Drive Loyalty and Growth With an Effective, Sustainable CX Strategy

CMOs seeking to improve growth must influence how their brand keeps and grows customers as much as attracts new ones.

CMOs Role in Customer Centricity

CMOs: How to Be More Customer-Centric

Download this guide to shape a sustainable CX that strengthens customer relationships.

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Prioritize customer experience, not channels, to drive customer loyalty

Changing customer needs and behaviors have motivated businesses to become more customer-focused. Strong, sustainable customer relationships start with understanding customer experience (CX) value from the customer’s point of view.

Download this guide to build a clear, customer-centric approach to CX to help you:

  • Ensure the CX is positioned to deliver maximum value to customers

  • Create a “true north” through which to view every CX decision

  • Align stakeholders on the specific targets CX will help them achieve

Three key elements for a CX strategy that delivers on customer needs and business goals

CMOs have high aspirations for customer experience. Progressive marketing organizations invest in a systematic plan and fundamental CX competencies that drive sustainable, long-term value for customers, the business and employees.

Collect, analyze and share insights that drive consistent, compelling CX

Deep customer understanding lays a critical foundation for a compelling CX — yet CMOs rank customer understanding among the top 3 capabilities gaps in their organizations.

Effective customer listening (e.g., voice of the customer [VoC]) is as much about how you use, analyze and disseminate insight across the organization, as it is what you listen to and how you listen. 

Successful CMOs build a strategy for how to collect, analyze and share customer insights for action, enabling the organization to deliver consistent and compelling experiences to customers and provide value to internal stakeholders. 

Deep customer insights lay a foundation for solid technology investment decisions. By understanding the customer first, you can set the stage for higher adoption and greater scale when the company does invest in new technology. To drive positive impact in the form of customer loyalty and financial returns, progressive CX leaders ask the questions: “What customer objectives do we need to support? How can we use technology to support those objectives? And what types of skills are needed outside of technology?”

Deep customer insights also fuel ongoing persona development. Most companies understand that having accurate, well-crafted personas is a critical driver of growth, but many companies miss out on the potential value by taking a “fix it and forget it” approach. Successful CX leaders treat personas as a continuously evolving tool, applying changing customer data to create experiences that resonate from the customer’s point of view. People change constantly — and personas should reflect those changes. Stay in close touch with teams that handle customer feedback, and keep personas fresh.

CX starts with outside-in understanding but must be executed from the inside-out

CMOs who successfully lead organizationwide CX start with an outside-in understanding of the customers' needs and perceptions. Then they execute inside-out by considering how CX will be defined, measured, implemented and prioritized across the organization. This requires active participation from cross-functional leadership with a long-term goal of continuously improving CX. 

To help differentiate on the basis of CX, progressive companies:

  • Map the customer journey end to end. Most companies start with the intention of serving customer needs. But over time, the focus drifts to short-term outcomes — clicks, purchases and email opens — often at the expense of improving customer loyalty and advocacy, which is critical to creating sustainable growth. Our 2021 Customer Experience Management Survey revealed that CX programs that exceed management expectations are 2.3 times more likely to focus primarily on postacquisition marketing efforts versus on the path to purchase. 

  • Build a robust measurement strategy. Progressive companies build a portfolio of marketing metrics that reflects the end-to-end CX aligned with performance objectives. A doctor can’t measure a patient’s overall health based only on their pulse. Similarly, a single marketing metric, such as a Net Promoter Score, doesn’t represent the whole picture and can’t drive real improvement. 

  • Nurture internal partnerships. Create a committee of CX leaders who study and identify the most strategically important customers and what’s important to them. Then set a unified vision for behaviors and activities across the organization that will enable the company to deliver a solid, consistent experience to those customers.

  • Prioritize the employee journey. To truly put the customer journey at center stage, give equal consideration to the “backstage” of CX. Be intentional about creating the best possible environment for the people and teams who deliver CX. Ask questions like: 

    • Where might there be friction between departments?

    • Where are individuals most and least empowered?

    • Are policies or operating procedures getting in the way of delivery?

    • How do all these factors impede or enable a smooth customer experience? 

To grow support for CX improvement efforts, it’s critical to demonstrate ROI

Everyone agrees that improving customer experience and satisfaction is a good idea, but many don’t know what this improvement is worth to the company. 

By combining customer-sourced feedback with operational data, you can paint a value picture that supports further investment in CX. Companies that connect customer satisfaction and business results are 29% more likely to report CX budget increases and a third less likely to report decreases in their CX budget.

Apply a holistic approach to CX design with a customer-centric channel strategy

An effective customer experience clarifies customers’ next steps and helps them feel confident in their decisions. Successful brands reframe their CX design strategy with less upfront emphasis on what channel to use and more emphasis on understanding how to address customers’ needs.

