NEXT: Your CX success kit

by Louise Burgers. The global CMO Council has pulled together key learnings in customer experience success from CX leaders from brands around the world.

by Louise Burgers. The global Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) Council has pulled together the key learnings in customer experience success from CX leaders from brands around the world, who share the actionable steps they are taking to work smarter during this global crisis and create a more positive experience for their customers.

In a new study from the CMO Council, it found that 60% of marketers it surveyed globally, weren’t happy with the depth and granularity of customer insights. In fact, what the council found shocking, was that 36% still did not have the data to understand their customers better. With the radical shifts in consumer behaviour and spending during the COVID-19 pandemic – some of which may become permanent behavioural patterns, this could be catastrophic for some brands. “Yet, the rise of the data-driven marketer has propelled the marketing function beyond the role of branding and into a customer experience and growth-driving champion. Marketers have to solve the customer data conundrum,” said Sally Ann Lopez, senior director of marketing, program management and operations at the CMO Council.

Customer insight

The CMO Council, in partnership with Teradata, explored marketers’ concerns in its latest report, Forging the future of customer experience: Building a unified data foundation for turning customer insight into action. The impact the council hopes for, is that marketers will discover how to clean up their data house and turn insights into action by integrating customer data properly to build a CX culture. The insights from this report were from in-depth interviews with executives from Cisco, Juniper Networks, Comcast, Rodan+Fields, Ameritrade, Visa, Gap, HSBC, Vodafone and Constellation Research.

The most important point to note, is that the role of the marketer has changed. Marketers are no longer just in charge of the brand, promotions and campaigns; but also growth, revenue generation and customer experience – which is largely, these days, determined through data insights. The CMO Council reports that 91% of marketers said there was an expectation by senior management and the board that marketers should drive “measurable growth”; and that this has indeed, become their primary mandate. As it outlines: “They [marketers] have no doubts about what it will take to drive that growth. The number one tactic marketers felt would solidify their position as growth driver was to more effectively leverage data insights to drive strategic activities. Ranking second, was embracing new digital marketing and customer engagement technologies to improve ROI. In other words, success all comes down to leveraging data effectively. Failure to succeed comes at a steep price.

“Recent CMO Council research highlights that 76% of senior marketing leaders feel their jobs could be on the line if customer experience (CX) strategies fail to deliver profitable results. Making this an even starker admission was that 77% of CMOs admitted they were yet to realise the full revenue potential of today’s connected customer. As the owner of CX, marketers recognise that to truly elevate CX they must move beyond gut-driven activities and towards data-driven campaigns with measurable outcomes that determine and define success. They recognise that data is the key to their success.” That is sobering, particularly in these times when much of what we knew about customer behaviour has to be re-evaluated in the shadow of a pandemic and global economic crisis. Delivering on these “data-driven dreams”, as the CMO terms it, is not easy and less than one in five marketers feel that they have access to relevant data; with 32% calling it “hit and miss, with access varying wildly across functions and with little reliability to access”. The main challenges that the marketing leaders surveyed identified, were:

  • Serious gaps in technology systems that fail to connect data to a single customer view.
  • Data trapped in individual touchpoints and platforms, that could not be easily accessed.
  • Teams that lack the skills to fully unlock data and apply the intelligence gleaned from the data sets.

The simple fact is, as the CMO Council reports, if marketers can leverage customer data more effectively, the payoffs for brands and customers will be huge: “Those marketers believed that leveraging data more effectively would lead to engagements and organisations that are more collaborative, customer centric, efficient, connected, responsive and profitable.”

It’s a CX “enigma” that needs to be solved, the CMO Council urges in its key findings: “The mandate to solve the data-driven CX enigma has only increased as data assets become more robust and fickle customers stand ready to defect if their expectations are not met. Marketers realise that in order to truly impact CX, they must reach across the aisle and ensure there is a cohesive experience and data story across all relevant functional touchpoints in the organisation. More than this, they need to hone in on operationalising their data assets. In 2018, 56% of marketers surveyed by the council, said their organisation had already invested in tools to aggregate, manage or analyse data; with another 20% saying they were planning to do so within the next year. The next frontier is for organisations to move from collecting insights to bridging the gap from insights to action.”

Moving from insights to action, requires not just the right software and tech support; but also organisational allies. To be clear, there is no shortage of data. There is a shortage of real insights. That is the gap that needs to be addressed and is the marketer’s mandate today, according to the council. The ‘how’ is what the report tries to address; and it is not an easy journey, with 60% of marketers reporting inconsistencies in customer insights. There are four key steps identified in the research report to try solve the conundrum, and this is what the CMO Council advises:

STEP 1: Integrate customer data

Customer data sets need to be unified and this is not just a job left to marketing and IT. It encompasses the entire organisation, so requires an enterprise strategy and approach.

STEP 2: Scale customer insights

To get to real building blocks of customer insights requires multiple analytic techniques, the report states; including machine learning, journey mapping and sentiment analysis – particularly pertinent during these times of Covid crisis. Data scientists have to be involved at this point.

STEP 3: Turn insights into actions

One of the most significant steps is to remove the friction that exists between creating customer insights and implementation. The report advises: “Move from antiquated list pulls to capabilities that support autonomous decision making and cross-channel coordination. Move from insights delivered through email and ads to include experiences delivered through connected products and devices.”

STEP 4: Build the CX culture

And this is the most important one: embedding a customer experience culture. This is how you do it: “Foster a collaborative data-sharing culture by focusing on a shared set of business priorities as the lynchpin to justify cross-functional collaboration around customer experience. Ensure frontline workers in the trenches are empowered to leverage data by making data more accessible and readable for each unique set of functional requirements and priorities. Understand the unique motivators of your cross-functional partners and how data insights can be leveraged to advance activities in other areas of the business.”

It is worth downloading the whole 40-page report and unpacking the research.

CX success ebook

This week, the CMO also circulated another report from one of its partners, Qualtrics, which has produced a CX success kit ebook. As the intro to the CMO partner Qualtrics report says, “2020 is one for the history books — a global pandemic, an international movement for social justice, and an economic slump on a once-in-a-lifetime scale. In this success kit, we’ve pulled together some of the key learnings for CX leaders from top-rated WorkDifferent sessions.” The aim is to assist marketers and retailers in helping customers navigate a radically changed environment in which brands are experienced and purchased – whether in store or delivered to your doorstep. In these uncertain times, reassurance and certainty are required.

DOWNLOAD the Qualtrics full report. It provides:

  • A four-stage framework for re-orienting and normalising.
  • Practical guidance from leaders at Hugo Boss, Stanford Health Care, UK Post Office, and the Biltmore.
  • Suggested actions to help create a path to a new, better normal.


*NEXT is a news section that looks at innovation in business strategy and brand strategy for surviving the COVID-19 pandemic; crisis management; and the tools needed to do so.


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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