Do You Have the Budget to Make Sure the Customer's Voice Is Heard?
No customer experience budget?
I haven't written a CX Journey™ Musings post lately, but I found a topic that warrants a bit of reflection.
I recently read an article on MyCustomer about a study that Ovum and BoldChat conducted in which they found that many companies don't have the necessary budget to improve the customer experience. Specifically, the findings noted in the article state: "Conversely, 43% of contact centre managers feel they don’t have the necessary budget to invest in the technology to improve experiences, whilst 48% say they are hampered by outdated technology." This got me thinking about what I've heard from clients both recently and in the past: we don't have the budget or the resources to listen to the customer, subscribe to tools that ensure action will be taken on insights, make those improvements for the customer, etc.
It seems ironic to me that companies are in business to create and to nurture customers, and yet they are unable to do what is necessary to actually create and nurture customers!
It seems odd to me that many companies are constantly innovating and evolving, and yet they don't have budget to make sure the customer's voice is heard and implemented into those innovations.
It seems strange to me that those companies that are not constantly innovating and evolving are always in some state of flux or change, and yet those changes don't incorporate what's important to the customer but actually make things worse.
It seems strange to me that companies that are not constantly innovating, evolving, and focusing on the customer are even still in business.
Money is being spent by businesses every day to make changes or improvements, and yet they don't factor in the needs of the customer? Weird, no?
Here's my thinking on this, given the purpose of a business.
Everything you do is (for the) customer experience.
Isn't it? Am I off base here? Isn't it all customer experience?
Whether you're installing new technologies, reducing waste, improving efficiencies, hiring new employees, developing new training programs, etc., isn't that all going to impact the customer experience?
Here's the thing. As customer experience professionals, we don't really own any budget, except for maybe listening tools, analytical tools, and personnel. (That doesn't make our roles any less important, though!) But oftentimes, that budget sits elsewhere, e.g., marketing, operations, customer service, etc., too.
Quite simply, the budget for any improvements to be made comes from the departments making those improvements. But it feels like we, as customer experience professionals, get dinged for this. So when you hear folks say that they have no budget for customer experience improvements, they're really saying that they have no budget to make operational or technological improvements that will allow them to succeed in business, that they'll be behind the times for a bit until their executives allow them to invest in the tools and technologies to advance the business. And, ultimately, that translates to: "We don't have budget for customer experience improvements" because that's what they really are. And yet that's bad on us.
The net result of those types of statements? Customer experience is not a priority. The customer is not a priority. Because companies always seem to have money to spend on something - and it's usually advertising, to attract more customers. Wrong decision. Yes, we want more customers, but if we can't keep the ones we already have, attracting more is not the answer!
Maybe I can't have it both ways. I want the attention on customer experience improvements, but it seems when we call it that, perhaps executives cringe because it's still taboo to focus on the customer. How is that even possible in 2017? What do you think?
The New Brand Differentiators Are Operations and Logistics
Operations and logistics are frequently viewed as secondary functions that can be handled by someone else. But here’s the thing: With data so richly available, using it to help reinvent operations and logistics can help you stand out just as much as the next electric car or purple cow.
Just take a look at some of the world leaders in business.
Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, and other sharing sites are turning their industries around with structural and operational changes that challenge old paradigms. It’s not the products or services that stand out but the operations, logistics, and method of delivery.
For example, Amazon does not just succeed on lower prices or by offering different products than their competitors. They have revolutionized, simplified, and automated ordering, customer service, distribution, and warehousing.
The results have been staggering. It’s estimated that in 2016, they represent about 30-40% of internet retail sales and 8-10% of total retail sales.
Operations Innovation Isn’t Just For The Big Businesses
You might be thinking, “But that’s for the big businesses. How can that help my small business?”
Changing operational paradigms is for small businesses, too! Take a look at GrubHub. They are a publicly traded company, but think of whom they help: restaurants, big and small. They’ve helped thousands of restaurants expand their sales by providing seamless delivery.
Outsourcing key activities like web design, social media, cloud services, CRM, and even distribution have become both less complicated and more affordable.
No matter the size of your business, you can streamline or maximize your operations to take your sales and profits to a whole new level. The key is maximizing forecasting, inventory control, and distribution to maximize service, investment return, sales, and profitability.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Many operations experts say that 80% of sales are with 20% of your products. It’s often true, yet suppliers continue to proliferate styles, colors, sizes, models, and features to presumably serve more customers and provide more features. By keeping it simple, you help yourself and your customers.
- Pursue profit and not volume. Businesses frequently fail by adding too many stores, products, and marketing. In contrast, focusing on competitiveness, bestsellers, reducing costs, and reducing structure can have huge payoffs.
- Conduct a simple “SWOT” analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to get a perspective on your business. The surprising aspect of this exercise is that we frequently take our strengths and opportunities for granted rather than maximizing them. For example, approaching key and repeat customers usually presents the greatest opportunity, lowest cost, and most profitable source of additional sales.
- Encourage testing new ideas and scrapping ones that don’t work. You will make mistakes. Focus on solving them rather than blaming someone. Consider using the process of develop, test, measure, and adapt. The measure step is, by the way, the most frequently forgotten.
It’s easy to get seduced by design, marketing, or the next flashy idea. Plenty of businesses innovate in these areas. Don’t forget, though, that just as frequently, success comes from innovation in operation and logistics.
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