How CX is like HR


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I’ll often describe CX in terms of an analogy to other operations within your company.  If it’s to make an impact, it should have a charter that includes responsibility for and the moving parts needed to drive changes.  Otherwise, there’s no point in having a CX department in the first place.

The conversation usually comes as a side note to the dreaded ROI of CX discussion.  Let me pull on that thread (picking on HR this time around, but it’s probably applicable for other examples as well).

My argument goes, that HR doesn’t have to defend its own existence.  Sure, it has a budget (sorry, we can’t afford to send the whole team to that career fair in the Bahamas!), but it’s never faced with the existential question of, Why should we “do HR?”

But I think it goes even further than that, and there’s a good demonstration of it.  Surely we all know that it’s a good business practice, and good for business outcomes, to find, recruit, hire, compensate, develop, support, incentivize, and retain good talent.  People is everything, a lot of business gurus will tell us.  Ok sure.  But is there any sort of correlation analysis for that?  Have there been white papers and think pieces that show that a company’s HR budget (to turn it into cold, hard numbers) is directly tied to its profitability?

Granted, I imagine that salespeople are beholden to their performance in direct relation to their impact on the bottom line.  But someone, for example, who works on the production line, or as a project manager somewhere, or in the finance department…was his or her hiring (and all the ‘care and feeding’ involved in retaining the position) tied directly to sales figures or market share?

Better yet, and more to the point:  Consider the HR resources themselves that are involved…your compensation specialists, your recruiters, all the folks in your L&D organization, performance monitoring, and compliance experts…ever ask any of them to prove their impact on the bottom line?  Of course not.  Ask your head of HR about all the moving parts that it takes to do all the incredibly important things that go on in that department and you’ll see an incredible investment.  And again, yes, it’s not an endless budget.  But I’ll repeat:  Nobody ever asks, “Why are we doing this in the first place?  What’s the ROI?”

Next time someone insists to know what the ROI of CX is, ask them to identify whether a certain training initiative (oh, let’s go ahead and even pick on something unsexy like compliance training) had a payoff.  And no, I don’t mean avoiding a fine…that’s not income, and playing defense won’t win the game for you.  Or ask if a specific hire (say, in the finance or supply chain departments) is directly responsible for certain sales or hitting a revenue target.  Is the culture program responsible for an increase in market share?  You see we could go on…

Now, this isn’t to pick on HR, because I really do agree with what I wrote above about how important it is to a well-functioning organization to have and do HR.  And I feel the same way about supply chain, finance, operations, and any number of other functions.  What I’m saying is that a well-ordered and well-functioning company has a lot of overhead that cannot be directly tied to revenue and sales figures.  CX is one of them and we as CX advocates do ourselves a disservice (by painting ourselves into a corner) when we don’t push back on the insistence that we hit the bottom line (top line, really, the way we talk about it) in order to be worth doing.

So can we have a bit more faith in our own contribution and stop playing that game?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Nicholas Zeisler, CCXP, LSSBB
I’m a Customer Experience executive, certified Process Improvement professional, Agile Scrum Master, dynamic educator, change management strategist, and in-demand business and leadership coach. I've worked from the inside and from the outside; in organizations large and small; public sector and private; from oil and gas to technology to non-profit (with lots in between too). I've seen a lot, but I haven't seen it all.


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