How to overcome the objection of “Intangible” ROI


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When you look at Customer Experience, Customer Behavior, and the data/analytics that are required to make the most of these opportunities, several technical, political, and cultural barriers are usually thrown at those making the case to invest in customer experience.

If you have tried to influence someone based on an intangible or soft ROI, you know that these objections typically have a hidden agenda.  Let’s examine some of these further.

If you have an emerging technology and you are trying to solve some of the traditional problems like FCR or AHT, many may be skeptical.  Their mindset may be, “Six Sigma didn’t solve it, and while your technology may be able to better identify the problem, the real problem is my internal execution.”  There is probably some truth in that statement, but it is really a path of least resistance mentality.

The Customer Experience Renaissance that has occurred over the past 4 years really couldn’t have had worse timing in many respects.  We have had an economic downturn coupled with a fragile recovery.  We have had a much stronger regulatory environment.  Lastly, we’ve seen many businesses either fail or merge.  Customer Analytics has had to overcome a lot.  How do you make that work when you are busy just integrating two company data sets into one?

However, crisis also introduces opportunity and in many respects, Customer Analytics should have been embedded in the solution on these challenges.

Probably the biggest objection that people in Customer Experience face is “soft” return on business cases.  The way that I would approach that is to turn  the question around. 

Are you willing to risk uncertain higher revenue at a certain higher costs?

This argument holds true in many industries.  Consider the mutual fund industry.  Higher expense ratios do not deliver higher returns.

This higher costs has two components:  the cost of complexity and the cost of complacency.  The cost of service is inflated because companies introduce higher costs due to these elements.  These elements impact the customer experience as well.

The Cost of Complexity

Complexity typically exists with product proliferation and customer segmentation.

The Cost of Complacency

Complacency takes the shape of organizational silos that don’t communicate effectively and unstructured data and data strategies..

Unnecessary costs = (The Cost of Complexity + The Cost of Complacency) * Coefficient of Chaos

 The coefficient of chaos is a factor based on the lack of an integrated customer experience strategy that includes Vision, Leadership, Goals, Communication, and Data.  Today, many companies have more activity, more responsibility, less headcount, less budget, but the operational folks still must “guarantee” results on their operational initiatives.  Existing tolls, processes, and organizational structures fail to solve for these 3 factors and any initiative must consider how they will breakdown each one independently and collectively.

Overcoming the Objections

There are really four elements that are required to overcome the objections.

First, reframe the question like we talked about early.

There are three other components that you will see in future blog posts.

1) Solve your data leadership and organizational structure flaws
2) Provide a comprehensive, choreographed customer experience for your customers and your company

3) Communicate Consistently:  Restate the reframed question every time and provide supporting documentation.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

John Corrigan
J.C. Corrigan has been an operational and analytical leader in every endeavor throughout his career. J.C. has served as a Mission Commander in the United States Navy, flying the P-3C Orion aircraft during the Cold War. He has mentored several associates while working for General Electric as a Black Belt and Capital One in several operational leadership roles.


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