Merkle

Merkle is a leading data-driven customer experience management (CXM) company that specializes in the delivery of unique, personalized customer experiences across platforms and devices for the Fortune 1000.

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5 Steps to Secure Budget for CX Improvements

September 9, 2022

By Mariana Thygesen

In this article, Mariana Thygesen, Director of Customer Strategy at Merkle, discusses the keys to a successful implementation of customer experience enhancements for leaders looking to implement a new CX function within their organization.

Your company might be going through growing pains and is at a point when functions and teams are starting to feel more disconnected than ever. Frequently, growth spurts like this are accompanied by growing inefficiency in product or service development, as well as longer lead times in bringing them to market. As a result, customer satisfaction deteriorates. This is when leadership might decide to make a pivot toward customer centricity and introduce a new customer experience (CX) function tasked with bringing teams together to build and work along an end-to-end view of the customer journey.

When properly implemented, the CX function should provide clarity on how each team touching a product or supporting its development, go-to-market activities, and customer service impacts the total customer experience. While auditing the customer journey to identify pain points and gaps is a necessary step, it is only through clear alignment from leaders at the top of the organization and a shift to agile product and budget processes that CX improvements can be implemented in a timely manner. Our research shows that of the B2B companies surveyed in 2021, more than 80% had budgets allocated for digital transformation; however, only 20% believed this is enough to fuel ambitions.

Let’s outline five steps that new CX leaders should follow to ensure CX enhancements can be realized faster and sufficient available funds can be secured when needed.

The case for CX allocation: A fictitious, but realistic example

Consider the following situation. As a fresh CX leader, you perform an audit of a B2B client’s journey, and discover that potential clients who submit requests for contact on your company’s website receive no confirmation or other communication in response. You also find that the lead is appended to a queue that may not be consistently reviewed by the sales or marketing team for qualification purposes.

From the customer’s point of view, they experience the following issues:

· A lack of confirmation that their information was received

· Uncertainty regarding lead time of when someone will contact them

· A lack of engagement from your company via email journey mapping or thought leadership on topics of interest to the customer

· Disappointment with the company and lost interest

On the business side, you uncover the following issues:

· No agreed-upon definitions of or differentiation between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs)

· A missing lead-enrichment step

· Lack of lead scoring and prioritization of incoming leads to make sales’ work easier

· Lost business opportunities

You quickly draft a roadmap to fix the issues based on a clear understanding of what the solution should be:

1. Update the form submission confirmation page to include information on when to expect a call back from a payment solutions expert

2. Develop an email welcome series with content highlighting company’s expertise tailored by segment or vertical

3. Identify the right lead enrichment platform, assessing options, then integrating a lead enrichment platform

4. In a cross-functional effort, develop and update the CRM platform with lead scoring rules that evaluate enriched leads

5. Update the lead flow to go through enrichment prior to hitting sales team’s queues

Then you run into budget, roadmap, and resource-allocation barriers preventing you from implementing your solution because you:

· Need an investment in new technology that performs lead enrichment and scoring

· Need to develop and implement triggered email communications, and update and test website content and contact form

Unfortunately, due to previously committed roadmaps and budget allocations in effect until the next budget cycle, the proposed CX enhancement gets tabled until the next annual budget cycle.

How to Craft a Compelling Case for CX Resources Off-Budget Cycle

The above example illuminates the issue with a tactical approach to fixing customer experience journeys without admitting that a transition to a customer-centric paradigm requires a major overhaul of existing processes. There are five actions that, if taken by a CX leader, increase the likelihood of securing resources off-cycle to advance the company’s transformation.

Step 1: Agree on a process for implementing CX enhancements with cross-functional management:

The main objective is to set expectations on deliverables of the impending CX audit at the highest level of functional leadership. It’s likely that CX enhancements will require investment in new marketing advancements or other technology.

Step 2: Perform and document customer journey audits:

As a best practice, keep your team and stakeholders informed of ongoing findings through regular share-out sessions. In addition to sharing, allow time for discussion to crowd-source potential solutions, thus increasing the likelihood of gaining support as contributors are more supportive of solutions that incorporate their perspectives.

Step 3: Identify opportunities, build business cases:

Go through the exercise of prioritizing CX improvement projects based on missed business opportunity, level of effort, and technical contingencies.

For example, the described case above has a potential estimated at $100,000 in annualized incremental revenue, a medium-to-high level of effort across multiple functions and requires an investment in a lead enrichment software. Another identified CX opportunity that addresses missing platform orientation and new user training materials is estimated to positively impact user retention equivalent to ~$75,000 in annualized retained revenue. The level of effort associated with implementing the new user onboarding is relatively low. There’s no investment in new technology required.

Going through a list of identified CX improvement opportunities in this way helps provide critical details for decision-makers at the stage of participatory budget allocation.

Step 4: Present business cases at a dedicated cross-functional forum to reprioritize functional roadmaps:

Discuss each business case with a group of stakeholders representing any functions that will be involved on the execution stages, including those who contributed to finding a solution.

Step 5: Apply value proposition (or participatory) budget process to identify projects that deliver value to customers:

Business cases and other prioritization details should allow participants of the value-proposition budget process make informed decisions and vote on which project gets to the implementation phase. Agile processes can then help illuminate solutions in a timely and optimal manner for customers.

As a leader of a new CX function in any organization, it is critical for you to invest time in educating and aligning the leadership before you and your team even kick off the customer journey audit. It is also imperative to consider and highlight process changes required to support the success of you function and ultimately a transformation to a customer-centric model.

Tags

customer experience, CX
budget