Customer Experience is a Sales Job. And We’re Doing it Badly.


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A friend of mine is in her first year leading her company’s customer experience. A few weeks ago she told me, “I never realized how much selling is involved with this job!” I met another CX leader yesterday, who said much the same thing: “I always need to have my elevator speech ready, to explain to people why they should care about customer experience.”

It’s unfortunate but true: most leaders don’t naturally think about customer experience, and we need to be evangelists for the cause. But recent research from Teletech suggests that we’re not really helping ourselves to sell the mission.

Before we get to the research, let’s look at the nature of selling. In Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human, he argues that the first requirement of selling is Attunement, or the ability to take another person’s perspective. Almost any sales book will agree – you need to start from your audience’s viewpoint.

So in order to effectively sell customer experience in your organization, you need to start with your internal customer’s perspective. And what do they care about? It varies, but revenue and costs are good places to start.

Obvious? You’d think so. But let’s look at the research. What are we focused on? According to Teletech, the plurality of us – 42% – are focused on improving “customer experience and satisfaction scores.”

That’s our big mistake.

Does your leadership actually care about customer experience scores? I once led a customer experience program for a Fortune 25 organization, and our VP of Sales announced, “Scores are worthless. You can’t deposit scores in the bank.” While he was blunt, his viewpoint matched many of his counterparts.

If you want to have impact, your focus needs to be on generating revenue, acquiring new customers, or becoming cost efficient. That’s what your internal customers care about.

So it’s no wonder that only 22% of CX leaders reported showing “lots of progress.” If you truly want to sell your customer experience program, you need to skip the scores and tie your work right to the bottom line. That’s where your finance team becomes your best friend.

We all inherently believe that the business is better when your customer experience improves. That’s why we love this practice. And there are multiple articles that show the stock price reward for improved customer experience.

But your organization is unique. You need to show the financial return for your particular customer experience program. Your finance team can help.

An engaging Customer Experience improves referrals, reduces customer churn, and can even lower costs through improved self-service. After the conversation with the Sales VP, I had our Analytics team compare satisfaction (our CX measurement) with account holder financials. We found that satisfied account holders had higher balances, renewed more frequently, and cost less to service than dissatisfied account holders. This made it much easier to have future conversations on customer experience impact – I could show the bottom line value of improving satisfaction.

In a different venue, Best Buy did similar work in employee engagement. Working with Gallup, their finance team found that a 0.1 improvement in employee engagement led to a $100,000 increase in profitability per store. This metric justified their spending on employee engagement for years. Employee engagement stopped being a feel-good program, but was instead seen as a great way to improve profitability. You can do the same with your customer experience program.

We do this work with our clients. Once we determine your customer experience metrics – whether satisfaction, NPS, loyalty, or something else – we analyze the financial impacts of improving this score. Once we’re done, we can show not only what metric has the greatest impact on revenue, retention and/or costs, but also discover the most effective ways to make that improvement.

How about you? Can you tie your results right to the bottom line? If so, use that language when you sell your program to your internal customers – they will be far more responsive.

If not, you need to start. Engage your vendor or your finance or analytics team in the process. Discover the financial impact to customer experience. This will make your job of selling customer experience much easier.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Tincher
Jim sees the world in a special way: through the eyes of customers. This lifelong passion for CX, and a thirst for knowledge, led him to found his customer experience consulting firm, Heart of the Customer (HoC). HoC sets the bar for best practices and are emulated throughout the industry. He is the author of Do B2B Better and co-author of How Hard Is It to Be Your Customer?, and he also writes Heart of the Customer’s popular CX blog.


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