03/07/2015

By By St. John Dunne, Managing Director, and Client Partner of digital agency Rockpool

A recent list of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Marketing, Media and Tech had a startling omission: not a single CMO made the shortlist. With marketing spend set to increase by nearly 10% this year according to Gartner, the lack of recognition for their influence begs the question, is the CMO a thing of the past? And, if so, who is calling the shots?

The report states that marketing spend is increasing to enable ‘companies to better connect with customers’. Historically, the CMO has been tasked with driving the customer to purchase, and evaluated on sales. Technology has made it easier and more important to look at other measures of success, both overall and for specific marketing tactics, including driving sales and loyalty, time spent on websites, as well as click throughs from newsletters, promotions or tracking mentions online from brand advocates.

The growing reliance on technology, the internet, and mobile, by consumers is creating big opportunities for brands, but activities need to meet digitally savvy customers’ high expectations. While using customer data for better more targeted media and advertising is no doubt more effective, clever brands are going further and using this data to benefit the entire customer journey.

Customers are evaluating brands on the type of connection they will have. If an airline has a great concierge app, for example, for regular flyers that becomes a key part of their purchasing decision, over discounts, offers or promotions. If you change banks and discover their online banking app is terrible you might rethink your decision. Brand interactions are very important, with the modern consumer increasingly not seeing themselves as simply making a purchase, but buying into a brand community.

Brands can’t really on driving transactions, they need to make customers and keep them. CMOs need to consider these experiences, but in many companies this is beyond their remit. If a CMO became a Chief Customer Officer they would be more able to ensure that other departments: supply chain, technology or customer service are aligned.

We argue for clients to create an omni-channel approach that sees companies approach everything from the customer viewpoint. CCO’s will translate customer data into meaningful insights that affect how the whole company operates, not just it’s next promotion. Customers are complex and the customer journey touches departments across an organisation, a customer might research a company on their mobile, look more in depth on their desktop computer, make an order on their telephone and request collection from in store. Creating consistent experiences across a business, digital or otherwise, takes strategic thinking and a more integrated approach from the ground up.

Digital is the backbone to ensuring every interaction be a great one for a customer. If a store was to implement an omni channel approach for example, a customer service representative in the store would be immediately able to reference a customer’s previous purchases and just as easily as a customer service representative on the phone could, or an instore purchase could be used for future promotions in the same way their online purchase history is. It’s time for us all to realise how we can create business opportunities by thinking about the customer first.

Customer satisfaction is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of a company, a business cannot survive on a one purchase per customer model, and should always focus on forging retained customer relationships to really drive sales and to promote engagement with customers across all platforms.

Historically the CMO’s influence lies in the same sphere as marketing – making people aware of your products and driving the customer to purchase them – however if this is the only protocol the CMO follows then once someone becomes a customer they are no longer under their jurisdiction, any concerns or demands they may have would be of little concern to them. A frustrated call into the call centre should be as important as getting a customer to sign up to a service for a business.

A chief marketing officer should also make their customer service skills a priority and ensure they are available to the customer for the whole journey. If a CMO became a Chief Customer Officer they would be more able to ensure that other departments: supply chain, technology, etc. are aligned toward a single end goal. Marketing and sustained sales.

But how can you improve your chief marketing officers’ customer service skills? The future of marketing undoubtedly lies in digital, in a short space of time it has changed the face of marketing, and it will continue to shift continuously forward from now on. The same applies to customer services. The use of digital in customer service allows the customer to express a concern at any time that is suitable for them, it’s easier than ever to monitor your customer engagement with social media. This relates very closely to marketing in every sense, and monitoring this should be one of the main responsibilities of the CMO so they can analyse what areas need improvement.

One way a company can improve its customer service with digital even further is to implement omni channel instead of multi channel. The difference between the omni channel customer experience from the multi channel customer experience is that there is true integration between channels.

If a store was to implement an omni channel approach, the customer service representative in the store would be immediately able to reference a customer’s previous purchases and just as easily as a customer service representative on the phone could. Or, for instance, the customer could use a desktop computer to check stock levels in the store on the company’s website, purchase the item later on a smartphone or tablet and pick up the product at the customer’s chosen location.

The current lack of looking at the complete customer journey, before, during and after a purchase, is why we should argue for clients to create an Omni channel approach vs. multi channel and that means approaching everything at the view of the customer. Digital is the key backbone to help every interaction to be a great one for a customer. It’s time for us all to realise how we can create business opportunities by thinking about the customer first.

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