What If Customer Experience Has No ROI? (Part 2)

Here’s the 2nd installment of What If Customer Experience Has No ROI? …

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Who cares about ROI anyway?

Most executives care about the ROI of just about everything they invest their time and/or money on. But they are only partially satisfied with the results of generic, industry-level research findings. They want to know about the specific ROI for their customer experience efforts.

If customer executive leaders don’t address the ROI needs of key stakeholders, then they will find it difficult to gain the full commitment of those executives. To understand the interplay between ROI and commitment, here’s a very simple model outlining five levels of executive commitment:

  1. Opposers don’t believe in customer experience. These executives generally won’t support customer experience efforts no matter what ROI data they see, but can become passives when they see strong support from their peers.
  2. Passives don’t really care about customer experience. These executives are willing to become toe-dippers if they see strong support from their peers.
  3. Toe-dippers are willing to offer some time and resources for customer experience. These executives will increase their participation and can even become supporters if they see strong ROI.
  4. Supporters are willing to give their resources to customer experience efforts and encourage their peers to do the same because they understand the ROI of these efforts. They use ROI results to strengthen their discussions across the company.
  5. Advocates fight any battle to make sure that customer experience efforts are funded. They generally understand the impact that customer experience has to the long-term competitiveness of the company without any project-based ROI data.

What impact does ROI have on the journey?

Hopefully I’ve made the case that well-placed customer experience improvements drive loyalty and deliver a very positive ROI and that an understanding of this dynamic can increase executive commitment. All of this is just a preamble to what’s really important: how it affects your customer experience journey.

To look at this dynamic, I mapped the aggregate level of commitment of the executive team against the ambition of customer experience transformation efforts. This step identified three separate areas.

The best place to be is in an area I call the “Zone of Success” where the ambitions of the program are aligned with the level of commitment of the executive team. As long as customer experience programs stay in this range, they have a great opportunity to succeed.

In some cases, the level executive commitment can outstrip the pace of the customer experience program. This situation, called the “Land Of Executive Frustration,” can be a problem for customer experience leaders. The executive team wants to recognize all of the great ROI faster than it can be achieved. In these cases, it’s important to establish a multi-year roadmap that shows some incremental ROI results over time. It’s even possible to accelerate your efforts a bit to wind up in the “Zone of Success.”

Unfortunately, many efforts wind up in the “Field Of Impossible Dreams.” In these situations, there’s not enough executive commitment to support the desired change. If you’re leading a customer experience effort that has ambitions in this area, then you need to raise the commitment level of the executives with a solid ROI model; or go look for another job.

The bottom line: Find a path to your zone of success.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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