Are CMOs Experienced?

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CMOs are still charting their CX courses.
CMOs are still charting their CX courses.

How can you tell if all the effort you put into improving customer experience is working? Well, if you're a marketer at an enterprise with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, you rely on soft metrics such as customer surveys, retention rate, and Net Promoter Scores. But if you work for a company doing under $1 billion, no-nonsense measures such as revenue gains and stock price are more likely to be your guides.

That was one of several findings of a survey of some 200 members of The CMO Club, a global network of CMOs. “Customer experience was a topic that kept coming up at more and more [Club] dinners,” says CMO Club founder Pete Krainik, a former chief marketer at Avaya and Double Click. “It's a big issue among CMOs. Their roles are changing from managing campaigns to managing the customer experience.”

The constant talk about CX moved Krainik to engage Neolane to help construct a survey that dug deep into club members' practices and frustrations. Other key findings:

Who's responsible? While 90% of CMOs say they owned customers either outright or along with other departments, only 11% said they had P&L responsibility for customer experience. “Remember,” Krainik says, “this is the CMO perspective of who owns the customer experience, so it's not surprising that they think they do. The big takeaway here is that the most insightful CMOs are moving away from how to create the best campaigns to what is the best way for the company as a whole to serve customers.”

Theirs is to reason why. There was little consensus among CMO Club members about why CX efforts are important. Asked to name the one event that led them to intensify customer experience efforts, the marketers came back with grab bag of responses ranging from high churn rates to competition to “the CEO insisted.”  The majority of responses revolved around performance, or lack thereof: falling revenue, declining margins, lost market share.

A big toolchest. Also legion were the types of tools marketers said they were wielding to shore up customer relationships. Respondents were asked to name their top three, and eight tools and tactics got 20% or more of their votes. Leading the pack were interaction management, CRM solutions, loyalty management, predictive analytics, and call center solutions. Among verticals, only retail CMOs did not list interaction management among their top five tools. Email marketing was number one among merchants, followed by loyalty, and CRM. Perhaps retail marketers weren't familliar with the rubric? “Interaction management,” explains Neolane Chief Product Officer Suresh Vittal, “is technology that marketers use to influence real-time interactions. Say the customer is at point of sale—the customized offer printed on their receipt would be driven by interaction management. On the website, it would determine what content customers are shown based on their behavior.”

Vittal also offered a possible explanation for the chief puzzler offered up by CMO Club members. Why would bigger companies uses softer CX metrics than smaller counterparts? “I think it's because there's a more formalized structure at bigger organizations to get hold of revenue information,” he says. “Customer experience touches so many functions across the breadth of a company. It's not that CMOs at bigger companies wouldn't like to see those metrics, it's that smaller brands have easier access to them.”

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