Historically, discussions about “the customer experience” have been code for “let’s talk about some quick wins to improve our renewal rates before the end of the next quarter.” But more recently, CX has joined product, marketing, and sales as another key aspect of developing an integrated revenue engine. And, as I called out in an earlier piece, the CMO is uniquely positioned to own the customer experience. If you’re a revenue-focused marketing leader, growing revenue through a thoughtful customer experience is going to be your next big win. In fact, your customer experience is likely going to make or break you in the next recession. What follows in this piece is how to please the audiences that aren’t your customers: your executive team and employees.
Begin determining your customer experience benchmarks with this tool.
Owning the Customer Success Narrative Means Owning the Success Narrative, Period
Let’s start, selfishly, with your colleagues in the C-Suite. We know from our CMO Customer Advisory Board that it’s been a battle for many marketing leaders to gain mindshare among the executive team. Still, one that was largely won by “effective CMOs [who] have built credibility as a key player in the executive team… [with] insights…across multiple key areas, including sales, product, and customer success.” In short, successful marketing leaders have capitalized on their ownership of automation, prospect, and customer engagement data and their relationships with sales to drive better marketing interactions. That position has only been strengthened as the executive team has recognized the value the CMO brings.
It’s this position that makes the marketing team the most likely agent of change in the shift towards prioritizing CX. Consider this: Gartner reports that “more than 40 percent of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience,” but “only 19% of companies have a dedicated customer success function.” If the end state is a robust, impactful customer success team, but the current state requires validating that this is a worthwhile allocation of company resources, someone will need to own the transition. That someone is the marketing leader.
Going Beyond Churn Rates to a Revenue Impact Methodology the Execs Will Believe In
So, what types of benefits should you expect from becoming an experience-driven business? Obviously, you should expect your renewal rates to improve, but the overall impact on revenue can be significantly more than a few points of improvement on churn. A study by Forrester found that “experience-driven businesses grew revenue 1.4x faster and increased customer lifetime value 1.6x more than other companies in the past year.” Pause for a moment to consider what it would mean to grow your business 40% faster and with 60% for CLTV. That’s far more valuable than the classic approach to customer management can ever hope to deliver! And these results are not uncommon. Qualtrics looked at companies with $1B in revenue and found that even a modest improvement in CX was worth a gain of $775m over 3 years.
There aren’t many executive-sponsored initiatives with this risk to reward potential: invest in making modest improvements in your customer’s experience and start growing revenue by 40% more each year.
Make It an Inspiring Mission for the Entire Organization
Revenue should be your mission. It’s your colleagues’ mission and the sum focus of your sales and marketing staff. But let’s be honest: for a lot of people in other departments, it can be hard to feel that same singleness of purpose. So do yourself a favor and make the easiest sell of the year to your employees: tell them to stop wondering what to prioritize and start asking themselves whether what they work on next will delight your customers. There’s a lot to gain by sharing this message (and meaning it!) from the very top:
- You’ll start holistically driving the changes that those “experience-driven” orgs are seeing.
You’ve pitched the executives and board on the financial impact a committed focus to customer experience will have on your business. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you’ve mapped-out a multi-quarter project. Your rank-and-file want to feel good about where they work. Sharing this vision early and often is the right way to build commitment to your plan from the bottom up.
- You’ll get more actionable feedback.
Your tier-one support staff may not think much about the significant impact they have on customer satisfaction, renewals, and revenue growth. Without the right timespan and context, even showing them a tidy presentation on it won’t matter. But these people already know the ugly truth about your renewal emails with quoting mistakes, the broken links in the customer portal that stop self-serve password resets and all the reasons that get your customers bent out of shape. Would these things come up in a discussion about driving incremental account growth? Maybe not. But these are precisely the things that come out when you ask them, “what’s making our customers feel less than delighted?”
- You’ll give people a noble purpose.
What higher goal can there be for anyone than honestly working to serve others? Research shows that employees imbued with a purpose are more productive, happier, and remain longer at companies that give them that purpose. Making customer experience the cornerstone of your entire company’s success short-circuits cynicism, apathy, moral hazard, and confusion.
- You’ll implement a virtuous cycle.
Happy teams make happy customers who make happier teams who make happier customers. When you review the body of work on customer experience best practices, you find that it is neither an end-state nor something that can be entirely managed to an ideal outcome. It’s a top-down philosophy that evolves over time until it becomes a critical element of your company culture. Don’t over-estimate how quickly you can achieve significant gains from your CX initiative and don’t under-estimate the transformative power you can have on your company culture, either.
Getting From Where You Are Today to Where You Want to Go
While it’s never a wrong time to start implementing customer-positive changes, there’s an element of “stage appropriateness” that will dictate how you should move forward. If you haven’t mapped your customer journey from prospect through renewal, for example, you can’t start fixing that journey. Likewise, if that journey isn’t aligned across your sales, marketing, product, customer success, finance, and channel functions, then sweeping changes will engender confusion instead of improvement.
You can sort through all of this by downloading our Customer Experience Benchmark Tool to evaluate 9 different metrics for an impactful Customer Experience, across 3 areas: Behavioral, Leading, and Lagging. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be ready for our CX Charter Roadmap, which will outline what to do next. Take note of step 5, which should make it clear customer success is a process, not an end-state. But it’s a process with a lot of value for you, your customers and your business.