Customer experience (CX) today doesn’t just support the business, it often is the business.
Ninety percent of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company, according to Microsoft. A recent survey my company conducted showed customer service can continue to increase loyalty — even when other parts of the business fail.
I may be preaching to the choir here. But in too many companies, the rest of the leadership doesn’t see CX in this way. Too often, they might tout a “customer-first” mindset while relegating customer service and support to a cost center incapable of driving real business value.
This begs the question: How can CX leaders proactively elevate their role and position their team as a source of strategic value for the business? How can they become the leader that drives a customer-first mentality across their organization?
Here are three ways to get a seat at the table.
1. Ditch the CX as a Cost-Center Mindset
I’ve recently noticed a lot of chatbot vendors will tout deflection rate as an end unto itself, as if the primary goal of customer support is to redirect the customer away from the rest of the company.
This is in line with other traditional CX metrics, like first response time (FRT), that champion resource efficiency as the ultimate value to which CX organizations should hold themselves. While efficiency in terms of getting the customer what they want in an acceptable timeframe is very important, relying exclusively on it to prove value is a core symptom of a “cost center” mindset. This is where CX is seen as almost a necessary evil in which the minimum possible investment must be made to keep things afloat.
Instead, efficiency metrics need to be combined with metrics that showcase improvements in customer satisfaction. If you can successfully convey that your programs are increasing customer perception of your brand (and driving revenue, which I dive into later), the perception of your organization by other members of leadership will change as well.
Suddenly, CX is no longer seen as a cost center, but as an opportunity.
Speaking of ….
2. Speak the Language of Revenue
In my recent book “Experience is Everything,” I interviewed Dana Klein, DM Digital, North America for a global footwear brand. She said something that has stuck with me since: “The customer journey is whatever the customer decides it’s going to be. As a company, it’s our job to be present all along that journey, to be consistent at every point on that journey, and to engage one-on-one with the consumer as a person.”
So how do companies implement that type of customer-focused consistency? It requires the other customer-facing teams, specifically marketing and sales, be in lockstep with CX. While silos between these departments do exist, it’s incumbent upon the CX leader to break them down.
An essential first step is to speak their language: the language of revenue.
We all know that CSAT, NPS and similar are important metrics to monitor. But seasoned CX leaders also know that board members’ ears don’t perk up at those metrics the same way they do for revenue growth, customer lifetime value and conversion rates. However, every customer service interaction is an opportunity to improve all those bottom-line metrics. CX leaders who identify revenue generating opportunities within their programs will quickly find that they have just as much to offer to the bottom line as sales and marketing.
By tracking the same types of metrics as marketing and sales teams, CX leaders will find ways to collaborate with them and improve the overall customer journey. At the same time, it will greatly improve the internal perception of the CX organization.
Related Article: How to Convince Your CFO to Invest in Customer Experience
3. Let Your CX Efforts Be Data-Driven
We’ve all heard the following business clichés:
- “Data is the lifeblood of a company.”
- “Customers are the lifeblood of a company.”
I would argue that they need to be combined:
- “Customer data is the lifeblood of any modern company, placing CX squarely at its heart.”
Most CX leaders are already using data sourced from customer interactions to improve processes within their team. But this data must branch out from CX and into other parts of the company to drive meaningful change.
CX data can prove which marketing campaigns result in positive customer service interactions. It can track the success of product launches and help gather feedback about current products. It can help inform longer-term business strategy and ensure that any important business decisions are being made with the voice of the customer in mind.
Ultimately, whether it is through the revenue KPIs you track, or the data you provide others, insights derived from customer interactions are your golden ticket to higher visibility and influence in your organization.
This is a vision championed by Alexandra Vidaeff, director of client services at FRAME, also interviewed for “Experience is Everything.” Speaking about the future of customer experience as a strategic driver for enterprises, she said: “I would really like to see CX at the core of the entire company. So, any time a major decision is made, nothing is decided until the decision makers hear from the customer service team. Coming to customer service is like going directly to the customer herself — and nothing happens without hearing from the customer first.”