Customers are the life and blood of today’s businesses. The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is the champion of these VIPs, and in this role they must facilitate continuous, two-way conversations, both on a personal and professional level. Failing to do so could send the CMO’s career down the pan.

In the Cambridge Dictionary, a “conversation” is defined as: “a talk between two or more people in which thoughts, feelings, and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered, or news and information is exchanged.”

Businesses today are mostly getting the first aspect of this definition correct, and actively conversing with their clients. But there still many businesses failing on the second and most vital aspect – the exchange of valuable information.

The very foundation of customer-centricity must be based on a meaningful two-way dialogue that opens channels for feedback and enables a swift response to customer needs. But how can CMOs get it all right?

Engage and Add Value

The starting point is a platform for these conversations to take place. Valuable interactions won’t happen unless you make them happen. For example, online communities and social channels are invaluable, but always remember that there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. Engagement still needs that personal touch. Hosting customer user groups that meet regularly and holding roundtables will give your clients the chance to interact directly, as well as with their peers.

Be Personal

Don’t revolve all interactions around your products – this will inevitably see your customers lose interest quickly. Instead, tell persona-based stories they can relate to. Use data to your advantage to start personalised conversations that demonstrate you truly understand your customer’s challenges. Move away from the transactional and make the effort to understand their needs. Businesses that really differentiate themselves listen to their customers – tailoring business strategies to accommodate new-found insight.

Go above and beyond

Though listening to your customers may give you an insight into their needs, there could still be underlying issues they aren’t yet aware of. Offer them the chance to have post-sales ROI assessments which will gauge the value of your solution and demonstrate your commitment to their wellbeing. Involve your clients in the early stages of product design processes or beta programs and open up opportunities for co-innovation. It will show that you respect them as experts and that they are at the centre of your business.

Keep Your Promises

Don’t cross your fingers behind your back – keep your promises, and keep the tools that enable you to do so close to hand. A quality CRM system is a great tool here, and using it to its full extent to record as much customer data as possible will only help to strengthen relationships. Build analytical intelligence around conversations and track your customer data on one platform to predict your clients’ future needs. Always be one step ahead of the game. Lastly, share this information across the business – with the end goal being a fully integrated approach to customer-centricity without silos.

The CMO is ultimately the one responsible for facilitating and driving valuable conversations across the whole organisation. One of the most important things to achieve first will be rallying the company behind this customer-centric effort. Properly equipping your sales teams with relevant data will foster a joined-up approach, helping meaningful and personalised conversations to become second nature in the long term.

Those businesses which are failing to engage with their clients at the right time, with the right message, and through the right channel will ultimately lose customers to better equipped and more customer-focused competitors. In this scenario, the CMO will have a lot to answer for.

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