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Gerry Brown, Ovum: Customer experience is the CEO’s job, not the CMO

10th Oct 2013
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Nearly every department is fighting for ownership of the customer, including the CMO, but with a special leadership role as brand custodian, it’s the CEO that should be responsible for customer experience.

That’s according to Ovum analyst Gerry Brown who, during his talk at the Ovum CX Forum in London, said that the CMO is struggling to build the brand through positive customer experience.

Pointing to CIM figures from last year, Brown explained that marketers don’t believe that they’re fully delivering the brand. “The brand is not being translated in action at the front line, which is the first major disconnect from a marketer’s perspective. They don’t have the power to control that and that’s why customer experience is the CEO’s job,” he said.

However, the Ovum analyst acknowledged that being a CMO right now is not easy. The CMO universe is expanding exponentially as different departments in the organisation increasingly add to marketers responsibilities. Social is creating increasing pressure for CMOs and, on top of this, everyone now wants to measure marketing, he said.

So what strategies should CMOs deploy to provide an experience that delights customers beyond expectation and provides longer-term profitability as a result?

According to Brown, organisations need to start looking at the customer outside-in, rather than inside-out and rather than the traditional sequential model of siloed sales, marketing and service departments, should deploy a  new model that sees each department working on different parts of the jigsaw puzzle to fully satisfy customers.

He also outlined the ‘whole product’ concept and explained that businesses must now take charge of the full service experience, and not just the product.

“If you’re just focused on the product, you’re missing out on profit because customers will pay more money for brands and services. So providing the full experience is good for customers and the vendor,” he said.

Virgin Atlantic, for instance, differentiated themselves from British Airways by extending the experience past check-in and offering a limo service to its exclusive customers. First Direct, Tesco, Boots, John Lewis, Amazon, Ikea and Carphone Warehouse were also named as some of the brands currently excelling in customer experience.

So what do all these brands have in common? Brown listed them as being:

  • Committed to CX from the top of the organisation
  • Motivated and empowered staff
  • Enable customers to act seamlessly across channels
  • Provide quick resolution to problems
  • Exceed customer expectations
  • Provide efficient customer service
  • Joined-up internal systems and processes
  • Visibility of customer behaviour across channels
  • A single or joined-up customer database
  • consistent branding across different channels

Brown signs off with a few key takeaways for those organisations looking to excel at customer experience, including The CEO is responsible for CX – but the CMO is a key stakeholder; pro-activity and speed of response are key; and your CEO and the Board need to be ‘sold’.

Do you agree that customer experience is the CEO’s responsibility? And are these the characteristics that define a customer experience-obsessed company?

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