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The 5 Things a CMO Needs to Watch Out for When Leading the Customer Experience

Steve Olenski
Master Principal Sales Architect

The importance of leading the customer experience cannot be understated. However, if the CMO steps into this role, there are risks along with rewards. It may mean, in some organizations, that you’ll have to start by wearing a flak jacket to repel those who want to do you in. While that sounds harsh, those who have tried to lead new initiatives, like social media, have been seen in the organization as early adopters.

Here are the 5 things you as a CMO need to be on the lookout for when stepping into the role of chief experience officer. 

  1. Jealously and politics among colleagues. Being the Chief Experience Officer or a CMO in an expanded role has become a very sought-after idea. In part, this is because customer experience is a chief differentiator in companies that understand the strategic nature of this role. Anyone who strives to take on this role will need to have a strong background and skills in organizational change management in order to avoid being stabbed in the back. Often, jealous colleagues will “play” along with your leadership of this role, but secretly sabotage the efforts, making you look bad. If you take on this role, one of the best practices in organizational change management is to spend the time to get to know each of the executives who plays a part in making customer experience superb.
  2. Lack of organizational readiness. While customer experience can be the most critical initiative in any organization today, many organizations are not ready to make the changes to strategy, process, technology and how people do their jobs to become more customer-centric. The lack of organizational readiness may stem from senior leadership and board members or it may come from within the depths of the organization. 

  3. Lack of skill sets in functional departments. :Because the customer experience passes through so many different functional departments, every department, from front office to back office, must become involved. In departments that are customer- facing – Marketing, Sales, Customer Service – the requirements may be more obvious. In back office departments like order taking, billing, IT, HR, and training, it may not be as obvious, but should not be overlooked. 

  4. The amount of change the organization has to go through. Often, this is assessed by looking at the number of departments that will be involved in changing things to create superb customer experiences as well as how many people in each department will be affected. Because customer experience is such a multi-disciplinary, cross- functional initiative, it often means many departments and most of the people in those departments will be affected. 

  5. CEOs and board members who do not understand the importance of customer experience. Those who have been the early pioneers of customer experience in their organization and did not have senior leadership and board member support have found themselves facing a lack of financial resources and staffing. Worse, some say they have been sabotaged and not given the full opportunity to bring about the changes the organization needed to make. Some choose to leave those positions, while others said they were asked to find their next opportunity. 

Download Should the Chief Marketing Officer Oversee the Whole Customer Experience? and learn more including the 10 challenges a CMO faces when leading the customer experience. 

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