The Rise of the Chief Experience Officer

April 07, 2015 | B2B B2C

Writer Tim Dunn in a recent Adweek article questioned whether the era of the CMO is over “as customer experience trumps traditional branding in delivering commercial performance.” While the role of the CMO has been radically changing in light of technology, we don’t believe it’s obsolete just yet.

The CMO is and always was a brand’s chief storyteller. Historically, the methods by which the story was told limited the conversation to one side. Technology has made that conversation a two-way street, with the consumer in the driver’s seat.

How do consumers experience brands? Today consumers are connecting with brands on multiple levels. Take the concept of in-store search. Google reports that 71% of shoppers now use their smartphones to search in-store. In 2014, major retailers like Target and Walmart rolled out their own apps featuring in-store search and more. Employees also touch the consumer and tell your brand’s story. Then that shopper takes to their social channels to sing your praises or not based on their experiences.

Consider a marketing mainstay like events that used to be about broadcasting as loudly as possible to as many people as possible in an already crazed venue like Vegas. Today marketers want consumers to experience their brand in an intimate and personal way, and that experience is drawn from many consumer data points, all connected through technology.

Gartner predicts
that by 2017 CMOs will spend more money on IT than their CIO counterparts. That’s right – marketing is going to out-tech the technologists. The key driver behind all this tech spending is improving the customer experience through data collection. Big data is driving the customer experience. Every swipe, every purchase, every #hashtag is out there and waiting to be tracked, analyzed and used to make the next experience that much sweeter.

According to Dunn in Adweek, “The idea of a central governing chief experience officer is probably the only way to deliver any kind of cohesive vision for how a brand looks, thinks, feels and behaves across the multiplicity of touch points now required to engage consistently with the modern consumer.”

Ultimately, CMOs or Chief Experience Officers will need to lead the story of their brand and deliver that story on a large-scale across many channels. Their next challenge is to then refine it down to the granular level for a new brand storyteller—the consumer.