Digital Strategy

Are You Leading Today’s Customer Experience Evolution?

Written by
Sebastian Jespersen
Are You Leading Today’s Customer Experience Evolution?

People today don’t simply go online, they live online. How and what people buy, how and where they work, how they interact with others—is only becoming more and more digitally enabled. Of course, some of these changes in digitalization have been progressing for years, while many were accelerated by the pandemic. Regardless, digital channels can promote, raise awareness, personalize, sell, and manage relationships and more and more, both the Buyer’s Journey and the Customer’s Journey begins and ends digitally.

Some business executives use the term Buyer Journey and Customer Journey interchangeably, and while both journeys are supporting and defining the brand experience, responsibility often belongs to different functions. The bigger challenge is that the two journeys are often managed separately within an organization through a siloed lens. The CMO function is not represented at both tables and many companies see the CMO’s primary role only as supporting the Buyer Journey.

The holistic buyer/customer journey

To clarify, the Buyer Journey focuses on all journey phases pre-purchase, while the Customer Journey is focused on the post-purchase ones. Yet, in a post digital world, where interactions from both journeys are happening online (sometimes solely online), customers are forming an affiliation with the brand whenever they have meaningful (digital) interactions with it. As a result, the brand experience in the Customer Journey must be aligned with the Buyer Journey experience and should act as a continuation of that relationship rather than a hard restart.

Consequently, the CMO function must be part of the Customer Journey, too—even if it is the area of another customer-facing department within the corporation. Given marketing’s understanding of both the brand assets and overall communications, if a CMO is not party to these important daily touchpoints, a brand may seem out of sync with its overall mission or simply sound inauthentic. Marketing needs to be at the table whenever there is a customer touchpoint—especially a daily one that influences the entire perception of any brand, as well as the delivery of its promised attributes.

Without question, brands today are built by experience, and brand management is dependent upon marketing. An increasing number of companies are now committed to delivering exceptional experiences that respond to customers’ changing needs by helping them reach their desired results in the most convenient way possible. In fact, many believe we are now operating in an Experience Evolution —defined by how well customers achieve the outcomes of greatest importance to them.

C-suite confusion about CMO responsibilities

And while businesses are increasingly using customer experience to differentiate their brand, research from Calabrio, a leading customer experience intelligence company, shows that 30% of senior leaders— (CMOs and other C-suite executives) -- are confused about who should take ownership of it. Calabrio surveyed more than 800 marketing and customer experience leaders from the US and the UK in partnership with global research consultancy Although many members of the C-suite consider customer experience a brand’s top priority, the survey found that the challenge of creating a seamless and engaging journey is affected by a lack of tools, siloed data, and often the misalignment of job ownership. While 47% of CMOs didn’t believe they had the right tools available to understand their customers’ greatest challenges, the study also found tension around “who owns the customer.”

Nearly one-third (30%) of respondents admitted that a critical obstacle is the confusion around the responsibility for the customer experience. While some companies are adding a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) role to the C-Suite, a lack of clear responsibilities and siloed data presents ongoing challenges for these incoming CCOs.

Vertic’s work with digital marketers has led us to believe that an organization cannot be customer-centric and experience-driven if it does not have a holistic view of how to respond to both a buyer’s and a customer’s needs. Similarly, a CMO cannot control the brand in a post digital world and lead today’s Experience Evolution if she or he doesn’t have the responsibility—or at least significant input-- for all buyer and customer touchpoints.

Thought starters

  • Does your organization understand all the buyer journey and customer journey touch points?
  • Does your organization collect behavioral insights from each of those touch points to obtain a holistic understanding of the journey?
  • Is there an experience definition and strategy that goes across these touchpoints?

The core role of a marketer is to understand how potential and existing customers think and behave at every step throughout the connection between brand and individual. The likelihood of obtaining a Share of Life with the customer can only be achieved when the continuation from buyer to customer is clearly and holistically understood. Confusion around “who owns customer experience” can be made clearer through a strong senior individual with responsibility for the entire experience strategy and process. Only that will further today’s Experience Evolution.

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