I love this topic and all the confusion that comes with it. Customer Experience is a hot buzzword(s) and now a top priority for CMO’s in 2015 (according to the latest research from The CMO Club and Gartner for Marketing Leaders), it’s critically important we all get on the same page. I see the words “customer experience”, “omnichannel” and “personalization” get thrown around as if they were everyday achievements, but the reality is we are all struggling with how to define and implement, because it’s really hard to deliver that consistent, positive, “Remarkable” customer experience.

Two years ago The CMO Club released The CMO Guide to Omnichannel Personalization to help define the space. Through a rich collection of peer examples from retailer CMO Club members, including GameStop, Godiva, The Home Depot, Jamba Juice, JCrew, Michaels, OfficeMax, Petco, Quiznos, Roundy’s Supermarkets, Saks Fifth Avenue and Sears/Kmart, the guide provided a looking glass into how this select group of CMOs were responding to the informed and connected shopper that shops at-home, in-store and on-the-go and who demands a seamless, personal experience.

The CMO Guide to Omnichannel Personalization - CMO Club and Industry Expert Weigh In. What is it? Why do it at all? Where do I focus?

Last year The CMO Club and Gartner for Marketing Leaders conducted new research to determine how this was translating with the CEO and C-Suite. The “Executive Summary for CMO Leadership, Accountability and Credibility Within the C-Suite, 2014” lays out the three key takeaways from the research:

  • CEO’s number one increased expectation of CMOs is to step up to leadership of the integrated cross-functional customer experience. Growing competition and consumer power are eroding traditional product-based advantages, forcing marketers to shift to a new battlefield: customer experience.
  • CMO’s top-three investment areas over the next two years – digital commerce, customer experience and the mobile channel – all involve accountability to C-suite peers. Growth requires diversification as well as innovation — in the business model, offerings, routes to market, underlying technology and tools.
  • CMO credibility comes from generating both top and bottom-line growth, plus softer metrics such as customer advocacy, brand, and emotional value. Cultural fit and chemistry with peers are as essential to building credibility as is CMO accountability in delivering against specific measurements for joint success.
    Perfect! So where is the problem? Why aren’t we there yet? Why are so many of us now going backwards and instead of boldly saying we have the capability to do all this, wondering how far away it is?

I have my opinion, but I’d really love to know yours. Here’s mine and you may not like it…technology, talent, analytics and alignment for long term brand health.

Technology because it’s overwhelming. The plethora of choices is staggering. One of my favorite and scariest infographics is the ChiefMarTech.com Marketing Technology Landscape. As Cammie Dunaway, Global CMO KidZania and Silicon Valley Chapter President of The CMO Club said in the CMO CIO Crossroads panel “If you are a CMO and are not excited and engaged with technology, I question how long you will be in the job.”

Talent because it’s nebulous. With new technology and new channels for reaching customers, new skills are required. My two favorite new evasive talents: data scientists and millennials. And here are two eye-opening articles to help explain these new breeds: The War for Data Science Talent and 50 Things About Millennials That Make Corporate America Sh*t Its Pants.

Analytics because we’re still chasing Big Data irresponsibly. Cutting through the noise to get to the right insight that will deliver a better customer experience is an incredible task. And developing new metrics from new sources is the key to really understanding the emotional value you are delivering to your customer, which is the single most important metric for retention. I love this cheeky example from Jon Bird, entitled Sexy Data, which is a couple years old already but still exactly on target.

Alignment because the marketer’s job has never been harder. Circling back to the latest research on Building Credibility with the CEO and C-Suite, “The CMO’s role is morphing into a General Manager position with added cross-functional responsibility and higher expectations to contribute to both top and bottom line growth.” Why is it with industry-vetted metrics on-hand that say retention is worth 5X to acquisition, so many marketers are still putting 80% of their dollars towards the latter? Clearly, there are cases when that makes sense, but holding the fort and driving bottom-line growth with long term brand health in mind is delivering Customer Experience. And the metrics that show your progress remain foreign and have yet to hit the CEO’s dashboard.

So what do you think? I woke up at 4am this morning and felt compelled to share this, not for me, but for our industry. If we say Customer Experience is a top priority for 2015, we need to wade into new waters and prove that the world is not flat. Hence, “Customer-Centricity”. It’s a circle around the customer, not ourselves.

Original post on Linkedin Pulse