Improving CX: UP and IN

By Nicholas Zeisler,CCXP posted 07-13-2020 12:08 PM

  

It’s not always easy to get through the din of corporate metrics.  But as a CX professional, it’s our responsibility not only to take them seriously ourselves, but to drive awareness and interest in them within our organizations.  With financial and operational KPIs front-and-center, Chief Customer Officers and their teams have a unique challenge to make the measures of CX relevant within a company.  It’s actually just an example of the work we need to do to ensure our peers and organizations take Customer Experience seriously and not treat it as just another ‘feel-good’ thing that’s going on in the background while other people and functions “do the actual work” to make the money and dominate the market.

Gaining buy-in for CX metrics (whether it be NPS, C-SAT, Customer Effort Score, or whatever the next thing around the corner becomes) really requires a two-front approach:  Up, and in.

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The “up” part of appeal is associated with aligning the CX metrics you’re using to the overall KPIs your company already values.  Many CX professionals are under the mistaken impression that people who aren’t in CX should (or in the most severe cases of self-delusion, will) simply recognize the value and applicability of our standard metrics.  Well, the harsh truth is that nobody cares as much as you do (if even at all) about your CX metrics.  And if you’re not doing the work and making the case for their value, it’s not their fault.  We all understand that having a high NPS or C-SAT score is good, and even those in other professions or in different parts of your organization can notionally also agree that more Customers expressing positive feelings about your brand is better than fewer.  Acknowledging that is one thing; investing in improving those numbers is another.  And ultimately, your job isn’t simply to report those numbers; it’s to improve them.  So in order to gain support for such investments, it’s imperative to articulate why (and how) efforts to improve your CX metrics will pay off in ways more material than simply seeing your numbers improve.  That’s why you need to lay the groundwork for consensus in the importance of your metrics first. 

What’s nice is that doing this also is a clarifying exercise for you as the CX leader:  How correlated are your CX metrics with the overall KPIs within your organization?  By the way, here’s a tip:  If you run the numbers and the answer to that question is, “not that much,” then guess what?  You have the wrong CX metrics.  I’ve known a lot of CX professionals who are so wedded to whichever metric they think is best (do you know any NPS zealots who won’t even consider another metric?), they’ll fall on that sword even if it’s not a representative value.  Conversely, I was even a purposeful contrarian for a long time myself:  I used to rail against whatever the popular metric in CX circles was because I was so frustrated by people looking only at the number rather than the underlying root causes of issues.  The more I looked into it, the less obstinate I became regarding particular CX metrics.  That’s because I learned that each situation is different, each company is different, and each Customer profile wants different things.  The key isn’t to find that one magic CX metric that will rule them all in every circumstance.  (Believe me, if that were the case, I’d have written that book and retired by now!)  The real key to CX metrics is to identify the one (or a couple) that are most highly correlated with your already-existing corporate KPIs.  That correlation test is great for two reasons:  it helps you as the CX lead shed your own biases about which metric to use; and it also affords itself instant and undeniable credibility, thus saving you the time of making the argument for it.  If you can demonstrate that, when this specific metric goes up, the KPI most important to everybody (be it revenues, sales, share of wallet, etc.) also goes up at a reliable and predictable rate, suddenly you have everybody’s attention.  That’s because things like revenues, sales, share of wallet, etc., are not easy metrics to move on their own.  But if you show that, for example, when NPS goes up one point, revenues go up by $X,000, you’ve now got a quantitative motivation to move NPS that one point (or several!).  Of course, moving NPS (or C-SAT, or CES, etc.) is only a little less trivial than moving revenues, but that’s where you start on the “in” part of buy-in.

If the CEO of your company announced today that, “we need to increase revenues 10% this year over last year,” you could easily calculate how that would look and how much more money that’d mean to the bottom-line.  What you wouldn’t be able to do necessarily is understand just what you could do to help make that happen in your capacity…and that also goes for folks on the front-line of your organization who make things happen every day.  From their perspective it’s even harder to know what steps they can take to help improve that top-level KPI.  That’s what’s so great about a well-correlated CX metric.  If I’m a contact-center agent, for example, I may not know how to bring in more revenues, but I have a much better idea how to better satisfy and delight Customers…that’s what I do all day long!  And with a little math, I can also determine where my score needs to go to contribute overall to a collective goal of moving the organization’s CX metric.  Now, it’s more complicated than that (there’s no universal key to moving your own NPS numbers, for example, from x to y), but moving goals closer to the work is a good thing when it comes to individual contributions to overall targets.  That’s where your other job as a CX leader comes in:  Continually driving visibility into that ‘chain reaction’ of individual efforts and actions up to the overall CX score. 

What can I, as an individual contributor do differently in my work to drive higher numbers for my own CX metrics that, collectively with the rest of my team will drive our overall corporate CX score?  Driving the CX metrics “in” to your teams and showing them how their individual choices and work drives the CX number empowers and energizes them by tying their work into the overall improvement of the organization.  When I know that what I’m doing is positively impacting the experiences of our Customers (and I can see that reflected in the movement of the CX metrics), I know I’m having a direct impact in how our Customers view us as a brand.  Of course you need to investigate what operational metrics are most highly correlated to that CX metric, and how individual efforts can change those metrics…but you can see how you’re getting closer and closer at each step to the actions of individual team members (what they do), and therefore encouraging practices that move things in the right direction.

And when that “in” view is tied “up” to the overall corporate KPIs, team members also see how they’re positively impacting the bottom-line and contributing to the overall health of the company.

It’s bringing these two perspectives together that’s fundamental to success as a CX leader:  You encourage buy-in “up” among your leadership peers (and thus get everybody on board contributing to improving your overall CX), and you give everybody actionable and positive guidance on what they each can do “in” to make an impact.

(Originally Published 20200713)

- LtCol Nicholas Zeisler, CCXP, LSSBB, CSM
- Principal, Zeisler Consulting



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