Getting Decision-Makers to approve new customer experience initiatives has rarely been easy.
Customer experience, a business discipline late to the business doctrine party, has often been told to sit at the kids’ table and be quiet while the adults chat.
The Covid era means some leaders are even more resistant to the idea of investing in customer experience, which they may see as nebulous or a “nice-to-have” rather than a “must-have.” Of course, you know and I know those leaders who are prepared to be nimble and adapt their experiences in this time of disruption will be the ones who end up ahead of the rest.
Today’s customer experience is not necessarily available to customers the way it was designed.
- Stores are closed
- Teams are working remotely
- Supply chains are disrupted.
Your customers will need more help as they navigate these breakdowns. Investing in ways to prevent at least some of these service issues will save money AND save credibility.
Getting your executive team or other decision-makers on board with customer experience right now has some unique challenges. Do these objections sound familiar?
- Our teams are already too busy to add more to their plate
- We don’t have the money to invest in customer experience
- The benefits of customer experience initiatives are too hard to quantify
- We need to focus on sales, not customer experience
What if the decision-makers in your organization understood that these are all reasons supporting new CX initiatives?
The Communication Trifecta: Logic, Emotion, and Symbolism
We communicate most effectively when we present logic, emotion, and symbolism. Our brains love that trio, which means your leader’s brain does, too. Telling the right story about customer experience means blending fact, storytelling and a vision for the future.
With this in mind, let’s look at how we can present an argument for CX done well.
Common Objections to Customer Experience Initiatives, and How to Overcome Them
The Objection: Our Teams are Already Too Busy for CX
The Reality: Customer Experience Done Well Saves Our Teams Time
Many organizations today face increasing demand for customer service and support. Disruption has led to longer hold times, endless customer queues, and longer call times.
Proactive, thoughtful customer experience can prevent and abate some of the extra burden placed on employees. CX initiatives around specific service moments in the customer journey can lead to a reduction in inbound service contacts quite directly.
When we guide our customers through the customer journey, they can move through it comfortably and confidently. When we don’t, we’ll find that they’re reaching out when they need help, needing our teams’ time and attention to get them back on track. It is always easier and more efficient to keep a customer moving forward along their journey then to help them get back on it when they’ve gone off-track.
“But,” the decision-makers in your organization may ask, “doesn’t proactive guidance cost our employees time too?”
It’s a good question. And a good answer is that no, it doesn’t have to.
- Creating automation that guides a customer through key steps of their journey can keep them from needing to reach out for help. Such automation only needs to be developed once, then refined over time.
- Having an FAQ page or resource center available online means that answering many customer questions can be done with a single link, not a long, custom explanation.
Of course, if employees time is being saved, it follows that the organization is saving financially too. This brings us to one of the most common objections to new CX initiatives: Money.
The Objection: Customer Experience is Too Great a Financial Investment
The Reality: Customer Experience Done Well Cuts Costs.
Bottom line: Executing on a customer experience strategy in the right way will reduce expenses in your organization. Let’s start with a logical approach — There are only two ways to increase net profit:
- Make more money
- Reduce expenses.
Reducing expenses with customer experience means more top-line revenue for your brand.
Consider where costs occur because customers are disappointed, confused, or not served correctly.
- Packages end up on the wrong porch, requiring customer service calls and another delivery.
- Confusing instructions lead to contact center chats to clarify.
- Incorrect products or billing errors lead to more customer service emails AND retributions like discounts and refunds.
Earlier we talked about saving employees time; now let’s run a quick equation to see what difference can be made financially, using inbound contact center calls as our base.
We can easily work out our contact center costs by calculating how many calls come in, and the average cost of each calL
Number of contact center calls * Cost of each call = Cost of contact center
For our example, let’s say you have an average of 100,000 annual calls into your contact center. Next, imagine that according to available data, each call costs the organization $7.
100,000 * $7 = $700,000 in annual contact center costs
What if you could confidently say that costs could be reduced by 10% with some proactive customer experience measures put in place? Let’s adjust our equation:
Initial number of contact center calls * % reduction of contact center calls * Cost of each call = Savings
When we plug our numbers in, we find significant savings:
100,000 * .1 * $7 = $70,000 in annual contact center savings
Even if leaders want to project a more modest reduction in calls, there’s no getting around the fact that there are tens of thousands of dollars to be saved each year, and spending a fraction of that is a good investment.
