It's time for marketers to stop describing what they do as "brand management." Instead, as we see how "customer experience" and "brand" are becoming interchangeable, marketers should hold their heads high and proudly proclaim their mission is to be "customer experience management."
Marketers should own the customer experience with the same ferocity they've reserved for brand ownership all these years—and CMOs should be the ones providing the strong leadership that's needed to ensure a consistent, coordinated, personalized and omnichannel customer experience.
Delivering a consistent and coordinated customer experience requires a shift in how most companies are organized and how marketing functions within an organization. Beyond organizational structure, most companies will need to implement cultural and technological changes as well. Here are some best-practice approaches to organizational, cultural and technological changes that can be used to provide brand-building customer experiences.
- Create a Relationship With the CIO: Ideally, the CMO has a close partnership with the CIO. This is key because marketing technology is the backbone of marketing success. The CMO needs to embrace technology and drive digital innovation.
- Create a Relationship With the CEO: The CMO needs to be empowered by the CEO. Without this support, it's really hard to make organizational, cultural and technological changes.
- Partner With Customer Service: For many businesses, in an increasingly competitive marketplace, customer service is becoming a key brand differentiator. Furthermore, the growth of social media is blurring the line between marketing and customer service, as there is overlap in social media responsibilities at many companies.
- Partner With Sales: The CMO needs to be closely aligned with the sales team and vice-versa. At most businesses, the marketing team is expected to generate qualified leads for the sales team.
- Bridge Communication Teams That Impact the Customer Experience: These teams may include public relations, product marketing, advertising, social media, geographic locations/international marketing and more. Putting the CMO or Chief Customer Officer at the center of this web helps to ensure cohesive and consistent brand voice and messaging at every customer touch point, which rolls up into an exceptional customer experience.
- Hire a Head of Customer Experience: This role reports to the CMO and has a mandate to ensure a consistent experience across all customer interactions.
- Create Objective Measures Around Customer Experience: These objectives should be reported to the CEO's dashboard and show a long term correlation between the customer experience and revenue related metrics such as cross-sell, up-sell, retention, Net Promoter Score, brand value and social engagement scores. Marketers need to make great customer experience something the CEO and CFO understand, so measure it and show the impact.
- Focus on Customer-centricity: Based on a survey of more than 400 senior marketers from 10 countries, business consulting firm Accenture concludes that CMOs need to transform marketing as we know it today in order to stay relevant with changing customer behavior and channel proliferation. This transformation hinges on an enterprise-wide shift to a customer-centric culture—ideally, with the CMO at the helm of the effort.
- Provide Always-on Customer Support: A large part of strengthening customer engagement is being available to support customers when and where it's convenient for them—meaning, a company must always be ready to respond at any time via any channel. In today's digital world, these "always-on" customers expect to be able to get what they want, when they want it.
- Operate in a Data-driven World: CMOs need to embrace data. According to one study, more than 70 percent of marketers failed to deliver the quantifiable business results expected by management. Gone are the days of the creative CMO operating on "gut" feeling—today's most successful CMOs have digital technology skills and stress the value of measurement and analytics to track ROI and clearly communicate the value of marketing efforts to the CEO and CFO.
An omnichannel marketing strategy for coordinating both online and offline efforts requires marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) technologies—at the very least—to support it. Marketing is heading to a place where customers are offered real-time, personalized content on the channels of their choice—when and where they want it. Yes, a company's website is likely the center of its marketing universe, but it's just one tool in the toolbox. Customers today expect to be able to do anything they can do on a website, on their mobile device too. At any time:
- They want companies to listen and respond when they speak up via social media.
- They expect customer service to know their past customer history, and pick up seamlessly from where a previous conversation (on Twitter, email, or phone) left off.
- They want a brick-and-mortar store to process the return of an item purchased online.
- They want technical help from a savvy developer, not a customer service rep.
CRM and marketing automation technologies are an absolute must to optimize marketing operations and get anywhere close to delivering a seamless customer experience across many different channels.