NEW YORK: Chief marketing officers are under pressure from boardrooms to improve customer experience, but few CEOs have actually made this issue a strategic priority, according to a new study.

The survey of CMOs, conducted by researchers at Gartner and the CMO Club, found that 46% placed "leading the customer experience cross-functionally at all touch points" among the top three most-increased expectations placed on them by senior management.

But, when they were asked about those areas in which they have made most progress, customer experience came in last. And just 6% said it had been a priority in 2014, Advertising Age reported.

"It's a new expectation and it's a difficult expectation," according to Laura McLellan, vp/marketing strategies at Gartner and the author of the report.

She attributed the lack of progress in part to that newness, as "the importance of a consistently positive customer experience across all channels and company touchpoints has only recently grown in visibility as a top-level strategic priority".

Another contributing factor was whether CMOs wielded sufficient authority within their organisations.

McLellan added, however, that the requirement to lead in this area presented a great opportunity for CMOs to gain more influence within their companies but they would have to act soon. "Now is the time," she declared.

Indeed, Gartner believes that by 2016 companies will compete primarily on the customer experiences they deliver.

Separately, has looked at how the corporate marketing function is evolving and how CMOs need to adapt in the coming months.

It said that customer experience would become a strategic priority in 2015 and one that would require a dedicated marketing executive. Forward-thinking CMOs should seek to fill this role.

"At the senior-executive level, you need a strong executive sponsor who understands the dynamics of the new, empowered buyer and can make sure this integration at the implementation level succeeds, and remains focused on strategic outcomes," said Bill Lee, founder of the Center for Customer Engagement.

"In my experience," he added, "if you leave this up to implementation teams or committees it won't work."

Data sourced from Advertising Age,; additional content by Warc staff