This is a great logical exercise to include in any presentation around a new CX initiative — just vary it to fit your needs.
The Objection: The Benefits of Customer Experience Initiatives are Too Hard to Quantify
The Reality: We Have Metrics Available, We Just Need to Use Them
There are widely-used, well-regarded metrics available to help organizations quantify their customer experience success. Warning, acronyms ahead:
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): a numbered scale, often 1 to 5, that quantifies the answer to the question “How would you rate your overall satisfaction?”
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS is a strong loyalty metric, based on the concept that those who interact with your brand are likely to become either detractors (those who speak poorly of the brand) or promoters (those who speak highly of the brand). It uses not only a numbered, 1 to 10 scale, but more importantly asks why a score was given.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): This metric measures the amount of effort a customer feels is required on their part when interacting with your brand.
Connecting these CX metrics to your company’s success in expense reduction can be pretty straightforward. Some lag is typical, but as your scores improve in these metrics, you can expect to watch your contact center costs go down as well.
The Objection: We need to focus on sales, not customer experience
The Reality: Customer Experience Builds Sales
Sales and customer service are two sides of the same coin.
- Your sales process sets the stage for your customer experience.
- Your sales people and processes create the expectations for your prospects.
- And your customer’s delight or disappointment in their experience as customers reflects how well these expectations were set.
We reviewed some powerful CX metrics in the last section, and these metrics tie directly to our sales metrics. For example:
- If NPS feedback reveals that the disappointed customers report feeling their experience isn’t meeting what the sales process promised, then you may have an issue with setting expectations early in their journey.
- CES is often a leading indicator for strength of Word-of-Mouth (WOM) marketing. As you see your customers feeling like your brand provides an easier, more effortless experience, they are also more likely to advocate for your brand. Positive word-of-mouth marketing leads to higher sales.
- Watch metrics like number of inbound prospects and length of sales cycle. A great CX program can increase the former and shorten the latter — all leading to more sales!
Combining customer experience outcomes with business outcomes gives you a complete picture of the story of your organization and your customers.
Taking Your Pitch Beyond Responding to Objections:
Now that you have your facts, it’s time to turn empathy into an action. A couple more key points to consider as you prepare to propose new customer experience initiatives to decision-makers:
Customer Stories Can Move Us More than Metrics
Customer stories, in their own words, help us understand their true struggles and emotions. When building your CX case, look for ways to turn those stories into part of your formula.
If you are building a case for investing in more journey mapping efforts, for example, look for the customer stories that showcase the lack of understanding of a customer’s journey today.
- Listen to contact center calls
- Read those customer emails
- Scour social media and other online communities for real customers sharing their experiences.
If you can, gather customer video testimonials directly from your customers. Seeing a person’s face and emotions while they share their story is the ultimate way to connect and internalize the real, human consequences of the experience we’re offering.
A few weeks ago, I attended a webinar hosted by Decooda and CXWorkout (You can watch a replay here — it’s free but registration is required). They shared videos from people expressing how they were feeling during this pandemic. There is nothing quite as powerful as seeing a fellow human share on that level.
Wrap It Up with a Clear Picture of What This Means for the Future
You’ve managed to share the right financial and business arguments and share your customer’s story. Now ask: what does this mean for your brand, your customers and this leader for the future?
Tap into a vision of building credibility and trust with customers for your brand. What will that mean longer-term?
- It means higher retention rates and customer loyalty.
- It means feeling like we lived our purpose and were there for our customers when they needed us.
- It means our employees feel more engaged and positive about their work.
- It means our brand leads by showing empathy and understanding.
- It means earning authentic customer positive reviews.
- It means delivering better business outcomes.
What would this symbolize for the very leader you’re asking? It may mean they are viewed as a leader in a time of turmoil. It may mean they are positioned to take a more active, visible role in the organization. Weave in what’s important to them, as an individual, to help them see the vision you have for the future.
Your customer experience is always important, but today it needs a different kind of attention.
Leaders, regardless of title, must seek active ways to serve customers today. That means spending time determining what the best possible outcomes are and then actively working toward those.
When you passionately advocate for CX measures, everybody — decision-makers, employees, customers, and you — stand to benefit.