CX Skills Builder: How to articulate your CX Value and secure your budget
Two weeks ago we urged you to find CX problems and fix them instead of diagnosing and mapping them. That is the right strategy when you are building buy in with the operation and when you are acting as a customer experience evangelist in your organization. It is necessary so you can have the right content for your business case and funding requests.
To fix more impactful, systemic customer experience inefficiencies you need real money and executive buy in. To obtain that, you must articulate your value to your senior leadership. Often, this is where all CX efforts stop. That is a shame because, if you have a seat at that table, that means your executives WANT to give you the money. They just need you to seal the deal, to walk them through the value prop for their shareholders.
But you fail at articulating your value. Why?
You cannot articulate something you don’t know. The first roadblock for CX professionals is not going into the details enough. When faced with good questions from executives you are unable to answer them and unable to fight for that critical buy in.
To sell better customer experience, first clearly communicate how bad the current experience is and what the business impact of the bad experience is. Note that the harm to the business needs to be significant enough for your leaders to CARE. The level of negative impact must correspond to the level of investment you are requesting. For example, if you ask for funding to fix the recovery experience for your customers, but that only impacts 1% of your total customers, you may have to find a cheaper way to do what you want. In essence, all you are arguing is that you MAY increase the retention of SOME of the people in this 1%.
On the other hand, you could take the next steps and chase your company’s operational and reputation risks. You can claim that, if the problem is not fixed and the company grows, experience disruptions will go on for much longer and will cost the company more and put your reputation at greater risk. With this approach, you have a shot at getting real money from executives for CX.
To succeed, think broadly.
Contrary to popular belief among CX professionals, you don’t only need to know the details of the business impact of your customer experience program. You also need to know HOW you will spend the money. The details of the spend. When some CX leaders are asked how they will actually build the solutions they are seeking to fund, they answer “that is for IT to answer” or “most of it is IT.” These vague responses do not instill the confidence that you are knowledgeable enough to control the dollar spent once it is given to you.
As CX professionals, we all need to become more familiar and comfortable with the IT language and the IT world. Whether you like it or no, we are all becoming IT specialists too (just like IT professionals have a CX role). That does not mean you need to learn coding. It does mean you need to understand what data storage is and how much it costs, where IT Security sits and when you need them to approve your project, or how to look at and approve wireframes.
Last, but not least, a successful CX leader has control over the financial projections and management spend. Ideally, your finance group will be diligent and track your spend in real time. In reality, that rarely happens. You are the one who benefits from knowing where your money is going and if the rate of spend is matching the rate of product delivery. If you are told that 60% of your capital funding is spend and you are “on track” the first question to ask is have you build 60% of the deliverables? Are all the big ticket items allocated evenly, or is there a big bill that will come at the last minute and push you over budget?
If you don’t ask those questions, no one will. Even worse, your senior leaders will ask you and you will not know the answers. In general, you gain more credibility with your executives if you present comprehensive monthly financial reports, than if you are silent for the duration of your CX project and as surprised as your leaders are by the financial health of your portfolio at project end.
Use your CX skills to lead
This is the last piece of our CX Skills Builders series. The theme in throughout is to take action and to own your work. Too many people work hard and waste energy on the wrong things. Focus on results, acknowledge true Customer Experience roles, and think about what your company’s investment is fixing (or not) through the lens of your customer. If you follow these simple steps you will be a successful CX professional who can lead the way for the future.
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