by Leeya Hendricks (@LeeyaHendricks) Customer experience (CX) is no longer a nice-to-have but a strategic business imperative. Given the immediacy and dynamism of real-time online channels, CX has become a vital consideration for doing business — and marketing organisations will experience this most keenly as its primary custodians.

In this environment, chief marketing officers (CMOs) have an opportunity to lead the business in re-architecting its platforms, channels, roles and processes, with the customer at the centre. CX will change the functional remit and contribution of CMOs as it becomes the glue for integrating brand touchpoints to create an end-to-end experience for the customer. Gartner predicts that, within two years, most organisations will make significant changes to their business models to improve their customer experiences[1].

Increasingly, the role of the chief customer experience officer will be to build relationships across various business channels to drive a cohesive customer experience.

Traditional customer service functions will change accordingly but will remain central to customer experience. In short, as Panacea was the Greek goddess of universal remedy, CX is the modern panacea for marketing and customer service organisations. 3

The customer age

As the vanguard of this customer-centric age of business, the CMO’s role has become both more important and complex. Many CMOs report feeling pressure to lead the charge to strengthen the nexus between customer and brand. Thus, leading CMOs are assuming responsibility for revenue-generating systems and applications, thereby boosting their role’s status as a growth hub in the business.

According to the CMO Council, 68% of CEOs endorse this view[2].

This functional evolution of the CMO’s role will naturally have an impact on the marketing function and organisation as a whole. A customer-first CMO’s first consideration will be to ensure the customer’s needs enjoy the constant consideration of corporate decision-makers. This means that, in addition to other changes in their function, CMOs will assume increased responsibility for setting customer strategy and defining comprehensive customer experiences.

CMO to join forces

In coordinating customer experience across departments, CMOs must be conversant with various different customer-engagement channels, devices and technologies to provide a consistent experience across channels, irrespective of where in their journey customers are.

CMOs must ensure business resources which create customer communications are in sync to ensure consistency across the customer lifecycle. In this, CMOs must work with multiple departments to create experiences that satisfy customers and create brand advocates that can support overall growth objectives of the business.

The business evolution along this path is fraught with difficulty, as the customer journey offers many opportunities for missing customer expectations. Companies’ vulnerability to this is amplified by the ease with which customers can share their experiences online, so it’s imperative to ensure seamlessly integrated, end-to-end customer experiences with no gaps in quality.

CMOs that can achieve this will become strategic partners to the CEO.

Owning the change

In conclusion, CX and the role of the customer experience should be driven by the CMO. We must engage at every point; curate content which is effectively measured across voice, topic and channel; create compelling stories that recognise customers are leading the way; and we need to get all this onto the balance sheet for the C-suite.

For CMOs to lead the change, we need to own the overall CX of the brand, and only when that happens can the customer experience becomes the ultimate remedy for achieving results. For a holistic end-to-end brand experience, place the customer first.


  1. Gartner: Gartner Says Organizations Are Changing Their Customer Experience Priorities, June 2016
  2. Deloitte: The CMO Shift to Gaining Business Lift, CMO Council and Deloitte, December 2016
  3. WSJ: The CMO as a Customer Champion — Deloitte Report, April 2017

Further reading

Updated on 18 July 2018.


Leeya HendricksLeeya Hendricks (@LeeyaHendricks) is a chartered marketer, global marketing strategist, a digital driver and a Women in Tech leader. She joined Oracle South Africa in 2016 as marketing director SADC, responsible for leading integrated modern marketing strategies for the business across the Southern African region, and is currently marketing director for the ECEMEA region, based at Oracle UK, responsible for driving digital strategy, demand generation and transforms portfolios to develop sustainable revenue growth.

“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.

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