The CMO's Role in Aligning Brand, Customer Experience, and Marketing

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Customer Strategy
Marketing
Marketing is in trouble. In a world in which the empowered customer asserts her needs and wants with abandon, marketing hasn't done a great job of adjusting its budget, strategy, and energy toward putting the customer at the heart of what they do.

Marketing is in trouble. In a world in which the empowered customer asserts her needs and wants with abandon, marketing hasn't done a great job of adjusting its budget, strategy, and energy toward putting the customer at the heart of what they do.

Meanwhile customer experience, which is by definition all about the customer, struggles to get traction across the enterprise with goals and metrics that don't line up with the broader business priorities. In both cases, we hear CMOs talk about how marketing is becoming more customer obsessed and that customer experience is a top priority, but there's a serious lack of movement on either of those commitments. To borrow from the poem that inspired Steinbeck, "the best laid plans of mice and men/often go awry..."

Enter some newly published research that puts a stake in the ground about the future of the customer-obsessed enterprise. It is one in which:

- Brand represents the foundational strategy. All decisions and strategies must be grounded in the core brand promise.

- Customer experience delivers the brand. Not every interaction is a customer experience, but a CX strategy must guide the way the firm approaches the customer so that there is coherence and clear perimeters.

- Marketing is the brand voice.
Internally and externally, the brand needs to be communicated by marketing so that expectations for the type of experience to be delivered are clear and achievable.

This paradigm where brand drives CX operations will be foundational structure for the business to succeed in the customer-obsessed world we are in today - and will be in for the foreseeable future. As a result, CMOs must take responsibility for architecting these relationships or risk losing their voice-of-the-customer leadership. There are three potential roles for the CMO to play:

- Owner of all three. In this scenario, the CMO is the ultimate owner for brand, CX, and marketing, and likely other related operations functions as well.
- Co-owner with a CCO. Some organizations have a chief customer officer who may be responsible for CX in which case the CMO partners directly with them to align the three disciplines.
- Cross-functional team member. Particularly in larger enterprises, the CMO may be one executive of many who need to implement the relationship between brand and CX and how that translates into other roles, departments, and regions.

An established hierarchy between brand and CX will be the hallmark of an enterprise ready to succeed in the next 20 years of empowered customers. And CMOs better get on the board or they'll watch their job pull out of the station with the rest of the organization.

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About the Author: Cory Munchbach is an Analyst at Forrester Research, serving CMOs. Her research examines the technologies, data, and processes required to deliver a complete brand experience across the customer lifecycle, and particularly, along the path to purchase.

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