A growing focus on customer experience (CX) is challenging marketing leaders to coordinate a holistic and innovative CX experience across all stages of the customer journey.

This requires close coordination and partnerships between the chief marketing officer (CMO) and the chief experience officer (CXO), who must plan digital transformation initiatives that offer multi-platform CX programs.

There are considerable points of overlap between the functions of the CMO and the CXO. Marketing owns many customer engagement points that are key drivers for customer experience, for example, the company’s website.

The potential for friction exists, however, when strategy and priorities are not aligned at the top, or when these are not communicated effectively to everyone in the organization.

Mary Kay Evans, CMO at Alida, a CX management software provider, explained successful organizations connect marketing and CX throughout the customer lifecycle.

“Both are focused on creating optimal customer experiences by identifying and delivering moments that matter,” she said. “Strong collaboration between these two disciplines brings it all together from strategy through execution by placing the customer at the forefront of every business decision.”

For example, a CXO and CMO can together use customer feedback to inform business decisions, learn from the sales teams, the customers’ viewpoints and pain points, and ensure this is communicated to other departments.

“This relationship will further optimize the experience of existing and future customers,” she said. “While collaboration between these roles is vital, ensuring it is continuous and frequent are also important considerations.”

Evans explained too many brands still have marketing and CX silos that prevent them from creating aligned, powerful brand and customer experiences.

As a result, they will fail to seize the opportunity to deliver on their brand promise through their customers’ journeys.

“No matter how great a brand or product, if reality and perception are not aligned, then strategy and targets will fail, leaving the customer confused,” she added.

Gerardo Dada, CMO at Keeper Security, a provider of cybersecurity software, said CX is becoming more and more important and can be a critical source of competitive differentiation for many companies.

“There is considerable overlap between what marketing and customer experience teams should be doing,” he explained. “Customer experience is a C-level function to give it more weight and to help influence areas outside of marketing more effectively.”

Dada suggested aligning strategy and objectives and working as a partnership where the CMO and CXO divide and conquer on the tasks needed.

He said CXOs can partner in key stages of their work: research and insights, strategy development and implementation. Marketing should also be at the table collaborating with customer experience in each of these steps.

“The CXO, CMO, and the CEO should be 100 percent aligned with the objectives, strategy, tactics and priorities,” he added. “Customer experience can then be very effective aligning and influencing internal alignment and priorities across all functions of the company.”

Evans said, while it is not integral for CXOs to directly report to the CMO, the relationship must be deeply collaborative.

“The potential friction point occurs when these two roles become siloed from one another and no longer work in unison,” she said. “Ensuring constant opportunities for collaboration is essential.”

She pointed out another possible friction point occurs when goals are not consistent between the CMO, CXO and their teams.

In some cases, CX can be seen as an “add-on” to marketing when, in reality, it is a long-term commitment that needs to be adopted as a core ideal in every single department.

“The customer journey is what connects all areas of the business together, and so, ensuring it is clearly aligned is essential,” she said. “Creating shared customers’ goals and setting clear expectations is vital to avoid this possible pain point.”

Tyler Shields, CMO at JupiterOne, a provider of cyber asset management and governance solutions, said the best CMOs are bridging the gap between data specific to marketing and data that drives the business.

“Traditional marketing technologies such as your marketing automation tool, SEO optimization, and web metrics, need to be directly connected to the business intelligence that results as an outcome,” he explained.

From his perspective, more and more CMOs should be looking towards traditional BI style tools to dive deeper into results driven marketing efforts.

Because the customer journey is the heart that brings the entire organization together, ensuring CX is continuously improved is important.

Evans added that without a clear understanding of how customers are interacting with brand and product, teams will be working with a giant customer blind spot.

“I’ve found that a best practice for a seamless customer experience integration has been by applying an integrated marketing approach,” she said. “This ensures every function of marketing works together using the same shared CX goal to produce content.”

She noted she has seen instances where a marketing team’s ability to execute on seamless CX integration can get blocked by siloed work, either within their own department or alongside other teams in the organization.

“When this occurs, the underlining CX goal can waver and become inconsistent with what customers are actually experiencing with the brand,” she said. “This is why an open channel for communication with the CXO and their team is integral to the success of marketing.”

Shields added today’s modern CMO must be a data person themselves.

“If you rely on someone else to build and run your marketing and business data analytics program, you won’t be intimate with the results and won’t truly understand how they are derived,” he said. “Rely on the finance and marketing data people to work together to build the metrics vision that tracks your data from lead creation to revenue.”

He noted the executive suite will buy off on this vision when you can provide them with business analytics value and help you get the resources you need to deliver.

Evans also pointed out the CMO and CXO can look to strengthen the relationship between their product marketing and customer service teams by establishing regular meetings to avoid any disconnect.

The two execs should also partner to implement a core focus on customer feedback and invite product marketers on calls with customers.

“The customer lives at the center of a marketer’s universe,” she said. “It is essential that brand specific alignment is strong between the CXO and CMO.”

As mentioned, the consequences of working in silos are great, and if no proper communication is established, the customer journey will not be consistent across the organization.

“The customer’s reality will need to be constantly evaluated and shared amongst teams to ensure all parties are speaking the same customer language,” Evans said.