For Marketers Today, It’s All About the Experience, Stupid

Digital transformation. Voice of the customer. Big data. Customer experience. Data-driven, customer-driven business. Today’s businesses and brands face more disruptors than ever. Every customer interaction and touchpoint takes on added importance. The Experience Economy is forcing brands to rethink, innovate, create and automate end-to-end experience to gain and keep customers.

The main effect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to put customers at the epicenter of the economy. Improving how customers are served must be a business’s primary consideration.

Physical products and services can now be enhanced with digital capabilities that increase their value. New technologies make assets more durable and resilient, while data and analytics transform how they are maintained. However, successful customer experience requires new forms of data and collaboration, particularly given the speed at which innovation and disruption take place. Companies need to reconsider how—and who is responsible for—transforming the business into one driven by CX.

Here’s the thing: Transactional data from sales and clicks aren’t enough to craft a great experience. You need to hear the voice of their customer by asking them questions and gathering their feedback. You need to understand your customer holistically—their lives, attitudes, options and values. In essence, you have to understand your customer’s truths.

The rise of the chief experience officer

So, who in your organization should be responsible for experience?

According to an IBM study of 2,000 marketing leaders, CMOs continue to see their roles in their organizations evolve. Today’s CMOs are increasingly responsible for having to shape the end-to-end customer experience, extending their reach beyond the marketing department and into areas of the organization once walled off.

Thought of another way, the CMO is now the chief experience officer. In fact, per the Salesforce’s State of Marketing 2019 report, nearly half (45 percent) of marketing leaders say their department is leading customer experience initiatives across the business, almost double the 24 percent who strongly agreed with this sentiment in 2017.

Over the past decade, customer insight has moved from a “nice to have’ to become central to fueling customer experience. In fact, Gartner’s new CMO Spend Survey for 2018-2019 shows that marketers identify customer analytics and customer experience as two of their top three considerations and investments they will be making in the coming year.

Consumer experience requires consumer insight

In the past, consumer insight was something that informed areas in silos such as advertising messaging and effectiveness, brand health or ad hoc fuel for innovation. Today, however, with the rise of the experience economy, there is a clear business need to understand the customer across all touchpoints and interactions and use that data to design a real-time personal experience.

Where does that data come from?

In its State of Marketing Report, Salesforce found that 84 percent of consumers believe being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. That’s why brands that want to connect with their customer need to understand how they think, act and feel.

This information isn’t available from marketing stack data. In fact, there’s no way to collect it without actually asking the customer.

There’s a clear payoff for brands. Think of all the touchpoints between you and your customers. How do they feel when they come to your website, talk to your sales team, use your product or call in to talk to a service rep? This kind of insight may be the missing piece to both attracting customers and retaining them.

It’s time for CMOs to direct a portion of their mar tech budget to customer insights technology. That’s the surest way to collect and integrate customer truth.