Should Marketing Own the Customer Experience

Over the last decade, the role of Chief Marketing Officer has rapidly evolved. New technologies allow for better personalization, which 86 percent of consumers say play a role in their decisions to buy. Traditional marketing approaches—like “spray and pray” tactics where marketers create messages and simply hope their customers will respondno longer work.

Company leadership has taken notice. According to Gartner, a CEOs’ No. 1 priority for CMOs today is to lead customer experience at their businesses. There is an expectation for marketing to create exceptional brand moments at every customer touchpoint. According to an Economist Intelligence Unit poll, now more than a third of marketers manage customer experience, and high-level marketing executives expect that number will skyrocket to three-quarters of marketers within five years. Essentially, we are witnessing the transformation of the Chief Marketing Officer into the Chief Experience Officer. We can expect this transformation to continue, as more and more customer experience duties become synonymous with marketing duties.

We don’t know exactly how marketing will change in coming years. However, everyone at enterprise companies should prepare for customer experience playing a larger role in marketing than ever before. 8 in 10 executives tell the Economist they need to restructure marketing to better support their businesses, and 3 in 10 call the need urgent. Marketing needs to focus more on the customer experience across not only ads, but also at other functions directed toward customers.

The Rundown

The rise of mobile devices and social media have empowered consumers with a growing number of choices. Therefore, companies have focused more on customer experience to compete beyond traditional brand differentiation. Customer experience is the product of every interaction a consumer has with a company and is the main influence on defining a brand.  In fact, 64 percent of customers saying the customer experience is more important than price, and a Gartner study found that 89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. A lot of companies look to their CMOs to roll out experiences that are consistent, positive, and across many channels. They’re moving away from relying on customer support and sales and relying more on the experience as consumers get more power.

Get Ready to Lead

To avoid getting caught off guard, marketers should prepare to take ownership of their company’s customer experience. As brand leadership expert Erich Joachimsthaler tells the Harvard Business Review, marketers already shape “the brand through meaningful experiences using data, analytics, and technology.” They’re also “at the center of everything—from creating products and services to pricing them.” This positioning puts marketers in an ideal spot to collect data on customers and form good relationships with other departments.

Marketers can take a few small steps to prepare to deliver positive experiences to their customers. First, they must understand their customers better to deliver personalized service. According to the Economist, only half of marketers bother to use data to learn about and connect with their customers today. Within the next five years, however,  most marketers plan on using data to help them better interact with customers using modern technology.

Next, marketers need to brush up on their digital marketing skills, as traditional skills like advertising and branding become less relevant. Nearly 40 percent of top marketing executives want to see marketers improve their marketing operations and technology engagement expertise. Marketers need to move away from working on specific platforms and become generalists who can work efficiently across different omnichannel platforms including web, mobile, and digital. They can work with other departments, like IT, to supplement expertise where they fall short.

Marketers are still building brands and attracting sales as in the old days, but their approaches have shifted a lot with the focus on ‘experience’. While everyone in the company should play a role in customer experience, marketers will need to continue taking the lead more and more.