CMOs, It’s Time to Step Up to the CX Plate


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Today, companies are in the customer experience business. It’s no longer enough to compete on products and services, but it’s also about delivering seamless and superior experiences that separates laggards from leaders. With consumers now having endless choices, only the brands that have a stand out experience will hit one out of the park.

In the quest to deliver the best customer experience, some companies have set up CX departments, or appointed Chief Experience Officers. A new white paper from the Economist Intelligence Unit and Marketo has brought to light some interesting research suggesting that it will be Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) that will own the customer experience by 2020.

The whitepaper dives into the elements of the customer experience as they exist today, from technology to culture, and it also predicts where the trends are headed. This post will look at some of the highlights from the whitepaper, and how the role of CMO is shifting to take the CX reigns.

CMOs will carry the CX weight

These days, the CMO has a wide range of responsibilities, from creating new go-to-market strategies to driving organizational transformation to brand management to generating growth. The focus of the CMO, however, will always be the customer. From the EIU Report, Jonathan Martin, CMO of Pure Storage was quoted as stating, “Today the primary task of CMOs is to deeply understand customer buying behavior and intent”.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that, as per one of the findings in the whitepaper, 86 percent of CMOs and senior marketing executives expect to be fully responsible for the end-to-end customer experience by 2020.

This changes the role of the CMO, of course. As the authors of the report pointed out, marketing executives are no longer “chief megaphone officers” – they’re getting their hands dirty by analyzing user intent, understanding buyer behavior, and mapping out shopper journeys in proactive and predictive ways. There is a deep set of background knowledge that a CMO should have entering the CX arena, and the skill set is constantly evolving.   

Furthermore, there is not a lot of time for CMOs to get everything right. With the relentless pace of technological change and the emergence of the on-the-go lifestyle, CMOs are being forced to innovate and get technology to work for them, and not against them.

Personalization above all

CMOs definitely have a lot of work to do, but where is a practical jumping-off point for these executives to launch their initiatives from? As the EIU study whitepaper shows, CMOs and senior executives are honing in on the main channels that customers use today, and creating more personalized experiences at scale. 

“When asked about the top three channels through which customers experience their organizations’ marketing efforts today, marketers placed mass-media channels such as print, television and radio at the bottom,” stated the report. “Interactive media channels like the World Wide Web, social media and e-mail took the top three slots”. 

It’s no coincidence that these channels are highly conducive to personalization. Tailored treatment is what consumers prefer, and always have. Today, of course, personalized experiences are highly contextualized. As I mentioned in my post earlier in the year about the CX trends to watch in 2016, personalization will be critical to current and future marketing success. One of the key factors to personalization success will be the ability to tap into streams of first party data, from CRM data to Voice of the Customer (VoC) data, and leverage predictive modelling to create contextualized experiences. 


With so much talk about the customer experience, and the tactics and technologies behind it, it’s only natural to wonder what the end goal is for marketers focusing on CX. To put it simply, according to EIU, “CMOs are betting that a personalized, efficient and consistent customer experience will translate into customer loyalty and brand value”. 

In other words, customer experience equates directly to equity in the eyes of the modern stakeholder, making a business more appealing from all perspectives. It’s the mark of distinction in a world where market saturation has done away with other competitive dynamics. In order to capture the attention of customers, to compel them to buy and to keep them coming back for more, customer experience is the key. 

Marketers have their work cut out for them, and must begin to view CX management as an immediate source of value. With first-party data, personalization and smart channel choices, marketing teams can become the CX heroes in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Duff Anderson
Duff Anderson is a visionary in digital Voice of the Customer research with over 20 years' experience. As SVP and Co-founder at iPerceptions, Duff is responsible for providing expert advice to organizations on how to gain a competitive advantage across the digital customer lifecycle and become more customer-centric.


  1. It seems that in the worldview of CX proponents, markets are “saturated,” products inevitably become commodities, and companies must either personalize content and “differentiate on customer experience,” or they will die.

    I agree that in some industries, these conditions are largely present, and positive customer experiences must be a central part of enterprise strategy. But I don’t think that product commoditization is any more prevalent today than in the past. Some customers are over-served with choices, others are woefully under-served. The consistency I see is that markets and customer preferences are prone to shift. So making CX differentiation a strategic centerpiece makes financial sense for some companies, and less so for others.

    If anything, I find hubris enters strategy discussions more often than it should. “We’re the only act in town!” Usually, I mention Humpty Dumpty. And sometimes, that quickly mitigates the risk of having precious oxygen leave the C-Suite. So I agree – there’s never a wrong time to plan for improving customer experience. The main questions become CX’s rank among other initiatives, and how much to invest in it. These, of course, are more challenging to address.

    Your article brings up another interesting point. While there is much discussion about who should “own” customer experience – CMO’s or CIO’s – the reality is that information has become central to marketing strategies and tactics, and the lines between these two roles are now smudged. The debate is valuable, but I haven’t discovered any right or wrong answers. Again, much depends on the company and its competitive space. But oddly, in a time when CMO’s are moving from “Chief Megaphone Officers” (I love the term) to thinking about how to facilitate one-to-one customer interactions, few executives are looking to Sales, or even to those with a sales background, to fill these roles.

    I know this well, because I am learning that most business schools (both under-graduate and graduate) eschew teaching basic selling skills, and it seems, at least anecdotally, that there is little organizational crossover from sales into marketing. The result: people moving into CMO roles are increasingly tasked with one-to-one stuff (the traditional domain of sales), but they have little if any background in it. Of course, bringing people with outside sales backgrounds into marketing roles would alleviate some of the problems. But until this happens, look for more friction and more disconnectedness between buyers and sellers.

  2. Readily agree with everything in this post, especially your summary: “…customer experience equates directly to equity in the eyes of the modern stakeholder, making a business more appealing from all perspectives. It’s the mark of distinction in a world where market saturation has done away with other competitive dynamics. In order to capture the attention of customers, to compel them to buy and to keep them coming back for more, customer experience is the key. ” The one addition I’d make is that virtually everything you’ve said about customer experience and CMOs, and is covered in the Marketo/The Economist paper, can and should be extended to employees, and their experience, particularly where customer commitment and commitment to the value proposition is concerned. This can, and should, give HR leadership a seat at the marketing planning and execution table. HR has a critical CX focus role here, often overlooked.

  3. Duff, does this mean CMOs do not know abut CX and that they have a role in CX. They should be fired


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