On Driving Digital Leadership: The Disruptor CMO

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Digital enterprise transformation is no easy task. It requires a strategic, integrated approach that considers how all internal teams, systems and workflows work together to meet the customer where they are in their relationship with the brand. A holistic perspective of the customer journey and organizational targets, combined with vision and the willingness to shake the status quo, can drive digital leadership for the entire organization. In other words, it is a day in the life of the ‘new’ Disruptor CMO. 

There are three specific areas where the Disruptor CMO needs to focus for the most significant impact in driving digital leadership: Generation Customer, Cultural Alignment and CIO Partnership.

Generation Customer

As said in the Tale of Two CMOs, it is vital to expand beyond brand and demand to customer experience. We are now in Generation Customer, which has seven key characteristics as follows.

1. Customers want to be able to get information in any way they want, and they want it fast. That is not limited to omni-channel support - it means they want to search and employ options on their own before they get into a conversation with a person. (Note: I've seen some statistics that show as much as 80% of sales are done before the customer ever talks to someone at the company. The company website, peer reviews and social media content are critical to creating viable connections.)

2. Customers expect businesses to know about them from their very first interaction (which means they will not be greeted as a stranger - personalization is critical).

3. Customers want engagement with sellers when they are ready. They do not want to waste time with premature conversations or having to search for the right company contact when close to a buying decision.

4. Buyers want the people they buy from to be as available to them as other people they know (which means sales representatives need to be available by whatever channel the buyers prefer to use).

5. Customers need to complete their purchases as quickly as possible (so process issues and tech glitches are a turn-off; automation is a high priority).

6. Sales representatives must be subject matter experts. It is not about selling to a customer —instead, it’s about selling with the customer, adding value to the decision process in order to get deals closed.

7. A focus on internal processes and efficiencies has to assume a lower priority in favor of aligning those processes around customer desires and needs. Businesses that belong to Generation Customer understand how to complete this realignment in a way that is beneficial to the customer, the salesperson and the business. (And Jahia is going to help them do it successfully!)

Altogether, I would summarize 'Generation Customer' as digital enterprise transformation that puts people back in the center of real-time marketing campaigns and relationships.

Cultural Alignment

As with any process that rocks the status quo, there needs to be a plan to change and align the greater culture within the workplace. Employees know how to do their jobs the way they are already working; to start something new means getting them on-board with the vision and the new way of doing things.

One of the keys to successful cultural alignment is to help employees remember that their role is important or their position would not be necessary. Each individual - whether it’s related to processing paperwork or answering a customer service question or developing a new workflow - plays a significant part in serving your customers. This is evidenced through an inside-out mindset, where most employees think ‘if I just push this project’ or ‘post that piece’ that they will have done their part. But it’s not enough.

Instead, the Disruptor CMO recognizes and promotes that each individual contributes to the greater whole by having outside-in thinking: ‘we have customers with names and problems and here is what they need - let me get ‘that’ done faster so they get what they need more efficiently’. It is a mindset shift that the CMO is uniquely positioned to address, given your vision, perspective and ability to help employees deliver an outstanding customer experience.

To accelerate cultural alignment, do what you already do well - talk to people. Engage them to learn what they are thinking and what they need to know about your customers. Share the latest successes and company wins so that they can ‘own’ their part in creating them. Use what you know to connect with who you know to serve your customer, surface potential issues and bring together disparate parts of the organization to be on the same page.

Empowering your employees to be customer-centric in their thinking is one significant factor. Another is for you to think about the CIO in their role and partner with them to be effective in what they do every day - working with data, systems and workflows - to deliver great customer experiences.

The CIO is in charge of all culture-facing systems. Customer data and intelligence is gathered by the systems that are the domain of the CIO. By combining the knowledge sets and skills of you - the Disruptor CMO - and the CIO, cultural alignment becomes a natural process throughout your organization.

CIO Partnership

If you - the Disruptor CMO - are going to understand who your customer really is, you need the CIO’s support to connect all the internal disparate systems that have a piece of the view of your customer and how they interact with your company. How often does your customer call in to your company? How often does your customer access the support site? How often are they requesting assistance from tech support? How often does your customer go to your store?

A great CMO needs to know how to get full picture of their customer and their buying journey. The CIO is the key to this picture because the CIO can tell you exactly how the customer moves through and completes their journey from beginning through the present moment.

Up until recently, most of the emphasis on the customer journey has been limited to customer acquisition. That point is really only the beginning of the real relationship. What happens once the customer logs in post-acquisition is the make-or-break point in your relationship with that customer.

You may have seen that marketing technology systems emphasize the beginning, or acquisition phase, of a customer relationship but do not address what happens once they become a customer. The most recent ‘wave’ of digital marketing has moved into a broader experience in the ‘cloud’. The Disruptor CMO knows that digital marketing has evolved to a new level and that the CIO, with their expertise and systems-orientation, is invaluable in supporting this wave of digital marketing. (I will explore more about the ‘waves’ of digital marketing in a future blog post.)

Altogether, the new Disruptor CMO is a visionary motivational leader, shock absorber and strategic go-to resource who can discover, build for and live on the leading edge all at the same time. Your success will foster the complete transformation of your organization.

And it is your courage - to go beyond comfort zones and explore where others have never been - that will blaze the way.

Kevin Cochrane