Customers are 3.5 times more likely to advocate for companies when they deliver high-value experiences — and customers do not assign value based on channels. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced consumers to become more acclimated to digital channels, 57% of consumers in 2021 did not agree that online or virtual experiences are an adequate replacement for all experiences. Rather, customers want to feel like they are in control across their end-to-end journey and engaged in a hybrid world. 

Looking across the entire customer journey will provide your team with context and insight for how your brand can support customers’ needs for confidence and control in the most impactful way. This holistic approach to CX design prevents your team from focusing on a single channel, while ignoring other channels that might be relevant to customers. It also permits more flexibility to adapt CX design based on how your brand can provide confidence and clarity, regardless of channel.

Think of channels as vehicles for experience delivery — a means, not an end — when assessing CX design. The following factors can supplement your existing channel selection criteria to help determine which channels your company is best positioned to deliver:

  • Feasibility: Is your organization equipped to deliver on the experience as promised?

  • Repurposing: Is there an opportunity to leverage an existing capability or channel?

  • Measurability: How easy is it to assign metrics that track value for the customer and the company?

  • Employee effort: Will this channel require a completely new workflow or skill?

  • Time: Can your organization deliver when customers expect the experience to occur?

  • CX ROI: What are the potential gains and costs involved?

Innovative experiences that exceed customer expectations do not have to be a grand investment built on the latest technology; they can be simple gestures of help and hospitality.

Build loyalty by striking a balance between CX improvement and innovation

In the interest of improving CX, many companies fix broken touchpoints but miss opportunities to differentiate their customer experience.

Other companies innovate CX to delight customers but fail to resolve core customer complaints or understand what types of innovation will drive the most customer satisfaction.

Progressive CX leaders strike a balance between remediating “dissatisfiers” and innovating “satisfiers.” The results are powerful, differentiated experiences that build strong loyalty and brand advocacy. 

To help your team prioritize and address drivers of dissatisfaction, be sure to:

  • Address the most frequent complaints thoroughly. Focusing on the most common sources of customer frustration is the easiest way to prioritize CX efforts and can reduce call volumes, improve social media buzz and online ratings, and result in less customer churn. Identify and resolve the root causes so your solution won’t just quiet the noise but will improve CX and provide long-term ROI.

  • Focus on high-value segments and personas first. A common CX mistake is to evaluate dissatisfiers across the entire customer base versus focusing on key customer groups. If a portion of your base drives significant revenue — or if certain customer types have greater influence — you’ll benefit from analyzing customer feedback by segment, role or persona.

  • View customer feedback and research in the context of operational data. The most frequent complaints don’t always drive the most customer churn. Combine VoC data and research with operational data, such as customer revenue, retention or digital data. Look at changes in customer engagement or purchase trends connected to expressed dissatisfaction to see if some have an outsized impact on customer growth and retention.

  • Analyze VoC data to identify core customer issues. Transactional surveys don’t always reflect the experiences that make the deepest impression on customers. Probe VoC data, particularly text submitted in response to open-ended questions, for signs of memorable experiences that influence customers’ future loyalty.

Creating new satisfiers gives the CX team a way to collaborate with peers, be seen as a source of innovation and win praise for making positive contributions. It also reduces risks, delivers value for customers and differentiates your brand. To help your team effectively lift customer satisfaction, be sure to:

  • Probe for unmet needs before investing in additional features, products or services. Any experience that is not valued or adopted by your customers cannot deliver the promised benefits. Before evolving technology, get a firm grasp on what customers want and need through VoC surveys, ethnographic studies, interviews, focus groups and “outside-in” customer journey maps.

  • Avoid strategies that improve relationships with one persona at the expense of another. Finding something that will delight all customers can be difficult. Consider potential impacts across your entire customer base and how to better target your efforts. If a new strategy may strengthen some relationships but hurt others, carefully consider whether and how to execute those new experiences.

  • Enhance existing products and services that align to your core experience. New experiences can become dissatisfiers, if discontinued. Focus on honing the satisfiers your company already offers — and align innovative experiences to your core customer journey. Also, measure customer awareness and perception of each new feature you launch so that you don’t inadvertently remove a feature customers valued without being aware of the impact of doing so.

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Frequently asked questions

Many organizations lack the deep customer insights that drive loyalty and higher returns on CX investments. Some companies focus too heavily on short-term outcomes such as likes and clicks versus on long-term growth strategies. Others struggle to demonstrate ROI, making it hard to build a case for CX improvement efforts.

To create a customer-centric culture, CMOs should: 

  • Map the customer journey end to end

  • Build a robust measurement strategy

  • Nurture internal partnerships

  • Prioritize the employee journey

  • Build support by demonstrating ROI

To deliver an improved, differentiated customer experience, CMOs should balance efforts to fix “broken” touchpoints that cause customer dissatisfaction with efforts to improve and elevate CX.

Drive stronger performance on your mission-critical priorities.