Customer Experience Officers Enter The C-Suite

In a sign of how important customer experience, or CX, is to organizations, data shows businesses are rapidly committing resources and manpower to the discipline. Gartner’s 2019 Customer Experience Management Survey revealed that in 2017, more than 35 percent of organizations lacked a chief experience officer (CXO) or chief customer officer (CCO) or equivalents, but in 2019, only 11 percent and 10 percent lacked one or the other, respectively.

“There has been significant growth in the presence of CXOs and CCOs or equivalents in many organizations over the past two years,” says Augie Ray, vice president analyst, Gartner for Marketers. “However, these roles rarely report to CMOs despite marketing taking control of more CX initiatives.”

The survey, which covered a variety of departments where CX efforts are run and supported, such as marketing, IT, customer service, operations, sales and standalone CX departments, found that responsibility for CX budgets and initiatives has begun to shift into the marketing department.

“As marketing continues to take on a larger role in CX, marketing leadership faces a potential challenge coordinating company-wide CX,” says Ray. “CMOs and marketing leaders responsible for aspects of their organization’s CX must ensure that roles are understood, redundancy and conflict are minimized, and collaboration is prioritized.”

For marketing leaders focusing on these goals, Gartner recommends they establish clear lines of responsibility and authority for everyone involved in CX. The presence of many departments and leaders contributing to CX can lead to conflicting strategies and programs. For strong cross-functional oversight, Gartner advises CX leaders to meet regularly, share information, discuss common problems, evaluate duplicative vendors and efforts, and avoid confusion over accountability.

For marketing to successfully take and sustain a larger role in enterprise-wide CX, Gartner also recommends that marketers consider the comparative weight of their short- and long-term metrics—committing time and resources to CX efforts should go beyond short-term goals such as awareness, inbound traffic and conversion, but also long-term outcomes such as improved customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased lifetime value and great referral volume. Gartner advice includes defining goals not just by internal expectations, but by how customers define success, and establishing metrics and KPIs around efforts that meet customer expectations.

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