Technology like AI has not only rattled the way brands approach marketing but also largely changed the role of today’s CMOs. Today’s CMOs have much more on their CX diary than just simplifying digital customer experience strategies. However, amid this new shift fueled by technology, there’s also a silver lining. And it’s the opportunity of building brand loyalty by improving the customer experience and giving a new face to customer experience management strategy.
The World’s Most Influential CMOs 2022, a new report produced by Forbes, Sprinklr, and LinkedIn, tells how CMOs bring in new ideas to improve customer experience strategy.
Most notably, the report uses data and insights to shed light on how top CMOs build better customer experiences for their brands. It reveals that these marketers are exemplary because they continuously look for innovative ideas to improve customer experience and transform brand loyalty. And their actions inspire all marketers to ask,
“How can we better understand our customers – not as a collection of data points, but as people?”
What is customer experience?
Customer experience is all about forging a strong relationship between a brand and its customers. It is an amalgamation of emotions, reactions, and perceptions that a customer experiences while interacting with a brand. To simplify digital customer experiences, brands are trying hard to bolster and improve customer experience management strategies. The marketing operations team is tasked with identifying ways and ideas to improve customer experience and increase engagement across touch points.
What makes great customer experience in 2023
Great customer experience implies implementing best practices to:
Reduce customers' waiting time on call with self-serve options
Get issues resolved at first contact
Facilitate knowledgeable and resourceful resources to customers
Support customers in real time by obtaining a unified view of customers’ issues
3 key challenges that keep CMOs up all night
“How to improve digital customer experience?” This question has always lingered in the minds of top CMOs of the world amid changing customer expectations. Further, changes in customer expectations and the unrelenting rise of CX players have created insurmountable pressure on marketing leaders to position their brands in the center stage of relevancy and engagement. However, a few key challenges continue to hamper their dreams of transforming customer experience and strategy. Here are 3 of the biggest concerns on CMOs minds today.
a) Lack of talent, significant skill gaps, and attritions derailing outcomes
Most senior marketers came on board when omnichannel happened down the hall. However, with the rise in customer expectations and avant-garde technologies like AI, relevancy, and consistency across all avenues are now prerequisites of customer engagement. Further, marketers are expected to be Renaissance men. A polymath who knows how to analyze data pouring from omnichannel platforms, make smart decisions, and craft messages that break through the noise. Unfortunately, it is becoming challenging to find professionals who can ‘do it all’ and make a difference in the marketing landscape. With customer expectations and technologies continuing to explode at breakneck speed, finding talent has become a major pain point for CMOs worldwide.
b) A growing hub of customer intelligence and inability to harness it
Reading customers’ minds has never been more complicated, especially when brands have multiple channels for communication and interaction. As it turns out, a single customer can face multiple issues in a day. They communicate with them on various platforms, always wobbling and flurrying with their requests and needs. To read their minds right, marketers need to gauge a variety of data and make sense of it. They have to tie this data together and create a solid customer experience management strategythat can strike the right engagement with customers. However, the complexity of managing data from disparate sources has made it difficult for marketers to be consistent with messaging.
These factors, coupled with the inability to create personalized and relevant messaging at scale, have induced severe insomnia in CMOs.
c) Not capitalizing enough on user-generated content programs
Things are changing fast in the marketing industry, even with brand promotion. The way customers share recommendations or accolades about a brand has completely transformed. A prospect would rather trust a sloppy review on Google or Twitter of a product than an expensive advertisement on TV. This is partly because consumers now are leaning toward raw and authentic content and want to hear from folks who have actually used the product. However, marketing teams struggle to develop new ways of using different forms of user-generated content as assets for promotion.
Building brand loyalty by improving the customer experience
Building brand loyalty has always been a daunting task. But top CMOs have figured out the secret sauce that’s needed to improve brand loyalty and performance. Take a page from the top CMOs as we share their ways of successful brand and loyalty building.
1. Empowering marketers to maximize social’s potential
Building superior customer experiences requires a thorough understanding of social media channels and touchpoints. Leading CMOs of the world care about social media like never before. They are paying close attention to different technologies that can help derive key insights about customer behavior. In addition, they are exploring new ways to offer personalized engagement with customers across various channels. Today’s CMOs are doing everything in their power to cultivate new ideas to improve customer experience and offer personalized care across various social media platforms.
For instance, JPMorgan Chase CMO Kristin Lemkau reinvented the social ad placement process for the company. After YouTube failed to respond to her concerns about ads appearing next to questionable content, she helped JPMorgan Chase create its own technology for determining where its content would appear.
Lemkau’s team built 17 filters that allowed it to narrow down five million potential ad channels to 3,000 that were deemed “safe” for its ads. The solution improved brand safety without reducing ad effectiveness, contributing to YouTube’s eventual decision to launch a “preferred” advertising program for brands with similar concerns.
2. Championing the Voice of the Customer
Top CMOs champion the voices of their customers; they go beyond seeing them as just data points and dollar signs and instead celebrate them as unique individuals.
