By Danyel LaGow, CCXP
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It is hard to argue that a good customer experience is impactful. Companies of all shapes and sizes are choosing to laser focus on the customer as the center of brand and service strategies, and with good reason— report[1] after report[2] cites the fact that happy customers are more profitable; they stick around, spend more, share, and buy again. And, yet, one of CX’s most persistent challenges is selling its value into an organization. Money talks, if you will.

For many CX champions, validating the monetary value is a stumbling block that feels hard to overcome. Customer experience initiatives can be expansive efforts and, for some organizations, transformative. If you’re a company that needs a big overhaul, it’s going to take the whole village to get behind it. So how do you move the needle when you can’t get past the first hurdle?

Do not quit. If CX is important to your organization (and it should be), charge on. It’s hard because the selling effort is multi-pronged. For instance, if you approach it with just metrics, you miss the importance of culture and employee engagement. These efforts can mean coordinating lots of people, data, and time. But don’t be daunted; it’s not the behemoth it appears to be. You can push this rock up the hill at your organization; you just need to be armed with the right tools.

To sell CX, you must stand confidently in what matters and be comprehensive in your appeal. Prepare yourself with these three approaches that may very well change your game.

1. BE AN EQUAL-OPPORTUNITY SALESPERSON

In many organizations, selling CX goes all the way up to the highest levels of leadership. Yet, that is not always true. Often, CX needs to be sold to a number of stakeholders across the organization, all with very different roles and bottom lines. The messages they receive should be spun in their language, with consideration for the things that matter to them.

For instance, when you tackle your own CX plan, consider each point from various perspectives: what efficiencies might be gained (operations), what cross-collaboration opportunities are there (executive leadership and HR), share of wallet opportunities (finance), and customer satisfaction (CARE).

Sitting with a client recently to develop a strong plan for their CX program, it became clear she was really concerned about being able to gain approval from the executive team. It was a clear source of stress for her. I advised her to prepare by dissecting her plan into what it meant for each of the groups to whom she was selling; to walk in prepared with the value for each group. We created a CX charter that proved the value of CX from those different perspectives and highlighted actionable ways to make it happen.

Along with spinning the plan in different languages, it is also important to show your stakeholders that when different functions of an organization come together and center around the customer from the same place, it fosters cross-collaboration and creates truly connected customer experiences. Read more about the influence of journey mapping here.

2. START SMALL, ENGAGE CROSS-FUNCTIONAL TEAMS

This statement is probably one of my biggest points of encouragement; I stress it in every conversation with a rising customer experience professional, in every presentation and article, and in virtually every conversation with a prospective client: CX efforts do NOT need to be all or nothing, but they do need to involve everyone.

Great impact can be made to your CX by starting small. Every win makes the next pitch easier and easier. While you are designing your CX program and getting buy-in from other leaders, you can also initiate a quick-win CX effort that gains attention, excitement, and respect from members across the organization. A recent client engagement perfectly demonstrates this approach.

This client knew CX could be a game changer in their industry, but needed a focused place to start. We began by assembling cross-functional teams and leaders to map the end-to-end customer journey in a series of workshops. The intention was to use the completed journey map to gather real-world information that would spark conversations and gain buy-in for a CX program. By identifying customer pain points on the journey map, we exposed several critical areas in the onboarding process, specifically. Rather than assigning these pain points to individual teams and chipping away at them one by one, we instead embraced this as an opportunity. The client created a cross-functional project team that looked both upstream and downstream of the impact, to stand up a new “welcome experience” for customers. Not only were they able to improve this area, they created an important connection between cross-functional teams. With this success under their belt, they have demonstrated value; and with teams working well together, there was genuine buzz around engaging in this kind of work across the organization.

3. GATHER THE RIGHT DATA; USE THE RIGHT METRICS

To sell CX to your leadership team, you need to gather data from the customer perspective— know what your customers are telling you, what their needs are/how they want to do business with you, and how the organization is currently performing. This level of detail will get you a seat at the table. Remember, money talks.

What is most important in this approach is determining the metrics that are relevant to you, and your customers’ experiences with your organization. There are several common metrics out there for measuring customer experience, such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), among others. While a lot of weight has been put on NPS over the years, it is losing its currency in CX— because there is truly no universal metric for all organizations to hold themselves to. There is a laundry list of things you can be looking at, including loyalty and retention, level of effort, profitability, average order size, churn, customer defection, calls to care, customer feedback, and more.

To successfully sell CX internally, it is important to look beyond a single metric, and arm yourself with data that tells you how the customer is experiencing your brand (and wants to experience your brand) in a holistic way. Don’t settle for focusing on what the customer is telling you after the fact (customer satisfaction, NPS), dig into your customer data to understand what your customers are doing and how they want to do business with you.

For example, a client had been tracking their NPS score for just over a year as their main CX metric. A lot of attention surrounded updates on how the NPS score was tracking over time, but it was really hard for the leadership team to have a meaningful discussion on the true state of the customer experience. As the NPS score increased, which parts of the customer experience were improving and where were the gaps that still needed to be filled? We helped show the CX leader how to bring the customer experience to life internally by creating an easy to consume dashboard that told the story of the customer experience. Along with NPS, it included a few other key metrics that shared the CX health factor, and meant something to different leaders across the organization. We also mapped “customer drivers” (what motivates the customer to do business with your brand) across the customer journey.

Proving the value of CX is about your approach— understanding your internal audience, knowing the customer data that will drive your decisions, and setting yourself up for success by starting with manageable, informative projects that rally employees around your cause. Armed with these approaches, the case for ROI becomes much more clear; the money won’t just talk, it will sing.

[1] Forrester: “Predictions 2018, A Year of Reckoning”
[2] Harvard Business Review: “Lessons from the Leading Edge of Customer Experience Management”

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