Brands unclear who should take responsibility for customer experience

Businesses are increasingly using customer experience to differentiate their brand yet 30% of senior leaders are confused about who should take ownership of it.

Chief marketing officers and other C-suite executives are unclear who should be in charge of the customer experience. This confusion is a key challenge for 30% of the UK and US marketers, CEOs and chief customer officers surveyed by software company Calabrio, which is having a significant impact on the experiences these businesses deliver.

In the UK, for example, less than a third (30%) believe customer experience across all their channels is anything more than ‘satisfactory’.

This data reflects the latest KPMG Nunwood US Customer Experience Excellence report, which finds UK brands are lagging 6% behind their US counterparts in the customer experience stakes.

READ MORE: Why US brands are crushing the UK on customer experience

Failing to deliver on customer experience could prove a significant issue as over half (52%) of senior leaders say customer experience is the most important way they look to differentiate their brand, according to the research.

However, just 35% of CMOs believe it is their responsibility to use customer data insights to improve the customer experience, compared to 37% of CEOs and a mere 29% of chief customer officers (CCOs).

This is significant given 39% of survey respondents believe understanding real-time customer behaviour is the core reason for appointing a dedicated CCO in the first place.

Companies across every sector are adding chief customer officers to their teams. In March, Tesco appointed former Unilever vice-president of food in North America Alessandra Bellini as CCO, while EasyJet promoted head of marketing communications and brand, Ian Cairns, to the new role of director of customer in January.

READ MORE: EasyJet creates new roles to focus on customer experience and digital

The continued rise of the CCO is expected to have an impact on the role of senior marketers, with 34% of survey respondents arguing CMOs will have a greater focus on new customer acquisition after a CCO is added to their organisation.

Achieving a single customer view

Confusion around the lack of ownership of customer experience is hampering marketers’ efforts to achieve a single customer view.

The research finds 47% of CMOs feel they do not have the right tools to understand their customers’ needs, with 29% still unsure about the number of devices customers use to complete a purchase, for example.

Some 31% of senior leaders generally believe integrating customer data is the greatest challenge their company faces, although 56% think technological improvements and investments in artificial intelligence will help better align the customer experience across all touchpoints.

This perspective is supported by Econsultancy’s ‘Implementing a CX Strategy’ report, which expects the importance of customer journey mapping and creation of customer personas to achieve personalisation will grow, meaning marketing is most likely to own customer experience within a business going forward.

READ MORE: The year ahead in marketing and digital: Part 2 – marketing trends

Improving customer experience in the long term will be crucial, as 67% of respondents agree customer retention rates are the most important measure of customer experience success and will become the CMO’s highest priority over the coming year.

As a result, some 29% say customer retention is their most important priority over the next year, even greater than growth and expansion (21%) and profit (18%), product development (15%), customer acquisition (12%) and brand perception (6%).

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