Should The Chief Customer Officer Oversee Marketing?

Should The Chief Customer Officer Oversee Marketing?

There’s a trend happening related to Marketing and Customer Experience leadership. McDonald’s hired its first (CXO) Chief Experience officer, Manu Steijaert, to advocate for customers in every business decision across the customer journey. Similarly, Walmart hired Janey Whiteside. And, Volkswagon did the same, and more are following the path.


Is Chief Experience Officer (CXO) a short-term strategy?

It seems like the answer is no, as more brands are restructuring their marketing efforts and investing in customer experience for the long term to gain a competitive edge beyond price. CX leaders and I share our perspectives with Neil Davey at MyCustomer, which you can read below. I know one thing for sure: Customer Experience, Marketing, and all departments need to partner and collaborate a lot. SILOS DO NO ONE ANY GOOD! I’m interested to hear your perspective.

Originally posted >here.


Some of the world’s biggest brands are restructuring so that the marketing department reports to the company’s customer experience leader. After years of the chief marketing officer having ownership of CX, why is this shift happening now – and will it stick?

When McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski decided that he wanted the fast-food giant to become more customer-centric and reflect the way that modern consumers engage with his restaurants, he realized a big change was required.

Therefore, last month McDonald’s announced the creation of a new customer experience team, headed by the company’s first chief customer officer. But the devil was in the detail. Because in order to remove the internal barriers and silos that Kempczinski believes were leading to fragmented customer experiences, he also restructured the organization so that new CCO Manu Steijaert would have multiple teams reporting into him, including data analytics & digital customer engagement, global restaurant development & restaurant – and global marketing.

This structure, with marketing reporting into CX, is something of an emerging trend. A similar reshuffle at Walmart has chief customer officer Janey Whiteside overseeing the retail behemoth’s marketing department.

The news has been warmly welcomed in some quarters. Commenting on the news of McDonald’s restructure on LinkedIn, author, and keynote speaker Jason S Bradshaw said: “This is absolutely the way it should be. As the first Chief Customer Officer of Volkswagen Group Australia, the work got even better when I became the first Chief Customer & Marketing Officer … marketing is selling a brand promise – that has to be aligned to the Customer Experience delivered.”

And on the same thread, Mike Soldan, chief experience officer at Shmoop added: “We just moved Marketing into my org and the accuracy and effectiveness of our value prop has gone through the roof. No one knows what your customers want/need to hear more than the people that built and support the products and customers.”

Should the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) oversee customer experience?

Some were surprised by the move, however. Sandra De Zoysa, group chief customer officer at Dialog Axiata, notes: “This trend is rather intriguing to me personally. Traditionally, customer service and CX sell under the purview of the CMO and in more recent times, under the chief digital officer, where there is no CCO. However, to think that in the future these roles will be reversed and the CMO’s portfolio can actually fall within the CCO is a huge shift of power in the right direction. Wow!”

Indeed, historically customer experience has often reported to the CMO, rather than the other way around. And research from the CMO Council from earlier this year found that many senior business executives in large organizations believe it to be the role of their marketing department to have ownership of the customer experience. But many in CX circles believe that this is a flawed structure.

Chief customer service experience officer Alex Mead says: “This is by far the most common approach being taken by organizations, and from my perspective, it is completely wrong. Marketing leaders lack the understanding of the importance of slick, effortless, engaging customer interaction and service experiences, nor do they have the knowledge on how to deliver what modern-day customers want. That is why we often see companies with amazing brand & marketing experiences, losing their customers because of awful customer service experience journeys.

“If the CMO truly walks in their customers’ shoes, experiences painful multichannel customer contact designs observes the effect of missing/late deliveries, spots the huge frustration from customers that can’t easily ask a question across the channel they want, and in the way they want, AND THEN if they truly take the time to understand the customers’ pain points, and empower the right people to address them, then that can be used to positively influence the entire company’s brand and marketing strategy. But the reality is this is a very rare situation indeed.”

Should the Chief Customer Officer oversee Marketing?

Unsurprisingly, then, the CX community has welcomed the idea that the new structure could proliferate.

Speaker, author, and writer about Doing Customer Experience (CX) Right, Stacy Sherman, has spent her entire career in sales, marketing, and CX roles, and believes the growth in CXO roles and the resulting restructures will be a very positive thing for companies.

“I believe there is a trend happening and companies like McDonald’s and Walmart are paving the way. If you search on common job sites, you’ll see companies are hiring CX managers and related executive positions at a faster rate than ever before. That’s because a CXO has unique skills and training to guide a company’s direction and investments (tools, resources) that are in the best interest of customers. Likewise, a customer experience officer knows how to influence people to feel that they have a customer experience job, even when they don’t interact directly with customers. Without such a culture, loyalty goals can’t be achieved.

