How your CMO can also successfully be your CX leader

CX leader and CMO
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What happens when the chief marketing officer doubles as chief customer experience officer? Is it as natural and advantageous as the C-team expects? It all depends on motives and perspective.

Marketing professionals think of customer experience in terms of their deliverables: the user experience of websites, campaigns, events, research, content, social media, and so forth. Anytime these customer touches are hassle-free or tailored to the customer, marketers judge their work to be a good customer experience.

Customer success managers, predictive analytics, content marketing, and digital marketing can educate customers in the right ways at the right times, from their viewpoint.

The common thread across all of these things is on-target: making it easier and nicer for customers to get things done in their life or business.

How customers think of customer experience

From the customer’s viewpoint, they certainly want everything provided by marketing to be easy and personalised. Customers are just trying to get things done in their life and in their work. So the information and resources that they receive from marketing are a means to that end. This is really important insight for everyone:

User experience, or touchpoint experience, is a subset of the end-to-end customer experience. There’s a big difference between distinct transaction experiences and the cumulative customer life cycle experience. The end-to-end customer experience is affected by the entire value chain across the company.

While there is a certain success rate in customer retention tactics, it is prone to similar efforts from competitors. Success is greater with a strategy that engages the entire value chain across the company.

While great customer service is expected by customers, their primary expectation of value is to have no need to contact the service organisation. Success programs, digital marketing, and loyalty programs are appreciated, but viewed either as table-stakes in certain industries or as convenient perks. Voice of the Customer is often viewed by customers as doing the company a favor, sometimes as drudgery, sometimes as a way to get rapid help, sometimes as an exercise in a black hole.

Customers want what they buy to be easy and nice to discover and get and use. Overall, they just want to follow the path of least resistance to get things done in their life or business. Therefore, executives should be ensuring superior customer value cumulatively across the customer life cycle.

Value creation, communication & management

Marketing is primarily a value communicator, rather than a value creator, deliverer, or manager. Value creation occurs through engineering, manufacturing, and/or operations. Value-enhancing occurs through policies and processes of operations and support functions such as IT, finance, facilities, HR, quality, and so forth.

Since good customer experience is a matter of meeting or exceeding expectations of value, all of the value-creating, -delivering, -managing, and -enhancing areas of the company must be actively involved in customer experience management.

In addition to communicating value externally, marketing has the opportunity to drive value internally. As a collector of business intelligence, Marketing is in a position to be a very important conduit of external information about value throughout the company. However, marketing’s muscle-development is almost exclusively externally oriented. To be successful as the custodian of customer experience management, marketing must be empowered and learn to apply its strengths internally.

Marketing feel pressure to help achieve revenue targets. Marketing is often a couple steps removed from the company’s operations and a couple steps removed from dialogue with customers. As such, some marketing messages are a mis-match with realities customers experience. Also, some marketing and customer experience approaches are invasive from customers’ viewpoint, or a mis-match with expected value across their end-to-end customer experience. This puts customer-facing staff in the role of a buffer, and this is costly in many ways.

By managing Voice of the Customer, marketing can become more attuned to mis-matches. Yet, accurate value communication is only part of the equation. Customers really want truth and prevention of issues. So it is essential to drive information flow upward in the value stream in the company so that things are done right the first time more often.

