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If you want to create a successful customer experience (CX) ecosystem, someone needs to take charge.

Joint research released by CMO Council, SAP Hybris and SellingPower magazine suggests it’s sales and marketing who should take joint command. But the study also found most enterprises lack coordinated, centralized CX leadership, leaving “this vital revenue-directing opportunity area without oversight and collective direction.”

The Customer Experience Dynamics report examines what it takes to create a strong CX ecosystem, but found that most organizations don't have a clear owner of CX and less than half have a comprehensive view of the customer. Most companies haven’t assembled the necessary cross-functional team to create an effective CX ecosystem.

No one currently owns CX

Although it recommends that sales and marketing should spearhead CX strategy, the report found only seven percent of sales leaders and nine percent of CMOs own the CX experience in their organizations. While they may be testing the boundaries of their relationship status by understanding and cooperating on what's needed, neither are taking the lead or risk for ownership and operation of this emerging area of business value creation.

The Customer Experience Dynamics report found that a primary point of frustration and friction is a lack of alignment and consensus on even the most fundamental points of engagement. Sales leadership feels marketing is out of touch with the customer and is failing to deliver high-quality leads into a well-established sales funnel. Meanwhile, marketing feels sales doesn't understand the changing behaviors of the buyer and is failing to take action on high quality leads.

While both sales and marketing are laser-focused on growth, they are not on the same page. Sales leaders believe the sales teams represent the front line of CX for the organization, directly engaging with the customer and executing on CX strategies, the report found, but in reality, it’s other teams across the organization that directly develop the strategy and drive execution.

And while marketing believes it’s the primary decision maker and lead developer for the CX strategy—40 percent, according to the report—only nine percent are willing to accept the ownership mantle. What is needed is a strong central point of CX leadership and strategic oversight versus total ownership.

CX team, assemble

The Customer Experience Dynamics report stressed the need to create the right team: an effective CX ecosystem requires a several critical groups working together.

  • Leaders: This cross-functional team must include leaders from the C-Suite: the CEO, the CMO and the chief sales / revenue officer. They must own the organization’s CX strategy and act as its core developers.
  • Influencers: the COO, e-commerce and marketing teams must also be tapped as key influencers to CX delivery.
  • Intelligence Contributors: Your CX strategy and ecosystem must data-driven, so your finance and HR teams are key contributors as they are sources of key business intelligence that contribute to the overall view of the customer.
  • The Front Line: In-store operations, supply chain and procurement stand alongside the sales teams and retail partners as the front line to CX delivery.

Other key functions including field sales, customer service, support and supplier and vendor networks assume dual roles as key execution partners and key contributors to customer intelligence.

Ultimately, the model in the report puts the customer at the center of business decisions and interaction. The CX ecosystem defines where and how cross-functional teams lead, influence or contribute to the delivery of customer experience.

Talk to each other

Breaking down data silos is a key step to the building an effective CX experience, according the report, but few sales or marketing executives believe they have the tools or technology in place to drive a strategy across the entire organization. Rather, they feel better set up to execute limited sales or marketing campaigns rather than an organization-wide CX strategy.

Customer Experience Dynamics report found that 35 percent of sales executives and 38 percent of marketing leaders, data and customer intelligence are limited to insights pulled from within sales or marketing silos. Less than one quarter of sales executives and only 39 percent of marketers believe they have total access to a comprehensive view of the customer.

Engage now

Although getting the right ecosystem is essential, companies must engage with customers if they are to get CX right. Marcus Reubsam, SVP for SAP Hybris, articulates this best by reminding us that the customer is a “living being, complete with thoughts that can change behaviors in a moment.” Ownership, collaboration and a customer-centric mindset will be key to creating CX ecosystems that can quickly shift and adapt to today's business. 

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was formerly a Content Marketing Manager at Vision Critical.

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