Report: Aussie CMOs strive for customer centricity but hindered by pace of change

New Experian report outlines the customer centricity maturity curve Australian marketers and their organisations are on and why data analytics, leadership buy-in, resources and processes changes are vital for success

Australian marketing leaders know they must become more customer-centric but many are fighting a corporate pace of change that’s too slow and a fear of failure.

Those are the top-line findings of a new report, Customer Centric Transformation – How Australian CMOs are Driving Change, produced by Experian of 20 CMOs and more than 100 senior marketers across Australia. According to the research, more than 40 per cent of marketers believe the pace of change is too slow within their organisation.

However, more than 50 per cent of marketers in organisations with a less mature customer-centric approach don’t even feel up to the task, and rate themselves as “not very good” at customer-led initiatives. One big inhibitor is long timeframes involved in an organisation’s transformation, the report stated.

The research plotted businesses surveyed on a Customer Centricity Maturity Index as either ‘beginners’, ‘followers’, ‘challengers’ or ‘progressives’. Experian described ‘progressive’ organisations as those with a ‘CMO+’ at the helm who is more influential in the senior business landscape. ‘Progressive’ CMOs are also characterised by their ability to derive business benefits from customer-centric initiatives, as well as prove the ROI.

On the bright side, 63 per cent of marketers surveyed said they’d become more influential in the last 12 months, a figure that rose to 81 per cent for the ‘progressive CMOs’ driving customer-centric change in their organisation.

In addition, ‘progressive CMOs’ experienced a 75 per cent improvement in performance on average across key measurement metrics in the last 12 months, and more than 90 per cent are successfully measuring ROI and using these results to secure ongoing budget and resource.

Another stark reminder of the difference between the haves and have not is that 88 per cent of ‘progressives’ have sufficient budget for customer-centric initiatives, compared to just 8 per cent of beginners.

What was also apparent in the report was the discrepancy in time spend on customer-centric strategy versus traditional marketing functions. Across the board, CMOs spend 45 per cent of their time on customer-centric strategy, rising to 52 per cent with ‘challenger’ organisations, and 58 per cent with ‘progressives’. This drops to 35 per cent for ‘beginners’ and ‘followers’.

To back up its maturity index, Experian outlined five key indicators of customer-centric performance: Leadership, insights and analytics, resources, core processes and performance.

As an illustration of the difference between leading customer-centric organisations and those at the beginning of the journey, Experian reported that all ‘progressive’ organisations had an executive management team committed to an active in the customer-centric transformation process. They had also aligned organisational strategy to customer-centric outcomes. In contrast, just 19 per cent of ‘beginners’ had achieved the first, and 12 per cent the latter.

In addition, while all ‘progressive’ organisations are collecting customer feedback to improve customer experience, and more than three in four are working with customers to create products, services and experiences, only 12 per cent of ‘beginners’ are doing the same.

And while 85 per cent of ‘progressive’ organisations believe they have people with the right skills for customer-centric initiatives, only 8 per cent of ‘beginners’ feel the same.

“Digital disruption and market forces, along with changing customer behaviour and needs, are driving customer-centric change in Australia,” commented Experian managing director for A/NZ, John Mayakovski. “A new wave of customer-centric organisations poses significant challenges to more traditional organisations that are battling legacy structures and processes.”

Tips from Experian for CMOs striving for customer-centricity

  • Have the ear of the CEO
  • Be the knowledge champion for ‘everything consumer’
  • Broaden skills and invest time in customer-centric activities

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

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