McDonald’s Corp. just named company veteran Manu Steijaert as its first global chief customer officer, who will lead a new customer experience (CX) team. The team will combine operations in data analytics, digital customer engagement, marketing, restaurant development, and restaurant solutions.

After CVS and Walgreens, here, too, the CMO reports to a chief customer officer, marginalizing their marketing role. Other CMOs are launching CX functions or embedding the CX discipline as part of their marketing organizations.

Over the past few months, my colleagues Joana de Quintanilha, Mike Proulx, and myself spoke with over 50 marketing and CX leaders, and many of them referred to a lack of organizational alignment and political tensions over who leads what. Egos and org structures are often one of the key elements blocking marketing and CX collaboration. Others include the fact that CX demands a long-term commitment, that CX is often wrongly seen as a marketing “add-on,” and that marketing and CX methodologies and toolsets lack alignment.

Let’s be real: There’s no silver bullet in terms of an organizational model; even if there was, organizations don’t change overnight. Multiple structural solutions exist, depending on your company’s culture, legacy, and CX maturity. Stop obsessing about who owns CX in your organization and instead use key catalysts like journey centricity, brand values, innovation, and employee experience (EX) to bring marketing and CX operations together. CMOs can accelerate the convergence between marketing and CX by:

  • Recognizing CX’s importance across the customer journey. CX isn’t just about client retention: It plays a key role in improving the prospect experience. CX leaders should work closely with their marketing peers to focus on growth opportunities: piloting new offerings, optimizing the prospect journey, and involving teams in design thinking and cocreation.
  • Using journeys to connect product, marketing, and customer service. In Forrester’s 2021 Global Marketing Survey, only 24% of global B2C marketers said they organize around the customer. Journey centricity is a core way to align the entire organization to be more customer-obsessed. Journeys are the starting point, the backdrop, and the connective tissue that bring marketing, product, and customer service together.
  • Ensuring a consistent brand experience in all customer experiences. You must define and execute on your brand strategy to narrow the gap between brand, customer, and employee experiences. Brand reveals the essence of the company to all stakeholders, while CX brings the brand to life.
  • Accelerating go-to-market innovation via a new operating model. Instead of trying to transform legacy infrastructure and tools in siloed organizations, some companies create new subsidiaries to accelerate innovation, launch new offerings and products, or enter adjacent markets. Innovation is the perfect opportunity to establish from scratch a new collaboration model between marketing and CX teams.
  • Driving cultural transformation through EX. EX exists at the crossroads of HR, IT, and marketing. Many leaders, especially in Europe, are investing more in EX as a competitive advantage. This is yet another opportunity for CMOs and CX leaders to collaborate to help other C-suite leaders develop the culture of the organization in line with its brand promise. CMOs are already playing a stronger role in getting employees to engage with CX by creating new employee journeys.

Customer experience is the top priority for 49% of global B2C marketers; 28% have already merged brand, marketing, and CX into a single team. Too many brands, however, still have marketing and CX silos that prevent them from creating aligned, resonant brand and customer experiences. As a result, they will fail to seize the opportunity to deliver on their brand promise through their customers’ journeys.

The pandemic has accelerated this phenomenon, with higher acquisition costs forcing companies to focus on customer retention. Successful organizations connect marketing and CX throughout the customer lifecycle.

Clients willing to access the latest data and best practices on the steps to follow to orchestrate CX transformation can access our brand-new report on our brand-new Forrester Decisions platform here.

You can also schedule an inquiry or register for Forrester’s CX EMEA event on September 30 to October 1, where I’ll share more details on how CMOs and chief experience officers (CXOs) must partner to transform the customer experience.