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Two Key Themes from CXPA Insight Exchange 2018 (and what you can do with them)

Danyel LaGow & Sandra Mathis

The theme of this year’s CXPA Insight Exchange was “CX Business Value: Identify, Measure, and Grow.” This theme was perfectly timed. While many businesses are recognizing the importance of CX, we are seeing increasing pressure to demonstrate value. For many CX professionals, this can be pretty intimating, but it doesn’t have to be. We frequently talk about the importance of starting small with CX, to manage the process and gain influence in your organization. The same can be said for how you demonstrate value.

We keyed in on two sub-themes at the conference that spoke specifically to demonstrating value in distinct, achievable ways. Keep reading to see how we break these down based on conversations and talks from the conference, and our own advice on how to start small.

1. CX HAS VALUE TO THE REST OF THE ORGANIZATION

We often talk about the “silo-busting” power of Customer Experience. It is also something we heard loud and clear at the conference. By inviting cross-functional teams to work together, you break down the walls that separate their day-to-day work and invite everyone to think the same way — through the lens of the customer. A few additional insights on this thread we picked up from the conference, and our own two cents:

  • CX is good for the organization and its culture. CX serves as the preverbal “first line of defense.” It provides actionable intel about customers, employees, and processes— all three woven together are what create value.
  • Employees are customers too. The customer journey is easily the most widely accepted tool in CX. But be sure not to overlook the employee journey— keep in mind, they are customers too. What are the areas of dissatisfaction for employees that need to be addressed?
  • Understand the diversity of your customers. While all customers should fundamentally receive the same experience, it is still essential to know how your customers differ based on their “stickiness” — a segmentation of sorts. Do they have just one product or service, two, three, or several? What does the amount of product and service stickiness mean to your bottom-line and the revenue generated?
  • Service happens… always. According to Graham Tutton of Comcast, “Service happens when the experience breaks.” We get the sentiment: it is when something isn’t working that problems are exposed. But true customer experience goes beyond the broken stuff. Experience is where relationships are forged, no matter where and why the interaction is taking place. We like to think of it as a continuous exchange. It is in those moments of exchange that up-leveled experience can occur.

HOW TO START SMALL: Bring the customer into the room— leadership should spend time talking with both customers and employees. Cross-functional teams can also give voice to the customer routinely by calling on their customer personas. Instead of using “customer,” talk about “John,” or whomever the customer persona represents. (We’ve even put personas on t-shirts, and stuffed them over a chair in meetings.)

2. THERE ARE WAYS TO QUANTIFY CX VALUE

Demonstrating CX value is a hot topic right now. We have heard from many CX practitioners both in and outside of this conference about their struggles to validate and quantify their CX efforts. While it’s no easy task, it can be done. And the effort is worth it.

  • Start with what you have. Begin with the quantitative and qualitative data you already have. If you don’t have financial data or revenue by customer, then some metrics will simply not be possible to determine. Be bold and put some rigor around understanding the customer sentiment. It is more than an open-ended comment; it is the key to providing insight into the “why” behind the metrics, especially if you are using customer sentiment to understand either value or ROI. 
  • Single metrics, measured consistently, can work. Sometimes a metric tracked over time is enough to do the trick when you don’t have all the pieces. A simple correlation of a metric and a revenue number (that the C-Suite cares about) can be powerful enough to show value. Those metrics may already be something you are collecting— NPSâ and eNPS, Customer Effort Score (CES), CSAT or performance measure — can all work, *if* you are measuring it consistently.
  • Remember, it’s not all about metrics. Not all CX value in an organization comes in the form of metrics. Culture also plays a huge role in providing and demonstrating value— it is the foundation for what is delivered to customers. Culture is what sets an organization’s tone and gives employees a rallying point for how they should behave. For CX, pinning it to culture is what will help employees deliver on the CX promise.
  • Nor is it all about the numbers. It is simply not enough to have a numerically based metric as your measure of CX value. Your organization must consider a spectrum of measures; some soft, some hard, that collectively demonstrate what is valuable within your organization (CX measures are not “one size fits all”). We actually wrote about this right before the conference with “But Where’s the ROI?,” check it out.

HOW TO START SMALL: Inventory your collection points for VoC and VoE across the organization (don’t forget about social media). Leverage the free-form/qualitative types of feedback to determine what your customers saying about you and how it meshes with you’re the way your organization thinks about the experience it delivers to customers. If you’re collecting sentiment or open-ended feedback, use it to help tell the story. And, if you need a quick-hit ROI or Value Proxy, take a key metric or KPI you have been measuring for a more than a year (such as your NPS or CSAT) and stack it against revenue to demonstrate positive or negative change over time.

We left the conference inspired, as we always do. It is downright invigorating to be around other passionate CX professionals, particularly as we move steadily toward more pervasive use and expectation around customer experience. In fact, many of our roles are evolving. As Graham Tutton from Comcast said, “CX Professionals need to move from influencers to owners of CX.” Like moving from a renter to a homeowner, you’re now in charge. It is about your ability to control what happens and how CX is implemented.

Just remember, you can (and should) start small. This is, as they say, a marathon not a sprint. We’re in it for the long haul. When it gets sticky, reach out to your fellow CX professionals across industries; we are a community of people striving for excellence. We are in this together.

Danyel LaGow is Strong-Bridge Envision’s Customer Excellence practice director and director of corporate marketing. CX Director Sandra Mathis is based in the Atlanta office. They are both active industry contributors on the topic of customer experience— read more of Danyel and Sandra’s articles by clicking on their names.