Customer experience (CX) takes center stage

Embracing the broader, more strategic role of Chief Journey Officer helps marketers demonstrate sustainable business value.

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) suffer one of the most maligned and misunderstood roles of the C-suite. According to the Harvard Business Review, less than 25% have true enterprise responsibilities; nearly half focus solely on communications and play a supporting role in the business. Frustrations run high for CEOs and CMOs alike.

Enter the Chief Journey Officer.

By recasting the top marketing role, savvy organizations are injecting new energy into their marketing efforts. Two-thirds of CMOs, after all, regard developing deeper, richer customer experiences as their top marketing priority. A journey-focused realignment hands the CMO real authority to make an impact across the business.

Consumers gain new clout

The outsize impact that consumers hold is undisputed. Thanks to the immediacy, relevancy and intuitiveness of Amazon, Uber and Apple, consumers expect all brands to achieve the same standard. It’s no longer enough to simply outdo the competitors in your category.

According to McKinsey & Company, satisfied customers spend more, demonstrate greater loyalty, and cost companies less to support. Yet at the same time, consumers will tolerate far less. One in four customers will defect after a single bad experience; one in three will share that bad experience.

A journey-centric approach recognizes the importance of customer experience in delivering brand value, and positions a single individual to orchestrate all messages, touchpoints and interactions across the customer lifecycle. Marketing’s goal becomes making each experience as simple, clear and efficient as possible. 

New partnerships will fuel success

As the first Chief Journey Officers pioneer the role, most realize that success will require a new level of collaboration—across departmental boundaries, with outside resources and with customers.

Three-quarters plan to supplement in-house talent with outside specialists to foster innovation and beef up technical capabilities. Forging stronger relationships with the CIO and COO will also be essential, as digital platforms and employees support nearly all interactions.

Customer feedback will likewise be critical. CJOs must embed listening and learning mechanisms across the business, and identify new ways to co-create solutions with a wide range of customers.

Here, the pillars of design thinking—empathy, ideation and experimentation—will help reframe stubborn problems and lead to unexpected, new outcomes. Leading consumer brands, from Google to Pepsi to GE, rely on design thinking to challenge assumptions and keep the customer’s needs at the center of products, services and work flows.

Journey-focused marketers will also need to overcome entrenched business processes. Taking a holistic look at a particular journey will likely reveal surprising gaps. For instance, touchpoints such as a call center, e-commerce site or retail store may perform well at an individual level. But when considered as part of an end-to-end experience, the overall effect may be less stellar. A customer experience that’s seamless and intuitive must bridge these online and offline channels.

Lastly, as with any new role, establishing the Chief Journey Officer’s domain will take time. It’s important to focus on short-term wins as well as long-term goals. Marketers who can take small steps that delight customers right away will gain the C-suite’s confidence and build momentum for greater leaps forward.


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