CMOs, it’s time to take primary responsibility and control of your business’s customer experience—even if you have to wrest it from the cold, dead hands of anyone who stands in your way. 2016 is The Year of the Customer, and that means the clock is ticking for businesses to reorient themselves and put themselves on track to delivering a convincing customer journey that keeps people coming back for more. We anticipate as a marketing executive search firm that organizations that fail to make the transformation risk falling swiftly behind into obscurity.
Markets across the board are becoming more competitive, with established players trying new strategies and disruptive newcomers chipping away at market share. Empowered consumers are rarely more than a quick Google search or phone call away from your competitors, and have never been more willing to spread word of a negative experience with their network with the power of social media. Consider:
- 90% of consumers will abandon a brand after just one bad experience: Source
- A consumer that is “totally satisfied” by a brand can be expected to contribute 2.6 times as much revenue as a “somewhat satisfied” customer and 14 times more than a dissatisfied customer. Source
- A third of consumers that encounter a bad experience will post about it online: Source
Evidence supporting the value of a remarkable, consistent experience and warning of the dangers of a poor one are numerous. In the long-term, your experience could be the primary differentiator that sets your apart from and above your competition, or a dead weight that drags your brand and business down. Which it will be depends on whether the right people in your organization are able to get the authority and control necessary to guide the strategy and execution of your business’s customer experience.
Why Marketing Should Take the Lead
“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours,” said Ray Kroc, the man responsible for transforming McDonalds from a small chain to a long-enduring international powerhouse of a brand. There’s plenty of wisdom in that quote, but the most important part for our purposes is how a customer-first business mindset is a timeless strategy. Business trends will come and go, consumer expectations will shift. But as long as you’re focused on serving the customer, your marketing will be in a position to drive results.
Creating and providing a great customer experience should and must be an organization-wide effort. Everyone stands to gain, but a single breakdown at any point of your customer-facing operations can jeopardize the entire operation. However, CX strategy and management is a monumental task that needs centralized direction and coordination from a single point: and that point should almost always be at the Head of Marketing.
“If you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours”
First of all, the Marketing department is simply the best-equipped business pillar to handle oversight, management and optimization of the customer experience over time. Customer experience requires a thorough understanding of current and potential audiences, technical and strategic omnichannel engagement capabilities, story-telling experience and an analytical approach that are now second nature to high-performing marketing operations.
Second, marketing probably has the most to gain or lose from a best-in-class customer experience. It compliments and enhances nearly any conceivable marketing function, improving productivity and ROI. On the other hand, a single poor experience at any point along the customer journey can foil even the best marketing efforts.
Finally; if marketing doesn’t own the customer experience, then who will? Sales? Customer service? Account management? Product? Don’t kid yourself. All those business units are critical pillars of the customer journey, and winning their cooperation will be essential to delivering the experience you envision–but you don’t want them in charge of it. Their priorities aren’t in the right place to plot an engaging, beginning-to-end course for your customers’ journey.
Equipping Yourself to Lead the Charge
It’s evident that Marketing in general and the CMO in particular should be primarily responsible for the customer experience as a whole–but that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily ready. In many cases, a CMO lacks the internal talent and technology resources to just take point on all things involved with the customer journey.
As with all other aspects of marketing strategy, the most important component is leadership. If there’s not currently a go-to executive owner of the customer experience on your senior marketing team, it might be time to add one. New roles like the Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer are already evolving to take on this responsibility, if your business needs call for it. You’ll rarely go wrong with a Chief Marketing Technology Officer executive search to bring in the right leader to oversee the complex technology strategy necessary to properly engage consumers at all current and emerging touchpoints. And an Omnichannel marketing executive recruitment can equip your business with the big-picture guidance to create a cohesive, consistent message and story for your customers wherever they go.
Unsure what kind of leadership talent your business needs to manufacture and deliver a sustainable customer experience that builds your brand and inspires loyalty? That’s more common than you might think; though a customer-centric business philosophy isn’t a novel idea, the concept of centralized control and cross-channel integration on a broad scale is still developing. If you need inspiration in the right path to take to a complete, compelling customer journey, consider enlisting a customer experience consultant or partnering with a highly specialized marketing executive search firm who can fully assess your situation and recommend a leadership solution.