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CMOs must close the gap

How? With customer insights as the bond

The excerpt below is part four from the Economist Intelligence Unit report, Outside Looking In: The CMO Struggles to Get in Sync with the C-Suite.

In order for CMOs to close the gaps of perception about marketing that our survey uncovered, they must connect customer insights to strategic business innovation across all channels and functions.

There is plenty of work to be done. C-suite executives give generally lower ratings than CMOs on their firms’ customer-friendliness, including their organization’s use of social media and mobile channels to reach and engage with customers effectively. There is little agreement about who is and who should be the voice of the customer, with none of the seven choices garnering more than one-third of responses. More CMOs see the head of sales filling this role than they do themselves. And nearly as many CMOs say a “chief customer officer” – a relatively obscure title – should own the voice of the customer.

Some organizations are creating new groups to drive home the importance of a customer-driven approach to business. Mercedes-Benz USA, for example, has spent much of the past year integrating its customer experience initiatives under a centralized group that reports directly to CEO Steve Cannon. Previously, customer experience programs were fragmented across the organization, which resulted in a lot of inefficient spending.

“We discovered that we were sending out 5 million surveys a year,” says Mr Cannon, who served as the company’s CMO for five years before being elevated to the role of CEO in January 2012. “Everyone had good intentions, but there are not enough resources anywhere to analyze these data, transform them into intelligence and turn that intelligence into actions.”

Creating a dedicated group charged with optimizing the customer experience across the entire organization sent a clear message to the company’s 22,000 employees and 358 independent dealers that customer experience was at the top of the strategic agenda.

“The customer experience is first and foremost,” says Mr Cannon. “We are focusing more resources than we ever have before on the customer experience.”

See the full report on the EIU site: Outside Looking In: The CMO Struggles to Get in Sync with the C-Suite

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