The Scoop @ MSCO

Stairway To Heaven

Led Zeppelin
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For years after it ruled the Billboard Charts, Stairway conquered radio as the most consistently requested song. You could hear it 1000 times and just want more. Like a first kiss. The tropical moments of a steamy romance. Led Zep was more than a band. They were a magic act. Perhaps the best to ever own a stage. Not only Official Led Zeppelin Watchwere they great musicians, they knew what the fans wanted and they gave it to them. A Whole Lotta Love.

Which brings us to Sam Walton. The guy never heard of Led Zep. But although neither knew it, they were kindred spirits. Every day before Sam wolfed down his bacon and eggs and prayed to God, he thought about ONE THING. Not money or stock prices or store openings. He thought about his customers. About the promise he made to them to deliver everything from Pampers to pajamas at the lowest price.You see, Sam was not really a CEO. He didn’t really give a damn about that. He was too busy and too passionate about filling another role that is vacant at virtually every company in the world: Chief Customer Officer.

Let’s take GM. The bloated swine of a company has a zillion management clods -entire teams of people under the CEO, CIO, CFO, CMO – but no CCO. Not a single person of power charged with putting herself in the customer’s mind and making sure the company stops making garbage on wheels and delivers one word absent from the GM lexicon: quality.

GM is hardly alone. Every time I arrive at a top corporate summit, the white board is painted with boxes and arrows and numbers and all kinds of hieroglyphics designed to make the executive host look brilliant. And inevitably, the word “CUSTOMER” is nowhere to be found. It’s as if the stairway to heaven is in the conference room -not the marketplace. Companies don’t talk to their customers. Don’t know if they are deliciously happy or delicately hanging on. Don’t know because it’s no one’s job to know. The Chief Customer Officer would know-and would bring the voice of the customer into the conference room and on to the white board-but there is NO CCO.

It’s time for change. People like it when you make good products and provide good service, but they are ecstatic and loyal and intoxicated and starry eyed and impossibly loyal, when you give them A Whole Lotta Love. Aren’t you?

Mark Stevens CEOWhat’s your side of the story? Comment below:


  1. Ed J Laflamme ∣ January 16th / 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Mark – you are right on! I would add that the CCO should not be exclusive to “big business” but small companies as well. Such a position would help small business to also be more customercentric as well. Love your article and message. Ed L.

  2. Mark ∣ January 16th / 2007 at 2:51 pm


    We know from personal experience of working together how important this is. And what a mystery as to why it isn’t done more!
    Mark Stevens

  3. Jordan Malik ∣ January 18th / 2007 at 8:12 am

    Mark: Well said. We plan to bring our customers at our current company for quarterly/semi-annual ‘summits’. I remember early Van Halen concerts, when fans would hold up “Eddie is God” on large white poster board. Your marketing fans (including me) are holding up a sign that says “Mark Stevens is God” (hope you’re not atheist…)

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