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Top 3 CMO challenges to become customer centric organization

Everyone wants to be customer centric. The problem is that most CMOs lack the ability to facilitate the changes that is necessary to succeed in the world of customer experience. Frankly, personalized customer experience is not a one-and-done solution. These processes require dynamic support from organizations throughout the marketing value chain. In short, upgrading the marketing stack is just the beginning. Therefore, marketing operations needs to evolve from reactive support to a strategic enabler of new processes.

While regular marketing operations only assist the marketing organization to achieve operational goals, a strategic operations organization is a driver of strategic goals by enabling customer experience, digital transformation and business accountability.

 It’s clear that communication has become more com­plex than ever. Here are the top 3 CMO Challenges to become customer centric:

1. Leading customer experience

In today’s digital environment customers are obsessed with more personalized experiences. We see this everywhere in our daily life, from Spotify to Netflix, where content is tailored to match the user’s individual needs and preferences. Now, most businesses are not in the entertainment industry but customers and B2B buyers still want the same personal content experience as in their private life listening to music or watching series. Customer experience is already the new competitive battleground and by 2020 it is more than likely to be the main brand differentiator.

According to the Economist intelligence unit and Genesys, companies that make customer experience an investment priority have better revenue growth (59% vs 40%) and are more profitable (64% vs. 47%) than companies that don’t prioritize customer experience.

This focus on customer centricity not only requires a deep understanding of the customers’ needs and the use of adequate marketing technology. It also requires the right support processes to maintain, analyze and improve new initiatives. Customer-based, data-driven decision making does not come easy but adopting a long-term strategic approach in marketing operations processes is one step closer to customer centricity.

2. Digitalization

Yes, digitalization is a never-ending story. And no, it’s not a onetime fire and forget.

A bright spot in the digitalization tunnel, though, is that marketing has been engaged in digital transformation since before digitalization became the new black. The rise of marketing automation and other marketing technologies ushered in early use of digital technology. This has completely changed how marketing departments works with technology and data today. The role of strategic marketing operations is essentially to use technology and data to create new business models for how marketing responds to a rapidly changing business environment. In many companies, marketing’s early use of digital technology is now becoming a proof point for wider digital transformation.

Implementing new martech solutions is one thing. Maintaining and optimizing, however, is a different story. This is where the operations come in and the relevance of a strategic governance structure.

Since marketing operations work with both technology and data, they have a unique insight into what is working and what is not. Taking their knowledge, experience and skills to include in a wider digital transformation initiative will jumpstart the digital transformation. As a core part of the digital transformation team, Marketing operations can provide invaluable lessons learned around technology, data and processes.

3 Accountability

According to a VentureBeat report about CMO council study in 2016, nothing gives the CMO’s more headache than proving revenue growth and proving ROI. This is of course the million-dollar question for every CMO. Interestingly, the pinnacle of the problem is usually not lack of financial or customer data but rather finding relevant processes to administrate the resources. With a strategic approach the operations department should be a growth driver and not an order taker. As managements closest companion, operations should take the lead in financial controlling as well as follow up on budget and outcome of projects.  

Successful change is not a one-and-done activity but a result of an ongoing development. The customer centric organization is no different. It requires businesses to deliver great customer experiences and stand at the forefront of digitalization. To do this organizations needs the right support functions to develop, maintain and measure all marketing activities from creation to delivery.

Author: Erik Westlund

Job Title: Senior Marketing Consultant


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