At the CXPA’s Insights Exchange in May, the Professional Development Committee hosted numerous conversations about linking one’s CX program to organizational goals and objectives. We all agree—a CX program that can make a credible claim on business outcomes is one that should acquire and maintain executive attention and budget. That should be every business leader’s goal, and CX practitioners are not alone in failing to do this consistently. Project managers, technology leaders, marketers…no one is immune. So what exactly does this look like—linking customer experience to business outcomes? What will enhance your effectiveness as CX leader?
First Understand Your Company’s Key Goals and Metrics
Pretty basic, right? In my experience in CX consulting and in corporate CX, I’ve found it more likely than not—much more likely—that CX practitioners are not familiar with their company’s desired annual outcomes. The top outcomes don’t change much from company to company, though the focus at any given time may change. Most companies are looking to increase revenue and reduce expenses, and acquisition, growth and retention impact these two primary goals. Metrics such as win rate, renewal rate, share of wallet, net margin, gross margin and a customer loyalty index help an organization to determine financial health, among others.
Why don’t more CX professionals, then, ask to understand how their programs link to what drives the C-Suite? Outside of customer-related metrics like NPS, it seems that the other business outcomes are distant goals for others to think about. As a financial services CX leader, I was aware of high-level business goals but not asked to connect my programs to them. In many large corporations, CX programs just feel “too far away” from revenue drivers. We fall into the habit of hoping that customer insights and measures will be enough add color to the stories about why retention is down and acquisition costs are up, for example. We are often just not held accountable.
This is a trap. If you’re not being asked about the value your programs bring, figure out a way to demonstrate it and offer up the information. If you’re not being asked, it’s either because senior leadership does not think you can show that link, or because they don’t see the value of what you do. And that’s not a good place to be in terms of a CX professional’s career.
Second, Pick a Method and Run the Numbers
My colleague Mark Ratekin has developed a business impact linkage model that allows CX practitioners
- Peril and Possibility—looking at direct links to revenue in real time based upon post-survey results and key metrics to prompt account-level action. At a minimum, you should be pursuing this strategy and cataloging actions to build a repository of best practices.
- Proof—an analysis of behavior based upon stated intention, using time series data, to demonstrate that your leading indicators are credible metrics that align with future customer behavior.
- Payoff—customer retention predictive modeling. Will they stay with us and what are the projected long-term revenue implications?
- Profiling—stack-ranking looking at profitability, share and profiling variables
Granted, CX professionals don’t usually have math and statistics backgrounds, though today’s new data analysts in the CX space may. You will most likely need help from finance to find and use data sets that are meaningful to the corporation. But isn’t this the missing link? Finding a way to demonstrate the value of your program, even if not 100% comprehensive and fully integrated, is what brings you into the conversations at the top of the organization.
Make Linkage Your Business
Here are a few things you can do to sharpen your strategic contributions and pull out the corporate value from your program:
- Develop a near-term campaign to intervene with accounts at risk and to exploit opportunities that the data suggests may exist;
- Incorporate your CX metrics into account planning/account forecasting activities;
- Conduct a deep-dive into accounts that are highly successful to learn what is working well (and promote that within your organization).
Customer insights and subsequent improvements that result in customer loyalty and better business outcomes are the ultimate career achievement. It’s not about standing up a VoC program, tackling 25 customer CTQs, and nudging your NPS score up by 2%. These are projects, and if you manage a team, it’s your job to communicate the value of these activities to the whole. Most CX professionals have learned to tell their customers’ stories. The better you speak in the language of the business, the more valuable you’ll be as a key player in its success.