With the proliferation of online platforms, power has shifted to the customer—and the customer is better informed and more demanding everyday. They express and share their experiences, appreciation, curses, and questions online about a product or service. With the social phenomena, it’s like high school gossip on steroids.

That makes customers the drivers of your brand. They control your message. Your business has to live up to their expectations. Smart CMOs have recognized this shift. Smarter CMOs have aligned their goals around the customer experience. And the best CMOs sit with their call centers to gather feedback.

In 2013, the C-suite is focused on customer obsession and delivering a customer experience that is as efficient and frictionless as possible. Most businesses capture only a fraction of their opportunities for customer engagement—they need to do a MUCH better job at seizing and optimizing every customer touch point. Necessarily, nearly 90% of CEOs cite customer engagement as their primary initiative in the next five years.

Of course, every employee must be enabled to own any customer interaction. Nobody owns the customer, but someone always owns the moment.

From an operational perspective, who should be stepping up?

The CCO?
There’s been talk of a new role to own the customer experience—the “Chief Customer Officer.” Identifying one owner is important, but will this individual have control over the necessary resources and budget? How will they work with the existing leaders of sales, marketing, and service?

The CMO?
The CMO is another viable option. Marketing started using social media first, as a new channel and extension of their digital platforms. And thinking through the customer experience is really just an amplification of thinking through the brand experience. But, traditionally, Marketing has been less interested in what happens after the sale is made.

The Service Leader?
Service leaders are already tied to the customer experience. Should they be stepping up? If Marketing has been responsible for the “presented” brand, then perhaps customer service is responsible for the “experienced” brand. However, unlike CMOs, Service leaders often do not have ‘a seat at the table.’

What is the correct approach? What is the path to delivering on the customer experience? For one, Marketing and Customer Service will need to kiss and make up—and figure out how to collaborate on the right technologies and processes to impact the end-to-end customer experience. More broadly, it’s about smashing down the departmental silos and getting the entire C-suite to step up. As an enabler of internal and external collaboration, the CIO’s role in driving the customer experience will be critical.

What’s next? To delve more into this discussion around the customer experience, join Bluewolf, salesforce.com, and Bunchball at the Redefining Customer Engagement Forum in Newport Beach on Feb 21st to discover how you can maximize every customer moment.