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How Digital Transformations Help CMOs Put Customers First—This Time for Real

How Digital Transformations Help CMOs Put Customers First—This Time for Real

It’s time to say goodbye to a fragmented, siloed approach to marketing. Marketing organizations, like the rest of the business world, are now faced with unprecedented technological disruptions as marketing narratives shift from brand-focused to customer-obsessed. CMOs face a daunting task, and it’s no longer adequate to simply adapt to emerging trends and employ new tactics. Instead, successful CMOs will take advantage of these disruptions and new opportunities enabled by technology to lead their organizations with great products and services that naturally drive customer enthusiasm. That’s a formula for success in any business, and, as we all learned in school, it’s the ideal role for marketing in a healthy organization. Luckily for us, these disruptions are enabling transformation and handing marketers what we’ve long needed.

Customer experience is powered by data

Machine learning, AI, and IoT. These technologies and others are no longer on the horizon, they are right here and becoming more important—seemingly by the hour. According to Forrester, by 2020, 80 percent of the buying process is expected to take place without any direct human-to-human interaction. As the world undergoes the third wave of technological disruptions, organizations must prioritize flexibility and scalability. Your identity platform needs to be able to process and connect massive amounts of new customer data, sourced from emerging technologies and all kinds of endpoints. Nonstop data collection is necessary for a complete customer profile and enhanced user experience. The “arms race” to win customers’ short-term attention and long-term loyalty is powered by data. And it is those who can successfully track, record, and analyze that data who will position themselves as leaders in the digital economy.

Customer identity is central to omnichannel engagement

Customer identity is more than just knowing your customers’ names—it’s mastering the ability to understand their likes and dislikes and exactly where they stand in the buyer journey. Customer identity is about anticipating your customers’ needs—sometimes before they themselves are even aware of them. Simply put, brands must have touchpoints with customers both online and off, and at every stage. In fact, customer identity is key to your competitive advantage. Since customers are constantly in motion and often changing devices, you need to be able to recognize each one with certainty across all brand touchpoints. Making the most of this data allows you to express a clear and consistent story across all channels and will help ensure that the engagement is both meaningful and welcome.

Customer-obsessed CMOs rise to the top

Marketing leaders at McDonald’s, Priceline, and Citigroup have all recently been promoted to the position of CEO. The reason? The CMO role is an expansive one, far exceeding the traditional marketing duties of simple brand management. Marketers who rise to the top are obsessed with the customer experience, an approach that requires company-wide support, and successful CMOs realize that they must take ownership of the end-to-end customer experience. Hilton Worldwide CMO Geraldine Calpin is rewriting the marketing playbook, transforming the guest experience by fully integrating marketing across the organization and leveraging customer insights with respect to everything from room keys to online booking. Of course, this has always been the textbook role of marketing—to be present up and down an organization in support of creating great products and services for customers. It’s the technology we have today that can help us realize this ideal vision of what marketing organizations can accomplish.

Successful CMOs realize that they must take ownership of the end-to-end customer experience.

The takeaway

C-suites must recognize that building brand affinity is a cross-functional task, one that extends far beyond the walls of the marketing department. This isn’t something artificial and fluffy, invented by marketers when all the other work is finished, but rather the real, tangible connective tissue between company and customer. Building brand affinity is precisely what a company, its employees, and its products and services are doing all the time. By breaking down silos and building stronger ties across the organization, marketing leaders can more naturally move to the epicenter of digital transformation, and do so with customer-centric relevance that other organizational functions cannot match.

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Matt Hansink

Matt Hansink

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Matt Hansink