Commentary

CMOs And COOs: Finally, A Love Story

Romance might be in the air for some today, but it’s a safe bet that most chief marketing officers and chief operating officers are not sending each other flowers -- they’re in a War of the Roses. Successful organizations know that coordinating marketing and operations efforts means more engaged, satisfied and loyal customers, yet CMOs and COOs are often at odds. What can we do?

The answer might be found in social intelligence, which captures the data that customers share about their experiences via social media so it can be translated into specific, operational insights that both CMOs and COOs can use to improve customer experiences -- and their bottom line. That data, mixed with some age-old wisdom about relationships, could finally have these two teams seeing hearts.

Don't sweat the small stuff, but do sweat the big stuff

When it comes to strategic business decisions, CMOs and COOs need to find common ground on the big picture -- namely, do people feel that your brand is worth spending time (and money) with again and again?

The bottom line here is usually “perceived value.” For example, one restaurant had great success branching into the better burger business, tapping into a lucrative market with affluent families and urban professionals. But when the company brought the same business model to a working class neighborhood targeted for revitalization, the second location’s reviews took a sharp downturn, and the social media feedback showed complaints about the high price of the meal compared to its size. Based on this data, the marketing and operations teams devised smaller and more affordable menu items that fared far better at the second location and quickly turned around its profitability.

Lesson learned: unless you know that customers across the board see the value in your product, it’s not growing your market share. 

Sometimes it’s good to keep up with the Joneses

The song might say “I love you just the way you are,” but that’s rarely the case for most businesses. Still, executives need to be thoughtful about how resources for upgrades are utilized, and it’s sometimes hard to tell which amenities are “must haves” versus “nice to haves.” A good barometer of this is often what the competition is up to -- and how your guests are comparing you to them.

A CMO recently used this information during a renovation project at a boutique hotel. Although the entire property would eventually get a facelift, the marketing and operations teams struggled to reach a consensus on where to start. The COO believed their pool and spa areas were lacking, but the CMO felt that the hotel’s shabby curb appeal was the main deterrent to guests. Parsing the social media feedback identified that the façade and lobby were indeed the lowest-scoring categories, particularly compared to a new hotel nearby. The unbiased data allowed them to prioritize their project accordingly and begin seeing improved guest numbers much more quickly.

Honesty is always the best policy

In order to accurately assess their business, CMOs and COOs need to honestly answer two key questions -- first, do customers know what to expect from us, and second, are we delivering according to those expectations.

Establishing the brand promise falls under the marketing team’s purview. But no matter how many creative campaigns they launch, CMOs can’t create brand advocates unless customers’ experiences meet or exceed their expectations. Unbiased social media reviews can reveal important truths about what’s happening on the ground and enable marketing teams to engage with reviewers on service issues or questions in real-time.

Delivering on the brand promise happens with the operations team. If the CMO is trying to regain a customer’s business after a negative review, it’s critical that the feedback is honestly assessed and then operationalized at the local level -- addressing the original issues stated from the customer’s first visit -- or else the problem will not be resolved and the CMO’s efforts will have been in vain. When marketing and operations teams use the information in tandem, it can work wonders for establishing brand loyalty; customers appreciate the quick response and often revise negative reviews to reflect satisfaction.

See? Lasting love between CMOs and COOs is possible -- with the right mix of social intelligence, consideration and touch of Cupid’s arrow.

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