Most marketers want complete control of CX - should they have it?

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Most marketers believe they will have control of the customer experience by 2020 at their organisations. But is this a good thing?

A new study suggests that most marketers are planning to stage a customer experience coup at their organisations in the next two years, as they look to establish ownership of CX. 

New research released by Episerver questioned 100 in-house marketers from across the UK about their views on the future relationship between marketing and CX. The data reveals that while 62% of marketers are already working with IT to improve experiences, less than half (45%) of businesses have given the marketing team total ownership over the customer experience.

In a third of cases, (35%), brands have appointed a dedicated expert or team to manage the customer experience, such as a chief customer officer or head of CX. 

However, 80% of marketers questioned revealed that they don't believe their current approach is delivering the best results, and that they plan to take complete control of their companies’ customer experiences by 2020. 

Of those surveyed, 23% of marketers believe that their brands are still not delivering adequate customer experiences on mobile sites, while 27% believe they are not delivering a high-quality experience through their mobiles apps.

Despite the fact that they believe their customer experience teams are unable to keep up, more than half of the marketers are already looking ahead to new technologies such as chatbots, mobile games and one-click payment technologies. 

With other recent research also surfacing similar findings, the stage is set for a battle royale over ownership of the discipline. 

Salesforce's State of Marketing report, for instance, also highlighted marketers' determination to take ownership of customer experience in their organisations. While a Forrester CMO report from late 2017, revealed that the share of global marketing decision-makers who say their department has primary responsibility for their organisation’s CX had grown from 31% to 38%.

80% of marketers questioned revealed that they don't believe their current approach is delivering the best results.

And marketers' concerns about their current approach may be justified.

“While it’s great to see marketers taking a more active role in defining their brand's customer experiences, the reality is that many of the basics of CX, such as high-quality mobile experiences, still aren’t being met,” said Joey Moore, head of product marketing at Episerver. “We’re starting to see too much conflict between what companies should do and what they actually have buy-in for, in the terms of organisational support and budget.”

Who should own customer experience management?

The debate about who should have ownership of the customer experience within organisations has raged for years, but a growing number of larger organisations have been appointing a dedicated cross-functional executive, often in the form of a chief customer officer or equivalent. 

Interestingly, however, evidence still suggests that the best person to own the csutomer experience remains the person at the top - the CEO. 

For the 2015 Genesys report The value of experience: How the C-suite values customer experience in the digital age, the Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed over 500 senior-level executives across 21 countries to learn how global companies manage their CX programmes. 

58% of companies who say that they are much profitable than their competitors report that the CEO is in charge of customer experience.

What stands out most is how strongly CEO leadership of customer experience appears to correlate with profitability. The report notes: "Companies which believe that they are much more profitable than their competitors are significantly more likely also to have their CEO in charge of customer experience initiatives. Whereas 58% of companies who say that they are much profitable than their competitors report that the CEO is in charge of customer experience, only 37% of less profitable companies say the same. We can say therefore that there is a clear link in our survey between CEO ownership of customer experience and profitability."

Executive buy-in has long been cited as a critical prerequisite for customer experience success. But this finding suggests that not only should there be commitment to the customer experience in the c-suite, but that chief executives should be making it one of their key personal responsibilities. 

Of course, that's not to say that there isn't still room for a chief customer officer - clearly the CEO is unlikely to dedicate enough time and resources to micro-manage CX - but it does suggest that the CEO should be actively involved with the wider customer experience strategy, rather than delegating all of that responsibility to the CCO. 

The research paper concludes that, based on the research, there are two initial key steps to improving the customer experience:

  • Make the customer experience a priority. The research reports that companies that prioritise future investment in CX believe they are reaping the benefits of better revenue growth and improved profitability more than companies that consider the customer experience less important.
  • Place the CEO in charge. The respondents indicated that companies where the CEO is in charge of customer experience initiatives are more likely to believe in them, and are more likely to be strongly profitable.

One caveat to this statistic is that much may have changed in the subsequent two years since this research was conducted. The role of chief customer officer, or equivalent, was becoming firmly embedded in the US, but outside of America the position has taken longer to gain traction.

Would a similar study conducted today find that the CEO is still the critical figure? Or would the appointment of an executive with sole responsibility for the customer experience change this picture? Or is the marketing department - or the CMO - best placed to shoulder the responsibility?

Perhaps some more up-to-date research will shed light on this. But for the time being, what are your thoughts on this and how it could shape the way that organisations should tackle customer experience?

About Neil Davey

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Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.

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04th Feb 2019 10:30

This comment was posted in the MyCustomer LinkedIn group by member Justin Bowser:

Delivering consistently good CX across all channels requires a focus on organisational culture as much as anything else. It needs to be owned as close to the top of the tree as possible.

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07th Feb 2019 11:21

Customers perceive a brand through every experience that they have at every touch-point and channel from the beginning until the end of their customer lifecycle. A brand, literally, is represented by the total customer experience.

In other words, managing branding = managing customer experience (CX).

In reality, managing a brand usually falls under marketing. When CX is managed by CMO,” your CX efforts and investment will focus heavily on marketing-related activities.

But, in truth, it could be the other touch-point experiences that affect how customers perceive your brand and influence customer loyalty. When you are blind to this notion, you cannot see the full picture.

The price of not seeing the full picture is incorrect investments and biased measurements. This causes the disconnect between your CX efforts and target business results.

To maximize the effectiveness of customer experience, the CX function has to gain its independence. It is a good thing to have a Chief Experience Officer (CXO), detached from marketing and CS, reporting directly to CEO, with 100% independency and full responsibility, and zero attachment to any function or department, neutrally assessing and managing the effectiveness of both your total customer experience and branding efforts.

Customer experience and branding should be managed by CXO, not CMO.

For more details, see “Branding Should be Managed by CXO, NOT CMO” (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/branding-should-managed-cxo-cmo-sampson-lee/)

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07th Feb 2019 16:26

Should marketers have control of CX? Marketing is often forced (by its close links to Sales) to be short-termist and tactical. Marketing is also often about acquisition, so marketers talk about 'driving prospects'. CX is, by its nature, strategic, about retention and interested in customers.

Marketers and CX people can see the world very differently. They're complimentary departments, but their differences in perspective means marketers won't necessarily make good CX decisions.

Mind you, I heard an alternative (rather harsher) view in a meeting a couple of weeks ago when we were discussing who to involve in a CX project.

The COO asked "Should we get Marketing involved in this?" The CFO's response? "Only if they promise not to colour over the lines."

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