A marketing director pitching a new service to her executive board.

4 Tips for Getting Executive Buy-in on Your Customer Experience Strategy

5 minute read
Phil Britt avatar
C-level sponsorship can be an essential factor in being able to obtain the resources necessary for a successful CX program.

According to a Pega Systems study, 35% of businesses have a C-level sponsor for CX and in 36% of companies, it’s led at the director level or below. Yet C-level sponsorship can be an essential factor in being able to obtain the resources necessary for a successful CX program. 

With so much on the line for your customers, getting your leadership to buy in to CX strategies should be top of mind. To that end, we've put together these 4 tips to help get everyone on the same page.

Focus on Revenue

The link between positive CX and the CX programs that nurture this is a pretty dead simple conversation about revenue, said Lauren Locke-Paddon, vice president of marketing for Vocal Video. “When developing, pitching, launching, or refining a CX program the best place is to start is a business case for the additional revenue this will provide for the company, as well as the money that will walk out the door without it.”

It’s well documented and intuitive that positive customer experiences would lead to greater account expansion, customer retention, better and faster word of mouth business, Locke-Paddon added. “Ironically, new sales can be one of the areas that reaps the greatest rewards from a great CX program.”

Pitch to your executive sponsor once you’re armed with a business case, Locke-Paddon advised. If that business case isn’t convincing, go back to the drawing board or try a different angle.

“The resources to close the loop with your customers when you do start building systems of feedback are critical, and for that you’ll need someone at the top of your organization on board,” said Locke-Paddon.

Related Article: Why Is Starbucks so Successful Despite Its Mediocre Coffee?

Offer Quantitative Data

“CFO advocacy can be the main lever leveraging the necessary financial prioritization for CX overhaul, particularly when it involves redesigning and reimplementing customer service, omnichannel touchpoints and institutionalizing continual feedback,” said Jim Pendergast, senior vice president of altLINE, a division of The Southern Bank Company. “This comes as a surprise to some, but your strongest executive ally for CX initiatives is often your CFO.”

Solid quantitative data is the best way to win in CFO advocacy, often in ways that will unlock other executive buy in, according to Pendergast, who recommended the following three ideas:

  • Perform competitive assessments showcasing how your customer support and product or service rankings compare to top competitors. Underscore the financial value of how you're performing worse or better.
  • Create customer experience reports which overview the typical customer journey. Use a mix of voice of customer research, surveys, and third-party data to inform these reports, paying special attention to any communication and experiential gaps that cause missed revenue as well as any current CX methods that are expensive yet underperforming.
  • Offer business scenario models that tease the real-world benefits CX initiatives would spur. These are forecasting scenarios that help illustrate the ongoing effects of a particular business change, in this case helping leaders review, analyze, and understand CX initiatives concretely.

“Underpinning all this is quantitative data that basically answers this question, "Here's how much money we stand to earn if we make our customers happy in this way,” Pendergast said. “With data, scenarios, and competitive assessments backing up that point, it's difficult to imagine a CFO, much less any C-suite exec, remaining skeptical.”

Learning Opportunities

Different Metrics for Different Executives

While financial metrics often take center stage, they’re not always the focus of some C-level executives, according to Allison Tiscornia, Sendoso chief customer officer.

“To showcase the value of your CX program, you need to understand what metrics are important to company stakeholders and decision-makers, then prove CX’s worth in those terms,” Tiscornia said. “A CMO may care about brand reputation while a CFO will prioritize cost reduction. Gather metrics that show CX is contributing to those goals.”

The metrics you choose to use will also differ depending on where your customer experience program is housed, Tiscornia added. “If you’re a support professional, cost per case will likely be your metric of choice, or perhaps if living under customer success then customer retention may be the preferred metric. While pipeline generation may be the ideal metric for a sales or marketing professional.”

Expand the Idea

Don’t limit any presentation or recommendation to CX, said Brian Dennis, CX consultant and author of If the Customer’s the Copilot, You’re in the Wrong Seat. “

“One of the easiest and most successful approaches to get corporate buy-in is simply ‘expanding the idea’ to include a capacity that is important to them,” Dennis said. “More simply, don’t just make a business case for your CX initiatives as a standalone effort, but rather tie it to an ROI that includes an effort that is already established or on the C-Suite roadmap.”

Dennis said he had a client that wanted to utilize a geofencing tool that could measure the experience if a customer visited one of their stores and did not make a purchase or purchased less than intended. At the same time, the client’s C-Suite was actively trying to implement a new BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) feature that was being rolled out quickly due to COVID-19.

“This CX executive won C-level buy-in by articulating how this technology could support both of their CX desires and position them to improve overall customer metrics at the same time,” Dennis said.