What's More Important Than the ROI of CX?

By Mark Slatin, CCXP posted 01-31-2024 07:46 AM


If you are a CX practitioner, you have heard a constant drumbeat of the importance of proving the return on investment (ROI) of CX.  

Rightly so, too many CX practitioners fail to speak the language of the C-Suite; translating your CX efforts from CX metrics into financial metrics like revenue growth, a reduction in costs, or a mitigation of risk.  Making the business case, in the language of the C-Suite is critical to success.  But it's not the most important factor.

Trust is.

Specifically, your trustworthiness.

Part of the reason trust MUST precede data has to do with how people make decisions. 

Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman says in his book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, that “95 percent of our purchase decision-making takes place in the subconscious mind.”

That means that if the key stakeholders you need to support your initiatives don’t trust you, your work will hit a wall.

For a CX leader, we’re really talking about how trustworthy you are from the perspective of those you hope to influence.  

So what makes someone trustworthy?

According to trust expert and author of The Trusted Advisor, Charles H. Green, trustworthiness can be expressed as a mathematical formula which he describes as The Trust Equation. 

Let’s me share the Cliff Notes version of the four variables:

CREDIBILITY - this largely relates to words.  Yes, it includes the accuracy of the information you share, your credentials, but also the confidence you present.

RELIABILITY - this reflects your predictability and dependability - do you follow through?  And do you do so in a way that shows me you’ve listened?

INTIMACY - this has to do with psychological safety. Do I feel safe to share things that might require a level of vulnerability?  Have you created a safe haven for sensitive conversations?

SELF ORIENTATION - this is a matter of focus - do you have an “other” orientation or do I perceive that your interest is self-serving?  The proverbial used-car salesman comes to mind but self orientation often includes anything that prevents you from being fully present.

This is barely scratching the surface of a topic that has an equal measure of simplicity and complexity.  None of this is rocket science, it’s just hard to do!

But there is one thing more important than the ROI of CX…and that’s trust. 

Especially if you are perceived as someone who...

  • doesn’t understand the business (perhaps because you didn’t get your experience in the business)

  • doesn’t follow through or is unpredictable (meaning others aren’t clear of your goals or path to get there)

  • can’t empathize with sensitive information or isn’t considered a vault for confidentiality, or... 

  • has your self-interests ahead of theirs

If that's their perception, then trustworthiness will suffer.

When trust is low, even the most “no brainer” ROI models will get rejected.

That's particularly troublesome because they won’t tell you that’s why they aren’t giving you their support.

This could have you spinning your wheels for weeks, months or even years. 

Earning trust is the first of the four keys to leading CX change.

 The others three keys are:

  • Becoming a Guide

  • Building a Roadmap

  • Proving the Value 

I’ll be sharing more about the other three keys right here.  Stay tuned!

If you’re interested in taking your CX leadership to go beyond CX fundamentals, see the special offer for The Trusted Guide Roadmap™ Master Class which begins on February 27.  There's a special offer for CXPA Registrants here 


Mark Slatin, CCXP is the CEO of EmpoweredCX,  Professor of Practice in the Masters of Science of CXM at Michigan State University, former CXPA Board Member, Creator of The Trusted Guide Roadmap™ Master Class, and host of The Delighted Customers Podcast.