It’s time to dream a little bigger

Bubbles rising on a blue sky

‘Customer experience’ (CX) has established itself as the buzzword du jour. Like all buzzwords, it’s become a bit of a nuisance, encouraging people to file it away without considering what it means to them or why they should do it.

The gold rush for CX has resulted in many tech vendors and agencies purporting to deliver excellence in simple ways. This encourages businesses to sign off cash and dive in without a plan. CX, therefore, ends up being an exercise in polishing minor elements of user experience (UX), improving basic aspects of fulfilment or other superficial optimizations.

But the CX movement was never meant to be about hygiene. It began with greater intentions. What it really means is a leap of faith in committing to delivering CX as a fundamental business strategy. It’s an existential decision to compete in a market by delivering excellence in every detail of the customer’s end-to-end interactions, and to be customer-centric (as opposed to shareholder-centric).

If done properly, this comes with fundamental changes to the way a business is run, not least how finance works. In the world of CX, you cannot (and shouldn’t try to) prove the direct commercial benefit of everything you do.

This creates a difficult situation. On the one hand, committing to CX requires big transformation and a whole new way of thinking about return on investment, which is by no means an easy cultural challenge. On the other hand, if we try to deliver CX within the existing framework of ROI and commercial goals, we likely won’t get very far.


Taking CX seriously

Imagine you’re an e-commerce retailer. Should you invest money in redesigning and optimizing the thank-you page of your website, by which I mean the page someone sees after they’ve paid?

In the traditional world, this page probably wouldn’t get much focus (unless it was broken) because it’s hard to attribute any sales to it. There may be some opportunities to cross-sell associated products but, for the most part, it’s just a transactional confirmation. Therefore, this would never get prioritized if you’re mostly concerned about revenue potential.

But in the world of CX, this is a very important page. If I’ve just bought something, I need confirmation of what is going to happen next and what to expect in terms of delivery. I need to know where I might go if there’s an issue. I may need to know what to do once I receive it and how to get the most from it, and perhaps how to connect with other customers.


Revenue translations

What can you do? Without transforming the whole business overnight, how can you ever get the buy-in to make these kinds of changes?

Short of convincing the chief financial officer to entirely reform the way finance works, the only answer to this question is that CX potential needs to be translated into revenue potential.

Remember that thank-you page. Good CX on this page might translate to revenue in several ways:

  • Repeat purchase – if the customer has a good experience throughout their journey, they’re more likely to buy again, buy more and stay with you
  • Brand equity – through positive word-of-mouth and referrals
  • Reduced customer service operational cost – by setting the right expectations, yielding fewer calls
  • Fewer returns – thanks to a happier experience when receiving the goods

I won’t venture to make a calculation, but you can start to understand the potential revenue value that CX on this page is able to influence, and also create a rough model that shows what an X% improvement in experience might be worth.

To make this calculation, you might need to make some fairly wild assumptions and guesses, and it’s not going to be perfect. There’s no way around this where CX is concerned.

However, the point is to be able to focus your efforts, attention and spend on where there is the greatest benefit to both the business and the customer. Laying out the benefits in this way neatly encapsulates both.

If you engage in customer journey mapping as you ought to, you’ll identify different experience touchpoints and, by using a consistent approach to revenue proxies, you can identify which parts of the experience drive the greatest impact.


Originally published on The Drum.