Key Alliances for Tomorrow’s CMO

As we’ve mentioned here before, the role of the financial services CMO is evolving. Increasingly, CMOs are expected to not only achieve ambitious growth goals but also own every aspect of the customer experience (74 percent of banks now consider customer experience their greatest strategic priority). This is an enormous responsibility – and one that’s not possible to achieve in a silo.

To succeed in ensuring universal excellence of an organization’s customer experience, CMOs will have to partner with other internal leaders. Here’s a look at which alliances will be most important in the coming years.

Leaders of Customer-Facing Teams

In an ideal world, marketers would work in close alignment with relationship managers and other customer-facing team members, sharing data and insights to provide the best service and deliver the best products possible.

In reality, though, customer-facing teams often work in physically separate areas from marketers and focus on distinct goals. As a result, customer-facing teams might be at best unaware of what their marketing colleagues are working on – and at worst, resentful of their efforts.

CMOs can’t afford that kind of discord. Instead, they have to recognize that customer-facing roles and marketers are both major drivers of customer experience; if these groups aren’t aligned, your customers will view your engagement as confusing, disjointed and arbitrary.

That type of experience could cost you the kind of deep, life-long relationships that really drive revenue: as many as 79 percent of customers consider their relationships with financial services providers as purely transactional – but 40 percent would be more loyal if their financial organization provided more personalized experiences.

To forge a connection with leaders of customer-facing teams, emphasize your desire to help them help their teams achieve their goals. There really is no reason for competition here; when one group wins, everyone wins. It’s also important for CMOs to share talking points, messaging, goals and campaigns with customer-facing employees; without that, it’s impossible to offer a unified customer experience.

Chief Revenue Officer

If the work of the CRO hasn’t been rolled into that of the CMO, this is a key person to align with.

Revenue officers are responsible for and measured on a company’s various revenue streams, so a key component of this alliance will be communicating the importance of strategies that win customers for life (and therefore, grow ongoing revenue streams).

While a CRO will likely be focused on hitting their numbers this quarter, the CMO must think about the customer experience over their entire lifetime with the company. So while the CRO might push for an end-of-quarter email blast, the CMO has to push back and emphasize the importance of ensuring all communications are hyper-personalized to avoid alienating customers.

To forge this connection, educate your CRO: 89 percent of financial services customers are more likely to do business with financial organizations that offer a personalized experience, and customers who find personalization “very appealing” are 10 times more likely to be among an organization’s most valuable.

IT Leaders

Like it or not, your website and electronic communication are primary ways your customers interact with you. For example, as many as 28 percent of retail bank customers engage with the bank only via digital channels. In the mortgage lending space, 75 percent of customers want digital applications.

But that doesn’t mean people are willing to sacrifice the kind of personalized experience they’d get by visiting their local branch: 52 percent of financial services customers want personalization when they visit your website and 39 percent expect a customized app experienced. And in lending specifically, 65 percent of people still want humans around to explain terms to them.

Plus, if your IT team maintains an external-facing help desk, customers will also communicate directly with IT team members when they’re most frustrated and vulnerable.

That means CMOs will have to work with IT leaders to make sure they understand the importance of customer tickets in their queue – and how to engage with customers in a way that will build brand loyalty. (Hint: getting the CRO on your side may help if you’re having trouble.)

One way to get buy-in from IT is to invest in software that enables you to make basic changes to your website and electronic communications without their input – that will save everyone time and energy.

Championing the Customer 24/7

While it’s good news that many financial services organizations now recognize the importance of investing in customer experience, it’s also critical to recognize that this industry is working against a trust deficit: between 2017 and 2018, customer trust in financial institutions fell 23 points (on a 100-point scale) in the United States.

That’s a disastrous decline. And it means the CMO’s ownership of customer experience is more important than ever to financial services organizations’ overall health. That remains a tall order, but the realities of the marketplace likely mean that leadership will recognize the importance of facilitating collaboration among various groups within the organization.

For today’s customers, hyper-personalization and relevance are essential to rebuilding trust, and CMOs can only make that available by working collaboratively with their colleagues.