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Companies have long been trying to achieve a single view of their customers, but they’re still struggling to do so. Just 22% of senior marketers (primarily from large consumer-facing companies) responding to a CMO Council survey [download page] said that a single view of the customer is realistic and attainable for their organization today.

So what’s missing? At least half of respondents pointed to 4 areas that would help:

  • A single record of a customer that the entire organization contributes to and is continuously updated and available across the entire enterprise (65%);
  • Technologies that help organize all data about the customer under one identifier (53%);
  • Cross-functional data, including marketing, sales, service and support, finance, supply chain, operational and commerce data (52%); and
  • Data and intelligence from every function/department of the organization (50%).

These results collectively indicate that marketers’ top needs relate in some way to cross-functional co-ordination of data, underpinned by technology.

Marketers are certainly investing in technology, presumably in an effort to meet these requirements. Fully 78% have implemented a new marketing, data, analytics or customer engagement technology platform or solution in the past year. Additionally, among those who have implemented such a platform or solution, the majority (53%) estimated having installed at least 5. Much of the time, these implementations have been done to replace, upgrade or enhance an existing technology as opposed to onboarding a completely new solution.

By far the leading reason why marketers have replaced or enhanced an existing solution is that the existing technology was not connecting data and channels in the way that marketers had hoped, which speaks to the focus on a single view of the customer.

Marketers have a lot riding on the success of those investments. While 3% believe their job is definitively at risk if an investment fails to meet expectations, another 48% feel that it could possibly be, though they recognize there are factors beyond technology that have a direct impact on their role.

Those findings bring to mind previous research from SAP, in which B2B buyers expressed a range of purchase decision risks, including losing credibility internally and losing their job.

Other Survey Highlights

  • Exactly half of respondents rate the overall state of their organization’s customer experience as “not very good” (47%) or “poor” (3%).
  • The main ways in which respondents’ customer experience and engagement strategies have changed in the past year are through accelerated data and IT initiatives to better close skills and capabilities gaps (35%) and through increased demands for individualized experiences from a digitally connected customer. New research from the DMA also finds that consumer expectations are driving corporate CX initiatives.
  • The top area that marketers will be focusing attention on in the coming year to advance CX strategy and improve CX outcomes is applying knowledge about customer context to reshape communications, content and campaigns.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of more than 200 senior marketing executives in primarily consumer-facing industries. The majority (57%) of respondents are from companies with annual revenues of more than $1 billion.

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