How marketing can excel in customer experience management

  1. The quandaries just described need to be well thought-through by the executives who are making the assignment of leadership for customer experience management. The C-team needs to know the answer to “how can marketing build its inward-facing muscles to influence the rest of the company?”
  2. The CMO who is taking on the chief customer experience officer role needs to be very well aware of those realities and set up this whole role for success accordingly.
  3. Take advantage of marketing’s business intelligence capabilities to add more insights to voice-of-the-customer. Include Service’s customer call verbatim logs and make use the unstructured customer data extensively. There is a treasure trove of value and prescriptive advice from customer comments.
  4. Establish cadence, channels, digestion and actioning of collective BI-VoC sent upstream to the value creators and value enhancers across the company. Drive value management and value creation by emphasising cross-functional action on chronic customer experience issues.
  5. Establish a shadowing program to develop awareness and empathy: let marketing staff take a peak at a day in the life of customer-facing staff and operations staff, and vice versa for all. Some companies have a mixed seating arrangement among marketing and sales and service.
  6. Coordinate all managers of customer experience efforts across the company. Help them compare notes, calibrate cadences, establish continuity and drive synergies.
  7. Read books such as A Complaint is a GiftThe Best Service is No ServiceFirms of Endearment, Loyalty MythsThe Customer-Driven CompanyHappy RAVING Customers, Why Loyalty Matters, Chief Customer OfficerTotal Customer Value Management, and Innovating Superior Customer Experience. Establish discussion opportunities for the C-team and all employees to develop a shared understanding, language and vision of what customer experience excellence can be in your company.
  8. Bridge silos across organisations, channels, systems, data, vision, and execution. Leading customer experience excellence is a tremendous opportunity for marketing’s strategic value.

The common threads across value creation and delivery expected by customers are: right the first time, path of least resistance, increase value in helping them move forward in their life or business. These mantras provide the context and mandates for leadership of customer experience excellence.

About Lynn Hunsaker

Lynn Hunsaker

Lynn Hunsaker, Customer Experience Transformation Strategist, is head of ClearAction, Marketing Operations Partners, and the Marketing Future Forum. She has developed and led customer experience transformation for more than half of her career, as Voice of the Customer Manager, Strategic Information Manager, and Market Research Consultant, and in executive roles such as Head of Corporate Quality and Director of Marketing & Business Development at Fortune 250 companies.

Clients include Accountants Inc, Adecco, Adobe, Allegion, Anritsu, Applied Materials, Bankers Fidelity, Cadence, Cementos Progreso, Cementos Progreso, Cisco, Critical Software, Deltek, Direct General Insurance, FormFactor, Hootsuite, Hospira, Ingersoll Rand, Kaiser Permanente, LexisNexis, Merck, MicroWarehouse, Moo, SHRM, SunPower, Thomson Reuters, Valin, Whataburger, and others.

Lynn is past president of Silicon Valley American Marketing Association and she has taught marketing, advertising and business courses for 5 years at UC Berkeley Extension, Mission College and San Jose State University. Lynn earned psychology and marketing degrees at BYU and an MBA at Vanderbilt University. She is a Certified Marketing Manager, Certified Quality Manager, Certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Practitioner, and Certified Customer Experience Professional.

She is a top-10 CustomerThink author and she has written three handbooks: Metrics You Can Manage For Success, Customer Experience Improvement Momentum, and Innovating Superior Customer Experience. She designed and conducted the world's first global B2B customer experience management practices study for 5 years, and she led the world's first marketing operations practices study.

Lynn's Customer Experience Excellence course was the first to be recognized by CXPA as an Authorized Resource & Training provider for its Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) exam. She has served as a CXPA CX Expert panelist and as a co-chair of numerous CXPA committees.


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07th Jun 2016 14:32

Lynn thank you for sharing this. Personally I'm not a fan of CX being within the CMOs brief for many of the reasons you state. I also recognise that many companies don't have the capacity to create a separate organisation so options are limited. Good advice provided especially items 5 and 6 and I would add that they enable a regular dialogue with the customer facing teams to assess over all mood and responses of customers. Thanks great article

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to EJohn Morris
08th Jun 2016 14:56

Thanks for commenting, John. I used to think that Marketing made the most sense as the home for CXM until I realized the caveats described in this article. In my own career my CXM team reported into corporate Quality or Strategic Planning. I think those homes offer several advantages. And perhaps Operations makes the most sense of all, with strong ties to P&L and all the critical organs throughout the company, with an emphasis on standards/policies, processes and handoffs. Your point about dialogue with customer-facing teams is very important. I believe that VoC should start off with this dialogue, capturing what the company already knows, and then zero-in on things the company does not yet know (

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