The rise of the chief customer experience officer

Chief customer experience officers are the new way to customer centricity, says Paul Fennemore, Sitecore's customer experience consultant.

Marketing has always been inclined or forced to focus more on acquiring customers than managing them.

But this is the antithesis of a great definition of marketing which is ‘the reason why customers will buy from your business now and in the future and not from your competitors’

Once ‘in’, customers are traditionally (and with varying degrees of care and grace) handed over to customer services. This results in any number of issues, not least with new customers given that poor but all important initial experience due to the shameful void between pre-sales and customer care. First impressions do count!

With the rise of the subscription economy and the massive instant choice customers have at their keyboards, smart organisations are striving to differentiate by transitioning from being a product-price commodity proposition, to serving as a pivotal place within their customers’ small inner-circle of preferred brands.

After all, it’s easier and more lucrative, but perhaps less macho, to retain and grow revenues with existing customers than find new ones. And good customer experience throughout all touchpoints and phases of engagement improves brand perception that in turn does drive customer acquisition.

To achieve this strategy, there are structural changes happening on company boards. Where there was a CMO and perhaps a director of customer service or COO oith a customer-service responsibility, there is the rise of chief customer experience Officers (CCEO).

This is a digitally savvy board executive with clout. The CCEO owns the whole end-to-end customer experience, with a goal of unifying the customers’ encounters with the brand. They drive to differentiate by adding value beyond the core product. They do so through supporting, informing, educating and entertaining consumers.

In simple terms, making their customers’ lives easier and more productive. What’s more customers expect it, not least due the rise of digital disruptors who exploit these needs and are raising customer expectations.

A question of semantics?

It doesn’t matter what the job title is; what matters is that that an organisation as a whole is responsible for the omnichannel customer experience.

The disconnect occurs where relationships are ‘handed over’ with no continuity. This results in customers feeling mistreated by brands and vote accordingly, with their feet. Customers view a brand through one lens whereas organisations interact with customers in silos.

The challenge is that a relatively small proportion of CEO’s and their CMOs are familiar with the intricacies of continued customer engagement.

Furthermore, many of the legacy and fragmented ‘marketing’ platforms are only really built around bringing people through the funnel. Once they’re acquired, they transition into a different set of systems and platforms that don’t hold all the insight and knowledge acquired over the course of the sales journey.

Say you are a telecoms provider and you’ve had someone engage with the website, your call centre and beyond, and whilst they only bought broadband services, your CRM system and website knows that they spend time on the Pay-TV pages. Once they transfer into your customer management platform, does this critical data port over? Will you retarget and remarket them Pay-TV services?

In some cases, yes. In many, no. And both the customer care and the ongoing customer marketing/customer engagement piece is really all part of a single story.

What’s critical in delivering an omnichannel customer experience is not only reacting to the needs of the customer in the here and now, but anticipating future needs.

This can only really happen effectively if their engagements on any channel – web, in person, in-store, at events, mobile, app, via the product or service you sell in the first place – can be captured and stored against their customer record. Through this you can build a profile that not only allows you to service them effectively now (“I saw you bought a premium sports event ticket, would you be interested in a season pass”) but also allows you to anticipate their needs and stave off any competitive action.

Capturing all this insight allows you to take a ‘mass personalisation’ approach to customer engagement throughout the organisation. Not just delivering tailored content on the website, but managing every interaction through the lens of who your customer is and what they care about, irrespective of the channel they’re on.

This strategy is both technically feasible and financially viable delivering proven and impressive ROI’s. And the good news that it’s becoming easier through machine learning.

A board mandate

The question as to who ‘owns’ this opportunity of delivering a unified customer experience, could arguably be settled by answering the question of who can lead the effort to ensure the business can provide a flexible, predictive customer experience management platform. One that seamlessly combines content management with customer intelligence and drives one-on-one engagement with every customer at every touch point.

It’s a critical issue as the goal for any business is to expand the breadth and depth of customer relationships, translating customer loyalty into longer-term retention, improved sales of goods and services at lower cost of operations, and therefore a healthier bottom line.

Clearly all of these are critical board issues; so the questions remains are – is the customer experience fragmented in your organisation? And who has the right combination of will, skill, digital expertise and insight needed to address it?

Meet your new chief customer experience officer.

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