The overhead lights are burning out, the air is thick, and the CMO's office is nearly dead. The world outside is one of omnichannel communications, big data and accessing a consumer's "plugged-in" lifestyle. This office needs a CXO -- a chief experience officer.
Brands have three choices: Oust your CMO and hire a CXO; train or evolve the current CMO with the skills required of a CXO; or augment and optimize the office to support a CMO -- perhaps merging CIOs with CMOs. And sure, maybe it's just a title, but let's consistently establish the CXO role across organizations. Titles run the gamut today: chief digital officer, chief customer officer, chief omnichannel officer (i.e. Macy's). Let's cement change under the CXO and make a statement that the customer comes first.
Look at Macy's as a retailer that has put the customer first. The retailer is so in tune with technology and an omnichannel strategy that it aligned with Apple Pay days after the iPhone 6 launched, trumpeting such experiential services as same-day delivery in eight markets; an image search app that enables consumers to snap photos of items to check availability online; the launch of Shopkick beacons in every store (more than 4,000); the option of a digital fall fashion catalogue; and the inclusion of smart tablets in fitting rooms.
And take Delta Air Lines -- often lauded as the most formidable brand in creating data-driven, deep customer connections -- and how it transformed the face of its company, and more importantly, its revenue generation around the customer experience. For example, Tim Mapes, the original architect of the Delta customer experience, created the ability to track every gateway a traveler's bag goes through, from origination to destination, on the user's phone. Delta instilled consumer trust that your bag would indeed be waiting for you.
To be as good as these companies, brands need someone with a modern skill set -- someone who can cut through a scary loomis chart and drive audience amplification. Someone who can wade through complex shopper data: rich data, smart data, three-axis accelerometer data. This is data that knows where we are, who we are, our friends, our behaviors, and a complete view of our vitals.
For CMOs today, here's what your office needs to become an effective CXO:
1. An engineer. Someone who understands every step of how a consumer is connecting with a brand across all channels and platforms and engineer how to reach that consumer in real time.
2. A data analyst. Someone who can read and anticipate shopper data. It's knowing who you want to target now, when you want them, what makes them interact, and who is the next most likely person to fulfill the audience spectrum.
3. A developer. A person who speaks the language of digital and has his pulse on the technologies out there in order to develop, innovate and disrupt.
4. A designer. Consumer interactions and storytelling are often told through the lens of design; this person can deliver a hook in a new form factor.
5. A business degree. Don't worry, that MBA still has value. There's always the need to develop a business model and its potential role.
The recent "Global Chief Marketing Officer Study" from IBM, surveying more than 1,700 CMOs, cited a high level of consensus in what makes them nervous. Around 70% said they were "unprepared" in three areas: the explosion of data, social media and the growing number of channels and media.
The signs and successes are there: A new or reformed leader needs to be put in place to bring your office up to speed.