“I don’t see any negatives with CXO/CCO overseeing marketing, other than it will take time to gain believers and supporters.”

What do you think?

Let’s keep the conversations going. Join me on social media.

If you like this article, you may also enjoy:

What’s the Fate of the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) in reaction to Wallstreet Journal article. (ARTICLE)

How & Why the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) & CXO must partner closely together. (ARTICLE)

Is Customer Experience (CX) the NEW Marketing? (PODCAST):


CMO And CXO Must Partner To Transform The Customer Experience

CMO And CXO Must Partner To Transform The Customer Experience

There’s been much debate about the role of Chief Experience Officers (CXO). A recent Wallstreet Journal article raises questions about whether or not the CXO position will become obsolete. Other publications inform that there is a fast-growing trend of companies hiring CXOs and/or promoting within for the long term, which I’m a fan of.  I can’t predict the future, yet I know for sure that department silos do no one any good. Customer experience and marketing teams must blend and work together regardless of where they sit in an organization.  

Featured Guest Post is by , VP, Principal Analyst~ Forrester

He dives deeper into CXO and CMO topics and the importance of working closely together to achieve both customer and employee brand loyalty.  Thomans original article here.

Read, Apply Best Practices and Pay it forward.


McDonald’s Corp. just named company veteran Manu Steijaert as its first global chief customer officer, who will lead a new customer experience (CX) team. The team will combine operations in data analytics, digital customer engagement, marketing, restaurant development, and restaurant solutions.

After CVS and Walgreens, here, too, the CMO reports to a chief customer officer, marginalizing their marketing role. Other CMOs are launching CX functions or embedding the CX discipline as part of their marketing organizations.

Over the past few months, my colleagues Joana de Quintanilha, Mike Proulx, and I spoke with over 50 marketing and CX leaders, and many of them referred to a lack of organizational alignment and political tensions over who leads what. Egos and org structures are often one of the key elements blocking marketing and CX collaboration. Others include the fact that CX demands a long-term commitment, that CX is often wrongly seen as a marketing “add-on,” and that marketing and CX methodologies and toolsets lack alignment.

Let’s be real: There’s no silver bullet in terms of an organizational model; even if there was, organizations don’t change overnight. Multiple structural solutions exist, depending on your company’s culture, legacy, and CX maturity. Stop obsessing about who owns CX in your organization and instead use key catalysts like journey centricity, brand values, innovation, and employee experience (EX) to bring marketing and CX operations together. CMOs can accelerate the convergence between marketing and CX by:

  • Recognizing CX’s importance across the customer journey.

     CX isn’t just about client retention: It plays a key role in improving the prospect experience. CX leaders should work closely with their marketing peers to focus on growth opportunities: piloting new offerings, optimizing the prospect journey, and involving teams in design thinking and co-creation.

  • Using journeys to connect product, marketing, and customer service.

     In Forrester’s 2021 Global Marketing Survey, only 24% of global B2C marketers said they organize around the customer. Journey centricity is a core way to align the entire organization to be more customer-obsessed. Journeys are the starting point, the backdrop, and the connective tissue that bring marketing, product, and customer service together.

  • Ensuring a consistent brand experience in all customer experiences. 

    You must define and execute on your brand strategy to narrow the gap between brand, customer, and employee experiences. Brand reveals the essence of the company to all stakeholders, while CX brings the brand to life.

  • Accelerating go-to-market innovation via a new operating model.

     Instead of trying to transform legacy infrastructure and tools in siloed organizations, some companies create new subsidiaries to accelerate innovation, launch new offerings and products, or enter adjacent markets. Innovation is the perfect opportunity to establish from scratch a new collaboration model between marketing and CX teams.

  • Driving cultural transformation through EX. 

    EX exists at the crossroads of HR, IT, and marketing. Many leaders, especially in Europe, are investing more in EX as a competitive advantage. This is yet another opportunity for CMOs and CX leaders to collaborate to help other C-suite leaders develop the culture of the organization in line with its brand promise. CMOs are already playing a stronger role in getting employees to engage with CX by creating new employee journeys.

Customer experience is the top priority for 49% of global B2C marketers; 28% have already merged brand, marketing, and CX into a single team. Too many brands, however, still have marketing and CX silos that prevent them from creating aligned, resonant brand and customer experiences. As a result, they will fail to seize the opportunity to deliver on their brand promise through their customers’ journeys.