Hyundai’s ex-CMO Dean Evans did this by radically simplifying the way people buy cars. He launched the Shoppers Assurance program, which posts car prices transparently online and allows shoppers to book test drives for vehicles – delivered where and when they want. Buyers can complete the bulk of their paperwork online and even return their new car within three days of purchase.
This customer experience management strategy has been a massive hit among Hyundai customers. 94% said they liked or loved buying through Shoppers Assurance, and 65% said it was an improvement over past car-buying experiences. Most crucially, 56% said it contributed to their decision to buy a Hyundai, with Sales in the four test markets outperforming other dealerships.
3. Delving into authentic storytelling with user-generated content
While it’s no mystery that customers are taking control of brands through user-generated content, from swathes of hashtags on Instagram to continuous banter on Twitter. Leading marketers and CMOs are ditching the traditional commercial pitch to promote their brands and delving deeper into user-generated content (UGC) for authentic storytelling. Along similar lines, they are now investing in dedicated UGC marketing programs to make lasting impressions on their target audience.
The brain behind Coca-Cola’s groundbreaking campaign Share A Coke campaign was Lucie Austin. She was serving as a director of marketing in 2011 for Coca-Cola South Pacific at the time when the ‘Share A Coke campaign’ took the internet by storm.
Coke printed about 150 most common and popular names on its bottles requesting people to ‘share a coke' with their close ones. The brand even selected teen idols to boost the campaign and asked teens to share photos of themselves with their personalized coke bottles. The results exploded on social media resulting in 496,000 posts on Instagram and 89,000 tweets on Twitter. Plus, more than 1.25 million teens tasted Coca-Cola's carbonated drinks and sales skyrocketed by 11% in the US. What’s more, Coca-Cola made these teenagers the new-age brand advocates, prompting them to promote the brand among their friends and family via social media.
4. Running Value-Driven Campaigns
Influential and passionate CMOs humanize their brands and build trust with customers by running value-driven campaigns. They prove that corporate success and social good can coexist. They focus on forging connections with customers beyond promotion and selling. In fact, they never hesitate to take a vocal stance against social inequality by weaving value-based content across all consumer platforms.
SAP CMO Alicia Tillman, for instance, partnered with UN Women to address pressing issues such as social inequality and poverty. And North Face CMO Tom Herbst invested over $1 million in programs that fund accessible climbing and public land. These marketing leaders understand that influence isn’t just about voice – it’s also about action.
5. Focus on providing strong and cross-organizational support to tackle attrition
Exemplary CMOs focus on creating a purposeful company culture where everyone gets a chance to learn and be mentored by the best. Successful CMOs of the world believe in creating “digital Centers of Excellence (DCOE).” With the help of subject matter experts, these CMOs bring together resources, best practices, and technologies to increase marketing’s effectiveness and streamline creative initiatives.
Marc Mathieu, who led the Global Marketing Center of Excellence at Samsung, sparked marketing innovation and excellence with cutting-edge tech across the company. Under his tutelage, the entire marketing team was able to build top-notch marketing strategies and engage with their consumers in new ways.
6. Speaking out about major social issues and causes
Truly impactful CMOs aren’t just influential in marketing; they speak up on major social issues affecting the world today. Specifically, the report highlights two areas where top CMOs are making their voices heard and making a difference.
Gender & Diversity
In the year of #MeToo and #TimesUp, CMOs did not hesitate to talk about gender issues in the world of business and marketing. Lemkau joined fellow top CMOs like Leslie Berland to criticize the Consumer Electronics Show for the lack of women on its keynote speaker list.
This garnered extensive coverage and attention, ultimately generating a last-minute diversification of the conference program.
Many CMOs have also advocated for diversity within the enterprise, while others use their position to bring attention or resources to specific communities. Renowned marketing leader Antonio J. Lucio, who once held the Global CMO role for HP Inc, had challenged the brand to diversify its agency partners. A year later, the company reported that its agency teams were now 61% women, up from less than 40%. This initiative reached all the way to creative leadership roles as well, with 51% now held by women.
With consumers factoring sustainability into their purchasing decisions, CMOs have stepped up to ensure that their brands deliver green messaging and greener products.
Unilever, for example, has made sustainability a key part of its brand.
CMO Keith Weed has used his social reach to push for sustainability in manufacturing in the advertising world. In fact, Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands delivered 60% of the company’s growth in 2016; they also grew 50% faster than the rest of the Unilever portfolio.
Putting the customer first
Influential CMOs recognize that digital transformation is inevitable and social media has irrevocably changed the way brands interact with their audiences. Most importantly, they live by the fact that customer experience is the new brand. And successful CMOs are equipped to face the brave new world of marketing, new touchpoints and technologies are emerging at lightning speed. To deal with this aggressive shift, new-age CMOs must do everything in their power to put customers first. The most influential CMOs are already doing this – embracing social media, building value-driven campaigns, and speaking out on timely issues. They’re a new breed of tech-savvy marketers who don’t settle for less. They are adept at tapping opportunities and taking on new responsibilities, never hesitating to become change leaders in the uncertain world of marketing.