In today’s ultra-competitive on-demand business environment, customer experience (CX) is a differentiator that can spell success or failure for a brand. In addition to their core branding and acquisition activities, chief marketing officers must rely heavily on harnessing and analyzing customer data to make informed, customer-centric decisions to meet increasingly high consumer standards. By doing so, marketers are proving that they are best equipped to lead CX initiatives within their organizations.
According to Gartner research, marketing leaders indicate that the marketing department is far more likely than other parts of the organization to own the majority of the budget for enterprise-wide CX efforts. Why? To be successful, a CMO (and the marketing team) must have all the information needed to understand and nurture the customer-brand relationship to secure a sale, drive repeat purchases and increase the transaction size whenever possible. As a result, the CMO has the distinct advantage of a holistic purview of the brand-to-consumer and brand-to-prospect relationship, uniquely qualifying them to own strategy around customer experience. And while it starts at the top, a successful CMO will ensure that CX is a team sport, best fueled by company-wide participation.
That said, there exists a need for companies to shift their approach to customer experience, from siloed to holistic. Instead of looking at just the experience of the product or service, the focus must be on the customer’s entire engagement with the brand. Sales, product design and customer service organizations must contribute toward the promise of a singular, unified customer experience. To do so, CMOs need to align disparate departments, ask for and secure CX budget and ensure that the products and services being offered meet or exceed customers’ expectations.
To help achieve the company’s CX goals, all senior-level executives must collaborate with the CMO to create a consistent customer-centric mentality across departments. It’s this unified approach, combined with an acute focus on data and analytics, that moves the needle. Once teams are aligned, the five data and analytics-focused initiatives outlined below prove to be essential for a successful CX roadmap.
Harness your data.
Modern marketers are inundated with inordinate volumes of data. It’s the CMO’s job to set a strategy for taking advantage of that data. In some cases, this might mean bringing on data scientists and new tools to help the organization explore and exploit data, thereby maximizing its usefulness. Proper data analysis leads to a deeper understanding of customers. While CMOs aren’t personally mining the data, they are the ones who often define how to leverage the data strategically from and across all departments. They also uncover opportunities in trends and/or themes that are derived from the data analysis. Companies that don’t take advantage of customer data across the entire organization are missing out on opportunities to excel in customer experience and will in fact lag behind their competitors.
Transform data into actionable insights.
As a data-driven marketer, it can be rewarding to use data to not only uncover opportunities but also to address customer product or service issues. Taking action on data when there is an issue shows customers that you are listening, thereby improving trust with your brand. This process can be broken down into three easy steps:
• Identify the issue(s) uncovered in the data collected.
• Be transparent with customers about the steps your brand is taking to resolve it.
• Include other departments in order to extend the key learnings across the board, while simultaneously determining a clear process to implement the data-informed changes effectively.
Act on real-time feedback.
Feedback and reporting help marketers evaluate the health of marketing campaigns and customer reaction, allowing marketers to make adjustments. Putting a measurement mechanism in place that provides real-time feedback will not only provide you with confidence that a campaign is working but will also inform key stakeholders on campaign progress. These real-time learnings can also be used to improve the campaign while it is still running. Companies often invest tens of millions of dollars to create and run campaigns, and real-time knowledge helps ensure that every dollar is maximized.
Rediscover who your customer is.
It’s no secret that you need to know your customer inside and out. This proves an increasingly difficult task as customer needs change frequently. With real-time tracking in place and the ability to harness and act on that data, you can more easily identify those loyal to your brand and areas where you can adjust to appeal to others. At the end of the day, all departments must be on the same page and able to make customer-conscious decisions to retain and engage current and new customers.
Anticipate your customers’ needs.
Once you have a complete understanding of who your foundational customers are, you can begin to predict what they want next. This knowledge is gained both through data insights and customer experience/engagements. While it’s the marketing department’s responsibility to build customer profiles, it’s also their responsibility to share this information with the rest of the organization. By unifying all departments with critical marketing knowledge, including customer experience predictions, sales teams can build stronger relationships, product designers can make appropriate modifications and customer service professionals can uplevel their assistance. Customer insights must be the main driver of decisions across departments, and it’s the CMO’s responsibility to make it happen.
Customers know that they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to brand choice, so CX matters more than ever. Savy CMOs have figured out that they are best positioned within organizations to lead cross-functional CX initiatives because of their business-wide purview and, more importantly, their experience in harnessing customer data and analytics to drive business outcomes. It may be a customer’s world, but CMOs can help brands live harmoniously within it.