The pandemic has accelerated this phenomenon, with higher acquisition costs forcing companies to focus on customer retention. Successful organizations connect marketing and CX throughout the customer lifecycle.


What are your views about CXO and CMO roles?

Do both positions exist where you work? Do you think CX is the new marketing? Is Marketing the new Customer Experience? As you form opinions, check out my fun debate with Colin Shaw on his recent podcast.

The Great Debate: Is Customer Experience The New Marketing?

The Great Debate: Is Customer Experience The New Marketing?

There is no denying the fact that Customer Experience (CX) is a brand differentiator. Similarly, we know that Marketing has significant importance in companies of all sizes and industries too. What is less clear and the source of great debate: is Customer Experience the new Marketing? Is Marketing the new CX? Are they the same or completely different?

I first asked this question in Clubhouse, a social networking app where people can chat about shared interests. The answers varied as they did on my LinkedIn poll below.

Is Customer Experience the new marketing

My curiosity continues to grow. While I’m not a debater, I accepted the challenge and went head to head with my friend and smart customer experience expert, Colin Shaw. He invited me to be a guest on his popular “the Intuitive Customer” podcast to discuss our different views.

Press play to listen to our debate: Is Customer Experience The New Marketing?


What’s the Relationship Between Customer Experience & Marketing Team:  

Colin does not think Customer Experience replaces traditional marketing. I believe is it blending in, and over time, may taking over.  Let’s take a closer look at what we mean.

Colin’s Position: We have a lot of evidence showing that if you improve your Customer Experience, you will gain more customers. But does that mean you should take the marketing budget and spend it on improving the Customer Experience? No. While he agrees that improving your Customer Experience is essential to gaining more revenue, there is still value in traditional marketing channels. Customer Experience, therefore, shouldn’t replace traditional marketing but work alongside it.

My Position: I agree that the marketing and Customer Experience champions have to work together. However,  what marketing does sets the stage for what Customer Experience will do. I believe marketing has been about creating a brand with consistency in feelings, colors, the logo, and messaging. Customer Experience takes that brand awareness to another level, beyond awareness as a concept but manifesting that through the actual Customer Journey, from end-to-end. The actions started by marketing are finished by Customer Experience, which is why it is the “new” marketing.

Before we go any further, let’s discuss…

The Definition of Customer Experience & Marketing  

Colin provides a good explanation: “Customer Experience is an entire interaction that a person has with the organization, including the rational, emotional, subconscious, and psychological aspects. It could begin with passing a billboard (designed by marketing) or seeing an article about the company (placed by marketing). The point is, it starts long before a customer goes to a store or calls into the call center.”

The American Marketing Association says that “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value to customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Colin’s Position: “Marketing delineates the marketplace and, therefore, should work out the features and benefits of the organization’s offer along with the brand promise that shapes the desired experience. If you imagine that you started a company, the initial activities of marketing would provide the framework to determine the experience that the organization gave to the customer.”

My Position: I don’t see marketing breaking silos across the organization or designing that end-to-end experience. The reality is that while marketing is instrumental to the Customer Experience team, it is the Customer Experience team that brings in the other (siloed) departments like marketing, finance, and other operational departments to own the experience. Thus, Customer Experience brings the organization together. I believe that CX is bridging the gap between theory and what is happening in experiences.

Let’s Dive Into Theory

Colin’s Position: Customer Experience is a subdiscipline under marketing. The marketing team sets the theory by defining the target customer, segmenting the market, and positioning the offering. You can’t express the Customer Experience before you set the target customer and the offering in my mind. Therefore, in theory, Customer Experience can’t replace marketing because it’s a subset of it. However, once you get out of theory, it’s Customer Experience that does anything with these definitions. So, in practice, Customer Experience is not a subset of marketing but a separate entity with the same goals and mindset as marketing for customers and the offering. From that perspective, it is as if marketing is the theory and Customer Experience is the practice. In other words, marketing defines what they want for customers at a conceptual level, but Customer Experience teams actually do it.

My Position: I believe there is a difference, and while the two departments blend, Customer Experience takes the feelings marketing seeks to evoke and elevates it to the next level. Customer Experience evokes emotions, measures the feelings, and whether customer expectations are met. It is the continuous measurement and fixing and closing the loop that makes a huge difference. Marketing alone doesn’t do all that.

For example, organizations want to create a positive first impression during customer onboarding. So, while marketing will develop the collateral, the onboarding message and process content develop in partnership with the Customer Experience team. I believe the Customer Experience team is at the forefront of understanding what customers want and what they need to have a great experience and elicit positive feelings. Customer Experience brings that outside view into designing the onboarding experience and then putting it to market and measuring that. The marketing team then creates the messaging to solicit those feelings and enforce that desired brand image. This relationship between the experience and the messaging is why  Customer Experience and marketing teams should blend.

