CMSWire: Here Is Where Businesses Are Spending Their Money on Customer Experience

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From a Phil Britt/CMSWire piece I contributed a few days ago. Thank you Phil.

https://www.cmswire.com/customer-experience/here-is-where-businesses-are-spending-their-money-on-customer-experience/

Accompanying infographic is here: https://infogram.com/1p5k3w03kqm967tp3rrgwmj00vh3pgpke5v?live

Developing the right CX strategy is no small feat—but one huge positive is that everyone is at least enthusiastic about the concept. It’s hard to argue against. All companies should be, and most want to be, customer-centric. There are many, many vocal pundits, dedicated practitioners, and strategists out there who see the value of treating customers well, designing around customer needs, and focusing on what it takes to help them be successful. However, there are challenges in bringing this to a reality. Chief among them is a dearth of practical guidance that bridges the gaps between great concepts, viable strategies, effective tactics, and measurable results.

While there is a lot of research available that reinforces the merits of CX leadership and investment, what is missing is an acknowledgement that successful CX leadership IS company leadership. I’m not saying that “everyone owns CX.” While this sounds amazing, it’s foolhardy to assume that every member of the leadership team can be bound by a neural network and execute a cohesive strategy. That just doesn’t happen. One person needs to own that strategy, and by “own” I mean orchestrate. This is the job of the Chief Customer Officer. It’s also essential to acknowledge that CX isn’t a philosophy and it isn’t something disconnected from the daily, monthly, and quarterly rhythm of operating a company. You can’t assign a CX leader, tout the importance of treating the customer well, and expect the very fabric of the organization to change.

What I see in my work with chief customer officers inspires me. I was in an entirely different state of mind on this topic two years ago—when I was a CCO. What I see now are smart and experienced business leaders who know how their organizations operate, know how to engage with customers, and know how to translate CX principles into strategies and tactics that make a real impact on their enterprise. To understand how they do this you have to take a look at what drives their thinking and how that results in priorities.

In my tenure as a chief customer officer I talked a lot about connecting the dots: how the job of a CX strategy is to orchestrate, and in order to do that effectively you have to connect the dots between how we operate, how the customer operates, what’s important to both organization, and how to measure mutual success.

Looking from the outside in to figure out what organizations are spending in the service of improving CX seems like a straightforward task but its not. You would think that today’s spending patterns would be a mirror image of what executives priorities are. But they’re not. In a recent survey I conducted with my fellow researchers we learned that the biggest CX investments are on programs that drive product adoption, the development of loyal customers into brand advocates, and process simplification to remove friction. The least amount of investment is on journey mapping, customer engagement programs, and value realization. Aside from the fact that all these things are important, this is not the whole story.

When you compare those survey results with the direct input I got a couple of weeks ago from a small but very knowledgeable group of chief customer officers, a more nuanced story emerges. The CCOs told me that their top priority is the very thing that the survey identifies as the lowest priority. How do we reconcile this? First, there’s a bit of a lag between what executives identify as their strategic priorities and when the resulting spending kicks in. I also believe there is a shift in strategic priorities underway, with today’s most effective chief customer officers playing the long game.

When you break down program priorities based on what the underlying business objectives are, the answer is revealed. Programs deployed by top CCOs are truly purpose-driven, based on the how they build the customer strategy foundation for enduring success. Each step builds on the prior steps:

1. Aligning and reconciling with customer strategies, goals, and processes
2. Continuously improving the understanding of our customers’ business and desired outcomes
3. Assuring customer success utilizing products and deriving desired outcomes
4. Applying customer successes to marketing, advertising, and sales
5. Creating and sustaining differentiated customer engagement

Following this approach assures that investments follow the strategy. The strategy is assured by putting some horsepower behind the CCO as the orchestrator of the CX strategy so that the entire leadership team knows exactly what to do to succeed.

Phil Britt at CMSWire: Business and marketing experts agree that companies need to continue to invest in customer experience to improve business results. Failing to invest will leave companies behind. In fact, research shows that customer experience investments are indeed increasing. Small and mid-sized businesses were expected to have 34% more to spend on customer experience technology this year.

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