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How are companies pursuing emotional connections?

Digital has changed the way businesses engage their customers. Instead of controlling one-way communication, businesses now have to learn to share ownership of brand perception and awareness. This requires companies to be more proactive and responsive to customers who serve as brand ambassadors. In response, we now see companies shifting their focus from product or service innovation to customer service and engagement innovation—reorienting their entire organization toward more customer-centric models.

Best-in-class customer experience drives increased retention, brand loyalty, and business growth. Most frequently, this has landed as the main challenge for CMOs and marketing organizations today. Deloitte analyzed trends in customers’ and marketers’ expectations of customer experience to understand what makes a best-in-class customer experience and how delivering it impacts the CMO role. Our researchers analyzed conversations between social media authors and marketers discussing how brands reorient to a customer-centric model, performing qualitative, and quantitative analysis of over 2 million pieces of social media content. Research uncovered major internal and external factors that CMOs should consider when developing customer experiences.

Measuring the value of emotional connections

We found that when an organization is able to create emotional connections, they are able to shift the customer’s perspective from “good” to “great.” Emotional customer experiences transcend seamless and predictive experiences by adding a layer of intimacy and unexpected interactions to delight customers. Despite these outcomes, successful examples of emotional experiences that are also integrated, seamless, and predictive are rare.

Why? Many brands and industries have not reached the level of maturity necessary to design emotional connections. Instead, they are focused more on resolving internal challenges as CMOs try to break down departmental barriers and implement the necessary infrastructure to build and manage customer experiences: Organizational buy-in, breaking silos, customer journey mapping, and building platforms. In fact, the conversation analysis revealed that 44 percent of discussions revolved around internal requirements such as organizational integration and enabling platforms, compared to only 22 percent of discussions on delivering external customer experiences.

The importance of a customer experience strategy

This emphasis, however, is backward. Prior to addressing internal challenges, a company and, more specifically, its CMO, should establish a customer experience strategy that guides both external engagement and internal alignment. The CMO should establish a customer experience vision, which can be developed by mapping out the organic customer journey to discover customer pain points and moments of truth at each interaction with the brand, illuminating opportunities for optimization and innovation. Through this process, the vision can help organize and prioritize internal structure and platform requirements.

CMOs can be influential catalysts in spreading the customer vision and driving cultural transformation. Organizational culture change is important for fostering buy-in across the organization, breaking internal data, talent, and budget silos, and increasing employees’ customer understanding. The CMO can lead this change by unifying departments under a customer-centric vision. This vision should empower employees to be more engaged with and empathetic to the customer in order to deliver positive customer experiences.

As a result of this organizational change, the CMO can increase his or her influence in the C-suite—and across the organization—leaving a legacy of strong customer connections.

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