Fostering customer relationships is, unsurprisingly, a priority for today’s chief marketing officer. A new study by CMO Club reveals pain points in data management and a lack of custom integration.

CMO Club commissioned a study by Selligent Marketing Cloud that focused on consumer-first martech. A survey of 69 CMOs, including those from BBVA Compass, Office Depot and others, found that data providers and marketers aren’t always on the same page. The results of this study were published in a guide called “Consumer-First MarTech: Using Consumer Insights To Unify Marketing Technology Decisions.”

Relationship marketing was named either the most important or one of the most important team functions by 62 percent of CMOs. Personalization plays a vital role in this effort, and two-thirds say that speaking to customers in a more relevant way is a top automation goal for 2018.

In order to accomplish this, CMOs rely on their martech stack but cite frustration. For example, 42 percent said that customer data management is the most difficult element of the customer relationship marketing process.

Working with the “big five” marketing automation vendors doesn’t necessarily alleviate problems, either. In fact, 47 percent of users had issues with data compared to 25 percent of marketers using other vendors.

CMOs cite a lack of custom integrations as a major complaint regarding the “big five” vendors. Fifty-seven percent of marketers rated these vendors “below average” at custom integrations and just over half (54 percent) rated them “below average” at custom feature development.

For this reason, a trend has emerged among some of today’s leading marketers. They refuse to box themselves into one martech solution or simply decide to build their own. The CMO Club report offers three case studies in the report that show how companies CRM use differs.

Office Depot uses a hybrid approach to customer support that integrates legacy and new technologies to achieve the desired result.

“In our case, we combine best-of-breed technologies that are available across the marketplace, and we don’t tend to buy into any specific ecosystem because we feel it’s limiting and frankly, full of risk,” explained Office Depot chief retail officer Kevin Moffitt, who runs digital marketing in addition to ecommerce.

Luxury jewelry brand Tacori stopped using cloud service providers altogether and is building its own CRM in order to stay agile in a changing consumer environment.

“It lets us stay really nimble, it lets us stay within budget, it lets our team stay intelligent instead of having to outsource subject matter experts,” said Tacori SVP of marketing and PR Michelle Chila Adorjan. “And quite honestly, because technology changes, what happens right now is going to be very different from six months from now, and will be different 18 months from now. It lets us be a little disruptive as a smaller player.”

CMO Club’s report echoes sentiments expressed in a recent study by the Harvard Business Review (HBR). While 58 percent of respondents named CRM as one of the top three technology investments for their organizations, only 36 percent report significant returns.