Getting your CMO a seat at the digital transformation table

Get your CMO a seat at the Digital Transformation table

Over 80% of CMOs are missing out on the opportunity to lead or play a larger role in CX-led digital transformation.

Beyond designing customer journeys and improving touchpoints, great customer experience (CX) improves the bottom line: increasing revenue and customer lifetime value; lowering the cost of sale and reducing customer service incidents. Remaining competitive is the hallmark of successful CX. 

Yet when the need arises to transform an organisation with the customer in mind, many businesses are still failing – failing to empower the right leader for the job.

Forrester reports that “only 16% of Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) are responsible for leading the execution of their firm’s digital transformations, despite CMOs possessing the best insights into the customer,” (

Tasked with understanding and engaging customers, CMOs are ideal to lead or co-lead with operational leaders a customer-focused digital transformation.  First-rate CMOs are intimately versed in how your customers behave and what they value: collecting insights that the wider organisation can use to improve operations, culture and offerings. When improving CX is the driving force behind digital transformation, no position in the company is more suited to spearhead the program than the CMO. But if leading CX-led transformations is outside the CMO’s remit, the CMO must learn to engage and influence outside their department.  

The following strategies help CMOs achieve buy-in from other executives and make impactful change across the organisation.

Top 3 Recommendations:

1. Tailor the language of “opportunity” to each different executive

Communication is the cornerstone of success, but everyone has a different definition of success. For example, the CEO may perceive success as meeting organisational milestones, gaining market leadership and growth; the CFO as money save, cash-flow improved or costs avoided; and the Head of People and Culture as the number of high performing people acquired or retained. As a CMO, you need to tailor your message according to each key stakeholder. Speak the language that your audience understands and better yet, find common ground where the benefits of digital transformation are clear.

2. Utilise CX metrics to identify key improvements and link CX practices to performance metrics (aka business outcomes)

To move forward into the desired customer-centric mentality, it is crucial that the performance of current CX practices are examined. To make impactful changes to your organisation requires an understanding the ‘gap’ between your current and desired outcomes. If obtaining the necessary data is difficult (or requires systems outside your control), partner with a peer to run small tests with specific metrics to gain a clear picture of the current state and quantify the opportunity. Partner with leaders known for their early adopter traits, or business leaders not be meeting their KPIs (who may be highly motivated to try something new!)

Once improvements are quantified, help employees understand and adopt the desired changes to processes, attitudes and behaviours. Armed with data, show – don’t tell – what’s possible and link benefits to department KPIs and role-based outcomes. For example, if you want customer service employees to be more customer-centric, run a friendly competition on which operator first achieves the desire result (ie: best Net Promoter Score or Customer Satisfaction Rating). Developing employee confidence and changing their actions using incentives is a powerful method – particularly when the timeframe for implementing change is compressed.

3. Always come with a strategy: a Change Management strategy

Change does not occur in a vacuum. CMOs looking to make an impact must plan to engage with stakeholders and change agents; identify likely resistance; help mitigate risk and importantly – gain support from key decision makers such as the CEO. Developing a change management strategy will help you achieve this.

“It is not enough to champion change loudly – even positive, CX-focused change. Leaders must fully comprehend the impacts they are proposing in order to effectively engage peers and co-opt departments into your plan”, says Lauren Ryder, CEO of Leading Edge Global.

“Transformation is, by its nature, disruptive. Prepare early with a change management plan and you’ll find yourself more understanding of the challenges you’ll face – and who is best to help you overcome them.” 

A change management strategy also helps to communicate your ideas and gain support. With your customer insights, outline your vision of success, objectives and customer-valued changes to the extended management team. This enables the leadership team to take ownership of changes that affect their departments to improve adoption.

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Create the change you want

The CMO is a valuable contributor to the digital transformation of a business and can be an impactful leader of change. As an advocate for, and conduit to, an organisation’s customer, a CMO can help elevate the need for and results of CX-led transformation.

Leading change can be a challenging path. But you don’t have to go it alone. If you enjoyed this blog and are ready to lead transformation across your business, be sure to check out our professional development and change management training and confidently take your seat at the table.

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