And as we talked it dawned on me that:
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one
and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."
Of course, this is from Matthew 6:24 and the end of this quote talks about serving God & money. But in this conversation, it's about the two masters that companies have to serve, their customers and their shareholders.
And unfortunately, these two masters are diametrically opposed to one another. The biggest challenge comes from the fact that shareholders, as a rule, don't really care about anything other then very short term results. Need to make the numbers for the month, just cut expenses. Quarter looking soft, layoff a bunch of people. It's all short term for them. And their only concern is making money, nothing else matters.
But as was discussed in Brand Experience Matters: Circuit City cost cutting madness - Polinchock's Ponderings, the shareholders pushed Circuit City management to let go of all of their high paid staff to save money. Those cuts led directly to Circuit City closing down. So, the shareholders demand to save money cost them everything when the company closed. Short term gain, long-term loss.
But, this is how most companies think. Their C-level staff is trying to serve those two masters and, not surprisingly, they're devoted to the shareholders and the customer ends up being despised. Too often, the C-level staff doesn't even care what the brand is. Didn't a study show that the average tenure of a CMO was 18 months? Well, that means they're only working about 14 month, because they're spending the last 4 months looking for their new gig. And when the C-level staff doesn't really care about the brand, there's no way the frontline staff is going to care.
The question is, how can we possibly turn this around? Sure, there are all kinds of examples of companies that put the customers first, but most companies are not prepared to follow those examples.
So, that's my rant for the night. Wish it was a rant that had an answer, but not sure it does. But I'd be very happy to be proved wrong about this one.