While marketers often pride themselves as the representative of the customer for their organisations, in a surprising observation by Forrester principal analyst Tom Mouhsian, he says that finance folks actually have an easier time telling the customer story than marketers.
“It is much easier to ask a CFO to [talk about] the customer experience, than the CMO who talks about how customer satisfaction [leads to] return on equity (ROE),” he said. While we all know that customer experience and finance are inevitably linked, many in the customer experience profession actually struggle putting a real number to the value of customer experience. Words such as “customer satisfaction” are not directly attributable to financial performance. “[Customer satisfaction] is indicative and creates a gut feeling that what you're doing is right, but it is not easily quantified,” he said.
This is why, more than ever, CMOs need to build relationships with CFOs and be aligned in their vision. “To build a relationship with your CFO, the customer story needs to be connected to the money story,” said Mouhsian. Moreover, at the end of the day, CFOs hold the money that CMOs require for their innovations for the company.
As a tip to marketers, he added, "If you want to be truly customer centric and prove it, you have to connect financial to CX".
Breaking the camps
He added that in most organisations there are now “camps” from finance to operations and IT and marketing, and this needs to change. “The 'finance' and the 'customer' camp tend to be really far from each other. But yet they are very important [to each other] and cannot live without each other. One tells the money story, and the other tells the customer story,” he said.
Mouhsian added that it is now more important than ever that marketing and finance merge to jointly tell both "the money story and the customer story".
“One of the calls I am making now, is that everything is connected. If good customer experience and positive engagement with your customers drive loyalty, it defines the money story. It then affects the top value at any organisation - the shareholder value,” he said.
The ideal, he added, would be if "the customer people knew how to tell the money story, and the money people knew how to tell the customer story". Then, the finance and marketing departments would clearly be aligned.
Mouhsian also gave some tips to getting there:
- Understand how CX not only makes money, but how it also saves money: By telling your C-suite stakeholders both of these plots in that story, you will be much more apt to tell the money story because good CX isn't just about driving revenue as we have seen.
- Create an alignment: Many CMOs still talk to their CFOs only during their C-suite meetings. But to create a successful relationship, the conversation needs to be ongoing as it becomes a partnership.
- Flip the switch: CMOs need to start testing, recording and measuring their investments to get in line with the finance lingo and start telling the money story.
At the end of the day, by engaging customers meaningfully (which often starts at great CX), marketers can retain more customers for a longer time and insuring their loyalty, and organisations can reduce costs and risks and eventually, earn more.