Guest Blogger

Forrester Research recently released a report highlighting 15 business dynamics that will change how companies operate in 2017 – what they are calling the “age of the customer.” You can click here to read the Forrester research, but I want to highlight one dynamic they mention in particular.

It’s going to be a tough time to be in charge of marketing. As the report says:

“…But staying in place is risky. We predict that CEOs will exit at least 30% of their CMOs for not mustering the blended skill set needed to drive digital business transformation, design exceptional personalized experiences, and propel growth.”

A third of marketing leaders will be let go in the near future because they can’t adjust to the customer-centric type of organisation that customers are now demanding. That’s a bold prediction.

However, this merely attempts to quantify research that Gartner published last year when they tried predicting how the customer experience would work in 2020. Gartner put forward the concept of a Customer Experience Hub, meaning that every customer-facing department inside an organisation would need to be working as a single unit. That means marketing, customer service, advertising, sales, PR – they all need to become one team focused on managing the customer relationship.

Clearly the destruction of these silos is going to be difficult for some companies, but in an environment where customers are demanding a different type of engagement with brands it is becoming an essential change. When a customer uses various channels to ask a brand questions, they don’t care if it is a customer service or marketing professional answering those questions.

Customers no longer make a purchase then call a customer service number if they need help. They expect to be able to engage with brands before, during, and after a purchase, building a relationship that may persevere even if there is a long period of time before the next purchase. Think about how many times you might have asked a hotel chain or airline questions online without even having a booking? Or asked a supermarket about a recipe idea? Or asked a sports brand about how best to choose a new pair of running shoes?

Customer engagement is now more closely aligned with relationship management and so the Gartner proposal is an idea that many companies are exploring. As Forrester suggests, there might be casualties ahead as some directors try to protect their turf, but these will be the managers who can’t accept that companies need to be reshaped around the customer today. 2017 is going to be an exciting year full of opportunity for those who want to embrace the challenge ahead!

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