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The Changing Role of CMO: Learn to Love Tech


Les Sapeurs, 2018

Bisa Bulter



When I was studying marketing in college, the marketing function in an organization was essentially to promote products or services, drive demand, and grow ROI. The chief marketing officer’s role was to attract and retain customers, build loyalty, and grow revenue. It required both creativity and business acumen. However, this role has become a more inherent part of business growth because of digital transformation and the increasing understanding of the connection between the customer experience, brand experience and the employee experience.


The CMO’s role now requires a holistic approach which greatly relies on an understanding of technology and how data can be used to generate business growth. Yes, technology is used as a tool to digitize records, improve operational efficiency and reduce costs but realizing its utility to improve the customer experience is the way to truly maximize its benefits.


From a marketing perspective, it can be used to better understand specific customer needs, enhancing the customer experience through features like customized offerings or improvements to the production or delivery of a service.


What does this mean for businesses? Offering good customer service is not a new concept. Oftentimes it emphasizes behaviours or operations at the point of contact for the service. A major shift in the role of marketing means that customer centricity has become the key driver of business development, planning and operations. The customer journey should be considered in the design and delivery of the product / service.


The new customer-centric focus is a result of the changing customer journey and the increasing role of digital in how customers engage with and experience the brand.

Customer centricity means that it’s more important than ever to integrate core business functions such as operations and sales with design and IT to create a better customer experience. Creating a better customer experience means understanding how that experience happens along the customer journey. The customer journey includes several touchpoints across which emotional connections can be made. The emotional connections are an important part of attracting and retaining customers. The creative part of marketing doesn’t only come from the ability to develop concepts and review graphic designs, it comes from developing design thinking skills. Essentially, thinking from the end-users perspective i.e. who they are, how will they interact with the brand and how will they use the product or service.


Creating the desired customer experience requires agility and empathy to understand the customer’s initial emotional state, develop a memorable experience around the product or service, and understand the “punch” at the end of the experience. If it is a negative experience, the CMO must understand what can be done to re-engage the customer. Using data, one can identify the specific part of the experience that was negative and not only take steps towards re-engagement but also perhaps improve the experience for other customers.


The customer experience not only includes the tangible components such as the quality of the interaction with front line employees but also includes the intangible experience that comes from brand communication, convenience and operational efficiency. The holy grail is to provide a seamless experience across online and in person touchpoints. For example, if a customer starts their journey online and initiates a service, they can continue that service with a person in real time. How efficiently that service is delivered is another part of the experience.


The intersection of technology, customer experience and creativity is where CMO responsibilities now live. In my opinion, it’s a brave new world!