“Why is customer service still so awful?" 

Most people have asked themselves that question at one time or another. Maybe it was when your wait for a field service technician (think cable and internet companies) passes the fourth hour, or when the automated voice acting as a gatekeeper between you and a human customer service representative refuses to allow you by. 

Either way, there's a Grand Canyon-sized gap between the service that a customer expects and the service a business delivers. And that isn't good for anyone. 

Expectations Run High for Customer Service

In this era of digital transformation, consumers are smarter, savvier and more demanding than ever before. The proliferation of on-demand services like Uber, Airbnb and Amazon have set the bar higher for customer service, regardless of your sector or business. 

As a result, a host of companies find themselves forced to not only play catch-up, but bridging an enormous gap. So how do companies that have always done things one way suddenly pivot to adapt to new customer demands? 

Turning to the Person Who Knows Customers Best: The CMO

Customer experience has emerged as a major problem only within the last few years and so the challenge is new for most organizations. 

In order to bridge the gap between expectations and service, companies are increasingly looking to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for solutions. While this may seem like a stretch from a CMO’s traditional marketing function, it makes a lot of sense. 

Consider this: a successful marketer is one who knows their customer intimately — from where they live to what they buy and even whether they have kids or a pet — the more granular the data, the better to target the customer. This same data fuels the foundation of a airtight customer experience strategy, and successful CMOs already hold this key. Now they must apply the same level of personalization to offer winning customer experiences.

Extend Marketing Through Customer Service Interactions

According to a recent report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (registration), cable companies are among the worst offenders for customer experience due to a history of having little to no competition. 

Learning Opportunities

But much of the field service industry continues to struggle to meet new expectations, especially when delivering services to the home. ClickSoftware recently explored the disparities between customer expectations and the ability for service suppliers to meet them and found that expectations across the globe far exceed what’s being delivered. 

What’s clear is that if companies leveraged customer data, they could deliver a far more personalized experience and get closer to the goal of the exceptional experience that consumers desire. To make this change, the C-Suite  must acknowledge that most often, the service professional is the only interaction a customer has with the company. If the quality of the interaction does not meet expectations, then the interaction (and opportunity for differentiation) has been wasted. Smart organizations should leverage field service — or any direct customer interaction — as a marketing function, in addition to filling the need for service. 

'Customer Expectations Wait for No One'

Forrester analyst Michael Gazala wrote in Winning In The Age Of The Customer, "customer expectations wait for no one.” 

These words ring true no matter the industry. 

CMOs have the skills and tools to act as the glue between what customers want and what companies deliver. As the CMO role expands beyond the traditional planning and execution of marketing campaigns, smart organizations are offering them an opportunity to become more involved in decision making processes. 

While this is new and potentially onerous for CMOs who are change averse, the silver lining is the huge opportunity for CMOs to gain more influence within their companies by leading ever-important customer experience efforts, escalating their direct impact on retention, loyalty and the bottom line. 

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