Customer experience (CX) is all the buzz in marketing and business today. But not enough, according to Forrester Research's Cory Munchbach.
"CX needs to have a bigger role over marketing and other operations functions," Munchbach told CMSWire this week.
Why Brand and Customer Experience?
Munchbach surveyed customer experience and marketing professionals about the relationship between brands and customer experience. She interviewed CMOs and senior customer experience folks about the dynamics.
She produced a subsequent report, published this week, "The Convergence of Brand, Customer Experience, And Marketing."
"Brand and customer experience strategies are rarely talked about in the same context, and there are many mis-perceptions about what each means and the role they play in the business," Munchbach told CMSWire.
She is calling the report the first research that "explicitly defined a relationship between brand, customer experience and marketing, and makes the call that CX needs to have a bigger role over marketing and other operations functions."
Naturally, there have been other reports that discuss brands and customer experience, and link chief marketing officers to customer experience, but Munchbach said the link between all three — branding, customer experience and marketing and her conclusions — is unique.
Branding vs. Marketing vs. CX
Knowing the difference between the three is crucial for chief marketing officers (CMOs).
The brand sets the stage and acts as the foundation for the company’s promise and decisions, the Forrester researcher told us. Customer experience, she said, tackles the implementation of the brand promise for customers, while marketing is the voice of the brand both in and outside of the organization.
Start with a strong brand strategy to guide the customer experience, she wrote in her report. This, she said, can help identify gaps that create confusion or dissatisfaction.
Who's at the center of this transformation, according to Munchbach? The CMO.
"Whether the leader of the brand, CX and marketing or a co-leader with a chief customer officer peer," she wrote, "the CMO must lead the customer experience imperative in order to remain the credible voice of the customer and brand steward for the enterprise."
So what should be included in a CMO's job description?
"The CMO should report into the CEO or COO and be responsible for being both brand steward and customer experience arbiter," Munchbach told CMSWire. "This means having knowledge and skills in both areas, as well as being a master orchestrator to ensure all of the various functions required to execute successfully against this brand/CX paradigm are doing so in a synchronized and measurable way."
Not Enough Alignment
Munchbach told us she was surprised by how few companies have aligned brand with CX at this point. "It’s one of those things that seems very logical once I laid it all out, but isn’t common," she said.
Why? Customer experience folks don’t have the influence or brand marketing experience to make the connection, and/or the marketing side of the house doesn’t understand customer experience or its principles.
So what are good CMOs doing behind the scenes to make it all happen? How do the good ones make it all jell?
"The good campaigns do what they always have done: create awareness and move consumers further through their purchase path," Munchbach told us. "Good CMOs, however, are moving beyond campaigns and thinking much more holistically about their consumers’ entire life cycles and how to facilitate a great, consistent experience that drives transactions, builds loyalty and generates advocacy. Campaigns have a role in that life cycle, but it’s not the best way forward."
CMOs are making improvements in targeting and measurement to optimize campaigns for the audience and the context.
"Though there’s a long way to go," Munchbach told CMSWire. "Cross-channel campaign management vendors are constantly improving their offerings and working hard to help clients add channels and measure performance to be more effective."
Anything holding CMOs back — forces beyond their control?
"A CMO needs more leeway to make decisions that serve the customer first and foremost," Munchbach said. "A CMO needs less pressure to do more of the same tactics but with fewer resources."
Title image by Leszek Glasner (Shutterstock).