How to Build an Effective Marketing Team Structure That Prioritizes Customer Experience

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Businesses of all sizes are increasingly prioritizing customer experience, especially in how they structure their sales and marketing teams.

According to the 2017 Gartner Marketing Organization Capabilities survey, “Marketing organization structures vary widely, but data suggests declining popularity in functional organizations and a commensurate increase in customer experience orientation.”

By 2020, “21% of marketers will structure their organizations around customer experience.” (Full research available to Gartner clients.)

Investing in CX as a marketing team is an investment in customer loyalty and retention. This kind of brand loyalty is essential to a healthy small business.

how to build an effective marketing team structure that prioritizes customer experience

The time, energy, and resources it would take an enterprise-level company to transition the structure and focus of their marketing strategy is enormous. This gives small businesses a chance to leverage their agility, implementing this new marketing orientation faster than the titans in their industry.

What does it mean to have a CX orientation?

Most simply put, a customer experience orientation means your marketing team has sharpened its focus on the customer.

A CX-oriented marketing organization strives to understand, anticipate, and satisfy customer needs in pursuit of profitable, long-term growth.

Let’s break that down a bit:

Marketing that strives to understand, anticipate, and satisfy depends on a marketing team focused on designing and reacting to customer interactions, always with the goal of meeting (or ideally exceeding) their expectations.

This is a marketing team with a strategic understanding of data-driven customer personas, customer journey mapping, and customer analytics.

In shifting from a “functional organization” (structured by job title and/or team, e.g., advertising, sales, customer service) toward a CX orientation, marketing teams are taking on more ownership of the entire customer journey.

Building a marketing team around the dynamic nature of customer experience releases some of the pressure on the organizational structure. The focus should be on the capabilities and work style of team members, rather than on how the team is organized.

This is also a great opportunity to leverage resources and work collaboratively across what was previously constrained within organizational boundaries.

How can I build CX orientation into my marketing structure?

Investing in customer research is a great place to start building CX into your marketing structure. Tools such as customer survey software and customer journey mapping will empower your marketing team to inform their personas and journey maps in a way totally unique to your client.

The 2017 Gartner marketing survey affirms the importance of investing in CX and marketing technology: They were identified as the top two most important functional groups within the marketing organization.

groups of importance for marketing chart

(Source, November 2017)

Its placement as a top three group of importance for 39% of the survey respondents speaks to the importance of marketing technology and the need for marketing-tech skills on your team.

As you begin to shift from a functionality focus to CX, take the time to frankly assess the tech literacy of your marketing team.

Does your organization have the skill and capacity to realize the full value of the marketing technology you already use? Are there gaps along the customer journey that strategic marketing technology, such as email marketing, marketing automation, or social media marketing, could help you fill?

Committing to meaningful investments in people and technology bolsters your team’s ability to support CX initiatives as you transition to a CX orientation.

What kind of job candidate would thrive in this new marketing structure?

Last quarter, we covered building a marketing org chart, specifically hiring generalists versus hiring specialists. As you orient your marketing strategy toward CX, successful job candidates not only need to have the technical understanding for your key marketing technologies, they also need to have the soft skills required to thrive in a CX-focused environment.

The Gartner Marketing Organization Capabilities survey asked participants to rank the importance of seven generally sought after soft skills.

soft skills that support marketing success chart

(Source, November 2017)

Of the 300 asked, 74% of respondents indicated that creativity, defined within the survey as “the ability to explore and apply unique perspectives and problem-solving capabilities,” is the most important soft skill for marketing success.

Resourcefulness, “the ability to maximize use of a limited set of resources,” came in second, and adaptability, “the ability to change and adapt to new circumstances, requirements and challenges,” rounded out the top three.

The importance of creativity, resourcefulness, and adaptability falls precisely in line with what we understand about the increasingly dynamic nature of CX-oriented marketing and teams.

Creative and resourceful marketers will excel as they are challenged to build a marketing strategy around the customer’s experience through all the stages of the customer journey.

Curating a team with these skills will set your small business up for success as you transition your marketing strategy toward a CX focus.

Your smallness is your strength

The shift away from functional organizations toward a customer experience orientation is coming. By 2020, Gartner research predicts that one in five companies will have moved over to a CX structure.

Marketing leaders need a team that can effectively problem solve, make the most of marketing technology and resources, and change quickly as your small business requires. This is an excellent opportunity for your small business to beat the crowd and stand out to your potential and current client base.

A marketing team with a CX focus is a marketing team prepared for future growth and success in a digitally led world.

Looking for Marketing Automation software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Marketing Automation software solutions.

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About the Author

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Samantha Bonanno

Sam covers Buyer Marketing at Capterra, offering insights and thought leadership on marketing trends and best practices for small and midsize businesses. An Upstate New York native, Sam spends her free time backpacking with her dogs and holding snobby opinions on craft beer and single origin coffee.

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