When It Comes To Customer Experience, CMOs Need To Prioritize These Two Things Over All Others

When It Comes To Customer Experience, CMOs Need To Prioritize These Two Things Over All Others 640 427 C-Suite Network

by Steve Olenski

via Andy Wilson

via Andy Wilson


It should come as no surprise to anyone in marketing that the emphasis on the customer has been heightened significantly over the past few years. The majority of marketers the world over have realized, finally, that the customer truly needs to be at the heart of everything they do, and that the experience they receive with a given brand has a direct correlation between success and failure.

You’ll note the use of the word “majority” in the previous sentence. I used that word because, based on a recent Gartner survey, not every marketer or brand seems to have come to the same realization. One look at the #1 key finding of the survey tells you all you need to know: 89% of companies surveyed plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by 2016 .
Now, to be fair, the 89 percent does reflect an increase as so noted in the title on the Gartner site in announcing the findings: ‘Gartner Survey Finds Importance of Customer Experience on the Rise — Marketing Is on the Hook.’

However, I cannot help but wonder what the 11 percent of those who answered in the negative have in store? If they do not plan on competing based on customer experience, what basis do they plan competing on? But that’s a topic for another day — a day when I feel like banging my head against the nearest wall trying to put my head into those 11 percenters.

The Big Two
OK, so we know that a great number of companies and brands are putting their focus squarely on the customer experience. As to what was identified as being the most important things marketers need to do in terms of achieving this goal, well… here’s verbatim from the findings:

“Although delivering exceptional customer experiences certainly depends on the strategic use of technology, these investments shouldn’t be made at the expense of people. Technology is often used to empower employees to deliver better customer experiences, but sometimes it’s confused as an alternative to people-based investments. Don’t underestimate the importance of culture, business practices, incentives and organizational strategy as the key change in the customer experience game.”

Now, do you know the two things CMOs need to prioritize when it comes to customer experience?

  1. People
  2. Technology

This should really come as no surprise to anyone reading this, and if it does surprise you, you may want to consider a career change. Of course, people are at the root of this movement to putting the customer front and center for the obvious reason: They’re people! Who better to relate to people than other people?

Of course, I am simplifying this, but I do that for a reason which is to make it obvious. Did it work?

One of those “people” who are so vital in all this is the person who holds the title of chief customer officer. Nearly two-thirds of companies surveyed indicated they have someone in this type of role (title may vary), and this role reports directly to either the CMO or CEO.

My intuition tells me that the bulk of this 65 percent reports to the CMO, for it’s only natural this role fall under the head of marketing, especially when you read this finding from the survey: Marketing controls the majority of the customer experience budget in more than half of the surveyed companies.

What is disconcerting, however, is the wide disparity in the prevalence in this role between B2C and B2B companies as it relates to this specific role. Overall, according to the findings, there was no difference among B2C and B2B companies regarding the 89 percent who indicated they plan to compete on customer experience by 2016.

So why, then, do only 33 percent of those companies surveyed who work primarily in the B2B space have plans to add the role equivalent to that of chief customer officer?

You can discuss that amongst yourselves, but in my opinion the reason for the disparity is quite simply that too many B2B-only companies are talking the talk but still are not walking the walk when it comes to realizing there is a human being on the other end of the proverbial line — despite the fact it’s called business-to-business.

Technology Rules
“Despite (the) clear bias toward people as the top priority for improving customer experience, technology was rated the most significant investment in 2014.”

The above is a slight paraphrasing of verbiage in the survey findings, and it speaks directly to the fact that people are of course the most important asset for any company, but… it is the technology which will allow people to provide the ultimate in customer experience. The technology selected by a given brand or company is paramount and its importance cannot be overstated  — not with such an emphasis on A) the overall customer experience, and B) the need to deliver a seamless, cross-channel customer experience.

Having technology that will empower your people to provide your customers and prospects with the right customer experience in the right context at the right time is… well, yeah it’s a pretty big deal. And, as such, the decision as to what specific technology a given brand implements is… well, yeah’s it’s a pretty big deal, too.

*This blog originally appeared at Forbes.com

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedInGoogle+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.