Why every business needs a Chief ZMOT Officer

As the CEO convened her board meeting, the first person she turned to for an update was Stephanie, the Chief Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) Officer.

A series of stats and metrics rolled off Stephanie’s tongue:

“Things are good today. Staff participation on social media is 78%, our social net promoter score is up three points brand visibility is up and our trust score is at its highest YTD.”

Who is Stephanie and what is a ZMOT Officer? She isn’t real and the role doesn’t exist. But my guess is the role or something similar will exist in the next 5 years. If a business really gets ‘social business’ then this role will command a seat at the board.Chief ZMOT Officer

What is ZMOT? Google coined it. It’s the stage in the buying process when a consumer uses online sources to inform their decision. Google estimate that on average consumers use 10 different sources during research. Clearly the amount of research and the variety of sources used, varies by product. The ZMOT when someone is booking a restaurant might just involve a post on Facebook asking for recommendations. Researching a holiday is more involved. It might involve stalking holiday pictures from Facebook friends, reviewing online magazine articles, checking Tripadvisor reviews and looking at the hotel website.

The point is that as consumers, we rely on the mass of sources online to make decisions. It’s Stephanie’s job to understand these sources and how well the business is performing at the ZMOT. So:

  • How frequently are people recommending her product over competitors?
  • How good are the scores on review sites in aggregate?
  • What are online influencers and news commentators saying about the market and so on.

She makes strategic recommendations to optimize and improve the organizations presence at the ZMOT for her target customers.

Here are some more thoughts on her role:

She worries about trust – a lot

Consumer truth is a big barometer in the world of ZMOT. We know that people trust what friends say above everything else. This has always been the case and always will be. With the advent of social media – people trust the views of other people (even if they don’t know them) over the views of brands and business. It is these trusted sources that people will turn to most. Crucially, Stephanie will need to ensure high levels of authenticity and transparency in all communications by her business. Anything less will result in a loss of trust.

She is concerned about what staff are doing as much as what customers are saying.

It’s not just what customers are doing and saying that matters. In the future, I think there will be even more emphasis either planned or otherwise on the role of staff as ambassadors for the brand. Just compare a company’s Linkedin profile with LinkedIn profile of an individual member of staff. I would suggest that the profile of the individual is more trusted and more authentic – it’s a real person talking to a network of people they actually know. It matters what staff do and say as they represent the brand

She has a big budget for big data

I imagine Stephanie office is wall-to-wall with screens,  visualizing real-time data from a variety of big data and social data sources. She is going to need to overlay trust, sentiment, truth and a bunch of other metrics with geographies, products, people, channels, topics etc. That’s going to need some smart people who understand the customer, data and technology to make it manageable. And a big budget for data!

Her boss is the CEO not the CMO

For me this raises a more fundamental question. Will the notion of marketing disappear? Will a business trying to ‘market’ itself to a consumer become obsolete? Rather than creating adverts and content plans, they will listen and learn from the customer. Rather than trying to sell to them, they will engage and collaborate with them. Perhaps the Chief ZMOT Officer will replace the Marketing Director altogether.

This is a just a bit of crystal ball gazing. I would love your thoughts on Stephanie’s role? What else might she have in her job description?



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