The role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has changed quite a bit over the past decade and especially over the last few years. These days, the CMO has a wide range of responsibilities from creating new go-to-market strategies to driving organizational transformation to brand management to generating growth. The focus of the CMO, however, will always be the customer.
Therefore, it is no surprise that increasingly CMOs are being asked to take charge of customer experience programs. Gartner found that 25 percent of CMOs say leading customer experience is the most-increased expectation CEOs have of them over the last year. It is probably no surprise that CEOs are tapping their CMOs on the shoulder to take the reins of a customer experience program with 89 percent of companies planning to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016, according to Gartner. Recently, The Digital Clarity Group wrote a post on who drives the customer experience heralding that, “The CMO’s time has come to seize the moment, seize the day and seize the customer experience mantle.”
With customer experience initiatives increasingly being headed up by CMOs what is critical for them to know before they get started?
Don’t think of the customer experience as another buzzword
Customer experience is a term that gets thrown around a lot. But before you dismiss the customer experience as another buzzword consider that an Oracle report found that 97 percent of organizations stated improving the customer experience is critical to success. Also according to Econsultancy, 89 percent of consumers said a great customer experience is a key factor in brand loyalty. Therefore, the customer experience is much more than just today’s catch cry but a fundamental component to a successful marketing strategy directly impacting your bottom line, loyalty and retention.
You need to find your customer experience champions
For any project to get off the ground especially one that cuts across different departments, like a customer experience program, it is essential to find internal champions that can convince others of the importance of the customer experience. The key is to look for influencers across business units from sales to the contact center to operation, who will generate excitement around improving the experience for your customers. You need people who have a passion for the customer experience and this might not necessarily be from senior leadership. Instead look beyond the title and to people that have influence and internal respect from colleagues. According to report by SAS and Harvard Business Review, they found that, “A coordinated approach to customer experience management—and one that is built from the ground up— is more likely to take root.” Building a strong and committed work group of customer experience champions is essential to get your customer experience initiatives off the ground and have a customer-centric mindset flowing through the company.
Get the CIO on your side
The success of customer experience programs relies on working closely with the Chief Information Officer. The CIO role is ever changing and even suffered a series of apocalyptic forecasts and dire predictions of late. But today the role is growing in scope with their fingers in research and development, production, distribution, finance, and marketing. Due to expanding CIO role it is no surprise that a Digital Clarity Group survey found that CIOs were more influential in customer experience initiatives than any other executives, including COOs, presidents, and even CEOs! Therefore, as a CMO heading up a customer experience program it is essential to get the CIO onside and involved in the process early on. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges to any customer experience initiative is IT leadership. This is because customer experience programs typically are outside their normal wheelhouse and requires them to go outside their predefined roadmap. Getting input and walking the CIO through the process will be critical to setting your customer experience projects for success.
The customer experience is mission critical for CMOs and can’t be ignored. As the customer experience becomes a growing priority, those CMOs who take a customer-centric mindset, create customer experience champions and work collaboratively with the CIO will put themselves and their company on the road to success.