Model for Sustained Customer Experience ROI

By Lynn Hunsaker, CCXP posted 07-18-2020 12:53 PM


Cart Before the HorseProving strategic impact on your organization's success is a key to career mobility and customer experience maturity. A close look at the most prevalent customer experience practices reveals that we’re “putting the cart before the horse” with near-brute-force on business results (referrals, quick wins, churn turnaround, upsell) and forgoing the essential building blocks to sustainable customer experience ROI.

Truth About Customer Experience Goals

Most of us are pursuing retention, loyalty, service excellence and customer experience differentiation. 

Let's explore the nature of these goals:

  • Customer retention (duration of relationship) and loyalty (share of budget, recommendations) are outcomes that cannot magically occur through marketing campaigns or enticements, except with short-term spikes.

  • Service excellence could be much easier to achieve if routine confusion externally and internally is prevented, freeing up front-line employees to focus on value-add opportunities rather than remedial issues.

  • Customer experience differentiation could be more feasible if:

Why the Cart's Before the Horse

Career path biases of CX practitioners, pet projects of executives, ambitious purveyors of CX technologies, and eagerness to embrace shiny silver bullets are some of the perpetrators of the gold-rush strategy for customer experience business results. We need to step back and take a look at logical cause-and-effect of business and human behavior (externally and internally), with a holistic viewpoint, in order to get on the right track toward our goals for differentiation, excellence and financial rewards. We need a model for customer experience strategy: one that shows the natural flow of building blocks from point A (customer) to point Z (financials).

How to Sustain Customer Experience Business Results

Here are 6 truths:

  • First, revenue comes from customers. We are pretty good at “tuning our radar” to what turns on/off our boss who has power over our salary and career progress, so it makes sense to likewise tune our radar to our ultimate boss: customers. For sustained ROI, we need to make this information timely, relevant and actionable as criteria for every employee's decision-making. This is the Customer Voice building block for CX ROI.

  • Second, collation and interpretation of data picked up by our radar becomes valuable intelligence, and if we can quantify the value of our relationships, we’re equipped with the necessary knowledge and motivation to adjust our behavior to what’s needed for success with our boss. For sustained ROI, we need to use this quantification of the size of business at-risk or size of resources in-waste to compel action on customer voice. This is the Customer Intelligence & Customer Lifetime Value building block for CX ROI.

  • Third, dedication and creativity allow us to improve and innovate ourselves and our situation so that the boss sees us as indispensable to our collective success. For sustained ROI, we need to engage every group throughout our enterprise to own and continually improve their contribution to what customers experience (both internal and external customers). This is the CX Improvement & Innovation building block for CX ROI.

C5 + I2 + E2 = loyalty, retention and growth!

  • Fourth, keeping our boss’ well-being at the center of our decisions and actions gives us a secure backdrop for moving things forward on-the-fly and for being in the right place at the right time to make the most of the best opportunities. For sustained ROI, we need to weave customers' priorities into all of our business rituals (budgeting, performance reviews (individual, organizational, business), succession, recognition, development (career, product, etc.), and so forth). This is the Customer-Centricity building block for CX ROI.

  • Fifth, it certainly makes sense to center our teams accordingly: get everyone on the same page with regard to what makes the boss tick and how their work impacts the boss’ well-being and our collective success, and to engage everyone in proactively managing their work for the best outcomes. For sustained ROI, we need to nurture and report metrics on groups' involvement in keeping aware of and making a difference in customers' needs and realities. This is the Internal Engagement building block for CX ROI.

  • Sixth, with all these building-blocks in place, now you can feel at ease to toot your own horn. Let your stakeholders know about the great things you’re capable of providing, and make it compelling for them to help themselves through your capabilities. For sustained ROI, we need to ensure customer loyalty and retention programs, experiential marketing, and so forth have long-term mutual benefits. This is the External Engagement building block for CX ROI.

  • Seventh, (but certainly not last or least), as customers are your enterprise's boss (their revenue creates gains for investors and employees), corporate strategy uses customer intelligence and lifetime value as its north star. For sustained ROI, we need to characterize how we want customers to feel across their end-to-end journey and life cycle, as a vivid vision that's sacred in guiding who's on the Board, who's in leadership, who's hired and promoted, what's nurtured and rewarded, how resources are allocated and reviewed, and so forth. This is the Customer-Focused Corporate Strategy building block for CX ROI.

Important Note: It is through these CX ROI building blocks that sustainable retention and loyalty are achieved. Like so many laws of nature, one cannot short-circuit this process and expect lasting results. In fact, attempts to leapfrog any of the building blocks will likely lead to inefficient resource use and customer distrust, with sub-optimal profitability and short-term revenue growth, at best.

To put the horse in front of the cart so your customer experience efforts have a fighting chance of making a strategic impact and delivering ongoing business results, develop your CX strategy with the essential building blocks:

  1. Customer voice that informs strategies, processes and policies company-wide. Mine what you've got on-hand and stream it monthly, weekly or real-time to relevant groups.

  2. Customer intelligence and lifetime value that compels action to respect customers' investment and your investment in collecting customer voice and to stay ahead of ever-evolving expectations and competitor moves as the most magnetic brand in your industry.

  3. Customer experience improvement and innovation that resolves and prevents customers' hassles and generates new value toward customers' goals (both internally and externally).

  4. Customer-centricity roadmap that embeds customer-centered decision-making in every employee's way of life.

  5. Internal engagement that sharpens employees' and alliance/channel partners' and suppliers' understanding of customers' current and evolving realities and expectations, and compels them to continually improve customers' well-being.

  6. External engagement that strengthens relationships and value for all involved.

For your strategic planning, paint a vision and pathway to keep all 6 of these building blocks in-play, in tandem at the basic level, with annual stretch goals for increased maturity in tandem. This is how to achieve sustainable growth (ROI) through customer experience management.

What will it take to adopt this model in your organization?