The environment in which CMOs operate today continues to evolve at a rapid rate, with the ongoing shift in global dynamics, intense technological intervention, and emerging buying patterns of a digitally connected client.
Such megatrends have influenced the critical need to market at the speed of expectation.
Despite these market force shifts, the role of the CMO in most cases has remained somewhat consistent in its remit for the past decade, with the principle focus being on building and retaining brand presence and preference, along with developing solutions which drive purchase decisions from the consciously and subconsciously aware target audience.
As disruptive technology converges with everyday life, the role of the CMO is being further challenged, particularly as brand positioning alone no longer serves as a differentiator.
The absence of exponential diversity in the role may go some way to understanding why CMOs generally subside beyond four years1.
To secure a firm and stable seat in the boardroom, marketers must continue to shift and adapt to market and client needs, whilst leveraging the new valuable currency of data, particularly given that in less than 15 months over 70 percent of the world will be on the internet, with 24 billion connected things and 95 percent of new products connected to the IoT (Internet of Things).
The scale and penetration of technology will provide valuable data which if unlocked effectively will generate a deep insight into client preference, sentiment, and behaviours. However, to unleash the power of data a new skill set is required in the marketing team, with advanced firms now developing and introducing data scientists.
This new wave of talent penetrates data in order to both understand and support the development of client journeys and experiences, which when delivered effectively will contribute to increased client loyalty, along with going some way to addressing the demand for immediacy.
A further emerging trend which alongside data is presenting a challenge for CMOs is the need to enable professionals to deliver an agile service through the convergence of digital and human interaction at key ‘trust-points’ of the client journey. This trend correlates to the global theme, with Gartner projecting that 85 percent of all client and consumer interaction being handled without a human by 2020.
In a bid to unite the power of data with the development and delivery of digital client experiences, we are observing the prominence of the Chief Experience Officer (CxO) in the boardroom, which presents a paradoxical challenge and opportunity for the CMO.
We look to the transformation of the marketing and client service remits, in the new changing world which we are operating in today in order to contextualise the emergence of the CxO.
The relative importance of these new priorities will vary by firm, however the broad importance of reinventing the CMO’s role is similar.
Without understanding client needs, whilst developing a truly exceptional client experience, CMOs will not be able to progress beyond the traditional remit of content development and execution, which arguably will become less compelling as we approach the era of automation and instant access to knowledge-based insights from across industries and geographies.
The service industry must continue to elevate its client experience effort in order to continue differentiating from the multiple service providers who are distinct through size and appearance, which for the new informed buyer will not be compelling enough as a decision driver.
Professional Services can benefit from looking outside of the industry in order to unlock their client experience potential. Well cited brands such as Apple, Amazon and to a large extent the hotel industry can be looked upon as pioneers in this space, who balance the data driven digital experience with the human touch.
Having said that, assuming you can use data and digital in harmony to elevate your client experience will be an agnostic approach. Such transformation programmes should capture the essence of simplicity, which will be key to driving scalable and effective impact, this starts by segmenting your current client profiles of today and those of your aspirational buyers of the future, followed by asking the right questions around their service preferences.
Once you have a clear view of the profile which your future buyers and current clients fit into, develop an onboarding process which informs the true points of digitization versus the trust points which are important and require the human touch. Furthermore, it is important to leverage an omni-channel presence to continue building insights to your client preference and behaviours in the wider context of your firm and engagement journey. These insights will enable engagement teams to refine their approach, whilst ensuring they digitally show up where their clients are.
If managed effectively, an experience programme will drive the application of curiously-challenging questions which will lead to transformative programmes, including how you onboard a client, automate the engagement delivery, and manage the payment approach of a client through to how you run your client feedback programmes, all of which are in the path of being challenged to reduce costs and increase the experience of a client, which in turn will drive ongoing loyalty, increased satisfaction, and further referrals.
In order to build and deliver a robust client experience programme, whilst driving a lean and cost-effective operational model, firms must consider the redesign of legacy processes, systems and ways of working. A digital discipline and adoption will be required which serves as a central concept to integrate the entire coordination, prioritisation, and implementation of client experience.
The exploitation of such strategies will impact service offerings, business processes, sales channels, and market positioning. The benefits of such are manifold and include increase in sales, productivity, innovation, and a new-found value creation for the firm which will include the attraction of new digital talent.
The role of marketing – to unlock the value gap from the submergence of experience and digital
Digital and client experience programmes when submerged together will unlock a new value gap which marketing should be at the fore of. These include:
- The identification and penetration of new revenue opportunities
- Omnichannel presence which is leveraged for client and target insights
- An agile and efficient approach to reach the market through new found data, insights, and research
- Reposition the firms proposition to build compelling reasons to work with the firm
- Strategic client portfolio management which identifies ways in which to enhance loyalty and drive future sales
- Identify new service solutions which are innovative and can build a new pipeline of buyers
- Find lean ways in which to address the changing need of clients and the wider market
The new digital landscape will force the focus beyond the singular, inspirational moments, to a more consistent and real-time reaction to expectations, which require constant evolution as our traditional industry boundaries are being disrupted by companies outside of professional services.
CMOs must address the new challenges on the horizon or face losing their boardroom seat to the CxO, who alongside managing data and digital will have the capability to automate content and marketing in the future.