They say that Customer Experience (CX) is the new competitive battleground – but, all too often, that battle must start inside the four walls of the company. Despite the fact that CX has been consistently proven to make a brand stand out from the competition and win the market, many CEOs are still reluctant to invest adequately in this critical function. Customer Experience and Operational leads are left to fight for a seat at the table and for a war chest to create a CX strategy that excels.
First, this can be down to a misunderstanding about what customer experience actually is. For many CEOs it simply means ‘customer support’ – CS agents handling queries and complaints from users. While some will intuitively understand the value of CS and some will not (more on that later), without a clear understanding of the differences between the two, the decision not to invest in it is an easier one.
Second, proving the returns of investment in customer experience is not always a straightforward task. For example, it’s not possible to establish a direct and unequivocal correlation between higher NPS and CSAT and higher revenue, since multiple factors impact your bottom line. Therefore, it’s not possible to look at one of them in isolation. Similarly, positive customer sentiment can be difficult to measure purely in dollar value. So, with an often-difficult financial case to make, CX and Ops leads can find themselves facing an uphill battle with sceptical decision-makers.
This is the exact situation that many Heads of CX and Operations are in when they first reach out to Voxpro. They understand the true value of investing properly in their company’s CX but are having difficulty securing full buy-in from the C-Suite. Our approach is to work closely with these managers and help them to build a case for investment that successfully brings the CEO on board. While every case is unique, there are some fundamental steps that apply to most.
Define the Customer Experience
Many CEOs believe it is all about Customer Support, but that is really only a part of the picture. CX takes in the experience that customers have with your brand during every single interaction along the entire ‘buyer’s journey’. Common touchpoints include first landing on your site and navigating through the content, interacting with your team members via phone or chat, making the purchase or sign-up, and being supported and educated post-purchase.
When a customer has an effortless, enjoyable and successful experience with your brand at every single touchpoint, they will choose you over the competition every time. True customer experience is not about fixing things when they break, it’s about making customers feel supported, educated and valued after they bring your product or service into their lives. In our experience, once the entire C-Suite fully understands this, your case for investment has truly begun.
Show how CX strategy can break down silos
Once it is understood that customer experience underpins everything that a company does, it becomes clear that every department must play a role in its delivery. For example, Marketing must introduce people to the company and move them through the funnel; Sales must seamlessly take the reins and move them to conversion; IT is tasked with providing them with a delightful user experience and gathering the data needed to improve it; HR and Operations supply the people and processes that underpin the entire flow, and so on. A seamless and successful customer experience cannot be achieved when all departments are working in silos – a unified, cross-departmental strategy is key.
In this way, the CEO can see that investment in the customer experience also leads to an improvement in the employee experience and the overall company culture. It also means that CX does not have to be an entirely new and additional budget – if every department has a stake, then existing departmental budgets can contribute to it.
“Show Data and Talk Data”
This is the advice of Alon Mor, VP of Customer Solutions at Wix.com. Speaking on the Voxpro Studio podcast series, Mor describes how having the right CX strategy undoubtedly adds to the revenue of the company, the key is to use the right tools to collect the data to back this up.
Using a tool developed in-house called Wix Answers, Mor can monitor the entire flow of users, how they engage with the product and whenever they are trying to engage with support.
“That information is basically gold. I can now talk to whoever it is – if it’s our CEO or Head of Product – about the problems we have in the system, about conversion rates, about the common questions. It provides clear statistics, clear screens with all the information that you need. With one click, you share it with whomever you want, and you can get things moving.”
Business Intelligence tools such as Wix Answers allow CX Leads to build a case for investment based, not on their hunches or beliefs, but rather on facts about user behaviour. If, for example, users are dropping off at a certain point in the funnel and/or at a certain time after conversion, it is clear that improving experience at that specific point in the journey is required. By doing that, you extend customer loyalty, increase sales, and ultimately improve revenue performance.
Prove the cost of inaction
If your boss still can’t get past the additional cost of investing in CX, it’s time to show them the price of not investing. John Moses, Director of Operations for Google Health calls this “the cost of non-support”. Moses acknowledges the tremendous cost-management pressures that can force many companies to “cut corners to make the quarter”, but he warns of the inevitable consequences.
“This ‘cost of non-support’ happens when you didn’t help the customer, the customer didn’t get their problems solved, they probably returned the product, and they probably told ten people about the bad experience they had. That’s where you have lost the dollar while saving the ten cents and I just think it’s short-sighted and it’s a shame.”
The point is that failure to invest in customer experience is a false economy. A simple table can quickly demonstrate how initial investment can generate long-term savings.
What cannot be shown on a table like this is arguably the most important factor of all: Customer Lifetime Value. Those that have a consistently high-quality, effortless experience with your brand will not leave you for a competitor, and the ROI of that alone is significant. Recent figures show that the avoidable loss of customers is costing US businesses $136 billion a year. When you add to this the cost of acquiring a new customer versus retaining an existing one – believed to be up to 5x – it is clear that keeping customers happy is clever business.
Moreover, according to Gartner, a loyal customer base delivers further returns to the company in the form of improved up- and cross-sell, lower churn, greater positive share of voice, increased referral volume, and improved inbound traffic. Looked at in this light, investment in CX is difficult to argue against.
In our experience, a clear, data-based approach like this used to build a case for investment yields strong results. It allows CEOs to understand the issue, see how it impacts the bottom line, and be aware of the cost of inaction. Through our partnerships with some of the world’s most successful tech companies one thing has become very clear: beautiful customer experience and commercial success go hand-in-hand. And it is the CEOs with the insight and foresight to invest in CX that have the edge on the new competitive battleground.
Want us to help your company understand the true value of investing properly in CX? Get in touch today. If you enjoyed this post you might also be interested in learning how to design a change management strategy that delivers.
Daniela is Site Lead for Voxpro’s Dublin Centre of Excellence