Colin proceeds to say he thinks I might be right…(I’m still smiling).


So, What Do We DO with This Information?

There are differences of opinion here, but ultimately, the ideas are not as far apart as we initially thought. The main difference is the idea of what could be and what actually is. So, if we were to say that Customer Experience is the new marketing, here are some practicalities that you can use in your organization,

1. Have both entities represented at your organization.

Some organizations only have a marketing team. Others have both. Both Colin and I would like to see the awareness and understanding that both skill sets drive value for customers and, ultimately, the bottom line. Maybe that’s a person with a diverse skill set, or maybe two teams, but both should be present in a company, and their work can merge. Traditional marketing isn’t enough. There has to be a collaboration between Marketing and Customer Experience to win as a company.

2. Don’t have an either-or mentality. 

Colin and I agree to avoid extremes. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Customer Experience does not need to replace marketing, and not the other way round either. Improving experience helps you gain more, but Customer Experience efforts should be in conjunction WITH the marketing team instead of the marketing team. Think of Customer Experience as Marketing 2.0. Another way to think of it is that marketing can’t be done now without Customer Experience.

3. Have your executive team reflect on the collaboration. 

In addition to blending the activities of the two departments, I strongly encourage organizations to have equal representation for both ideas at the c-suite level. In other words, if you have a CMO, then you need a CXO in the office next door.  

These discussions are fun. And to quote Colin,

None of us is as clever as all of us. Therefore, no one has all the answers. Yet, these discussions are great because they bring up the level of everyone’s game, whether you win the debate or (ahem) lose it.

Colin Shaw

 There you have it. No promotions, no gimmicks, just good information. 

Interested in another debatable topic?

ReadWhat’s the Fate of a Customer Experience Officer (CXO)?  My response to the Wallstreet journal article presents different views. I’m interested in hearing yours. Let’s keep the CX conversations going.

What’s The Fate of A Customer Experience Officer (CXO)?

What’s The Fate of A Customer Experience Officer (CXO)?

A recent Wallstreet Journal article discusses the idea that some customer experience officers are aspiring to make their roles obsolete. Best Buy Co chief customer officer and executive, Allison Peterson, is quoted as saying: “My goal is to create an environment where we are so obsessed over the customer that a separate person or team doing it doesn’t need to exist.” While some leaders are raising doubt on the longevity of the role, people like myself believe the customer experience officer (CXO) job is increasing in importance and far from ending.


The Trend of Customer Experience Officer (CXO) Role

If you search on common job sites, you’ll see companies are hiring CX managers and related executive positions at a faster rate than ever before. The trend is rising and paving the way for change management. That’s because a CXO has unique skills and training to guide a company’s direction and investments (tools, resources) that are in the best interest of customers. Likewise, a customer experience officer knows how to influence people to feel that they have a customer experience job, even when they don’t interact directly with customers. Without such a culture, loyalty goals can’t be achieved.

Besides my observations, research indicates organizations are taking customer experience (CX) seriously by committing more resources and talent to the discipline. Gartner reveals:

In 2017, more than 35% of organizations lacked a chief experience officer (CXO) or chief customer officer (CCO) or equivalents, but in 2019, only 11% and 10% lacked one or the other role, respectively.

Gartner 2019 Customer Experience Management Survey

Golden Rule for Customer Experience Officer

A CXO can’t live on an island alone. Like any other executive position, collaboration and partnerships with every department are essential for positive changes to happen. CX needs to be methodical, intentional, consistent, and a shared passion; the same holds true for EX (employee experiences). You can’t have CX without great EX, which is why employee engagement and driving commitment to customer excellence is part of the CXO job and not a short-term strategy.

Conclusion: Will the Need For A Customer Experience Officer End?

I believe the answer is maybe when my kids have kids. We have a long way to go as technology advances and dehumanizes experiences. A CXO ensures that the Internet of Things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), and other ways of doing business enhance customer experiences, and not supersedes actions like sending a personalized handwritten letter. That’s irreplaceable.

For those who have a goal to become a CXO or in the job now, I give you a standing ovation because it’s not an easy career and requires a “high level of effort.”  There’s a lot of obstacles, yet it’s a leadership role that is so important not just for business but also for the greater good.

What are your thoughts? Do you think CXO and related leadership roles will go away at most organizations in the foreseeable future?

Want To Advance Your CX Career & Transform Your Organization?

Contact me for mentorship. Also, get certified online at a reputable university. Get more details and an unadvertised promotion code.