CMO’s new State of CX Leadership report finds functional misalignment hampering CX efforts

Our first report into the state of customer experience leadership in Australia is out now

More than one in five customer experience (CX) leaders are facing a disconnect between KPIs and metrics with marketing counterparts, hampering alignment and consistency across an organisation’s customer approach.

That’s just one of the many findings revealed in CMO’s inaugural State of CX Leadership report, released this week. This new annual research initiative is about gauging the state of customer experience leadership across Australian organisations today, both in terms of functional role and structure, as well as position and influence. The report is brought to you by Sitecore.

The report is based on a CMO survey of more than 125 Australian customer leaders and managers. Questions looked at which functional and/or business leaders are actually responsible for CX management within organisations today, the functions they oversee, metrics and measures used to understand and improve CX, technologies supporting CX efforts, skills development, relationship with marketing, and more.

From the first, the survey showed CX leadership as very much a work in progress. Who holds responsibility for CX was an early indicator: One in four boasted marketing leadership titles, such as CMO or head of marketing, while just shy of 30 per cent a ‘customer’ job title. A further 16 per cent identified as general management, followed by ‘chief customer experience /engagement officer’ (15%) and ‘chief customer officer’ (13%).

Diverse backgrounds are another aspect of CX leadership. Respondents with a ‘marketing’ background were as prevalent as those with ‘customer experience management’ or ‘service and support’.

When asked which function maintains responsibility for CX across the organisation, responses also varied. While 28 per cent identified office of the CMO, 22 per cent cited a dedicated CX function and 16 per cent the chief operating officer. More than one in 10 said CX was the responsibility of sales or the revenue function (12%).

Teams CX leaders are overseeing is another mixed bag. Top of the list are CX strategy and development and customer insights (46% and 41% respectively), followed by service and support (34%), communications (35%) and marketing (33%).

Four in 10 respondents report to the CEO/MD, but it’s also common to find reporting lines to general management locally, regionally or globally. Overall, 65 per cent sit on the executive leadership team.

Finding CX alignment

Beyond the very different respondent mix, the State of CX Leadership report shows evident gaps in CX approach and the inconsistencies and misalignments hampering CX ambitions today.

The one of these is the gap between marketing and CX. One in five respondents disagreed marketing and CX functions shared common KPIs and metrics relating to the customer, and a further 47 per cent were neutral on the subject. The same number also disagreed marketing was prioritising customer metrics in addition to campaign performance (20%) with only one in three agreeing to common ground.

This was despite 82 per cent stating company-wide customer metrics applied throughout their organisation. Common metrics used to gauge CX are brand tracking/health (37%), customer satisfaction scores (37%), churn (34%), conversion rate optimisation (32%) and customer lifetime value (30%).

Responding to the findings, Forrester senior analyst for CX, Riccardo Pasto, is surprised the disagreement between marketing and CX wasn’t even higher. He attributes this to the discrepancy between wanting to be more customer-led, and the reality of the modern marketing leader’s role and remit.

“The CMO role is often so fragmented, and they don’t own the 100 per cent CX remit,” he tells CMO. “Some marketers remain more focused on traditional acquisition activities and not so much on the retention and enrichment of core customers or reaching a state of relationship where you’re increasing share of wallet.

“Not every CMO has that as a KPI. And that’s the discrepancy. Whereas a CX professional is mostly correlated with retention and enrichments.”  

Yet even without end-to-end CX consistency, it’s clear CX programs are gaining more investment. Two-thirds of respondents reported CX budgets have gone up compared to 12 months ago, with 38 per cent citing increases of at least 10 per cent.

Four in 10 have dedicated CX budgets in their organisations, while the remainder cite CX budgets sitting anywhere from marketing (19%) to IT (11%), operations (11%) and sales/revenue (7%).

First launched in 2021, State of CX Leadership is a companion research initiative to CMO’s annual State of the CMO report, which provides a benchmark of marketing leadership.

Download your copy of the full State of CX Leadership report here.

Don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here.  

You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page


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