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What You Can Do When the CEO Says “No” to Your CX Business Case

Customer experience requires funding and funding requires a strong business case. So how do you draw a direct connection between your efforts and the business resources needed to sustain them?

Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a relative newcomer, just beginning a new program, or refining the next level of organizational improvement, chances are that you’ve been asked to demonstrate the business impact of the customer experience program.

First you spent a lot of time masterfully outlining how industry-leading customer satisfaction would be achieved by drawing on the latest research and best practices. This impressive plan will ensure the support of the executive team, you told yourself.iStock_75743101_LARGE_business_man_saying_stop_resized.png

After all, asking for funding is merely a formality, right? Who wouldn’t support an investment in happier and more loyal customers? And your executive sponsor supports your ideas about the importance of building a customer-centric culture—until now. Your plan came back with some encouraging comments, but without the requested funding.

When I talk with other CX practitioners about challenges they are facing, the above scenario is not unusual. In fact, I experienced this early in my career and learned some basics that I still use today.

I had just been asked to lead my first customer experience program and was familiar with putting together a business case. When I managed customer service, I went through the same exercise and knew that I would probably receive 90-95% of requested funding. So, when I received no funding for the CX program, I was mystified and decided to find out why.

My first stop was my direct manager, the CEO. I asked him a couple of questions that focused on whether the business case was complete enough. He assured me that it was technically well-written but that it was competing with a lot of other requests from other departments. So far, I had not learned anything new. But, then, he said something that captured my attention. He said that other proposals included a shorter term return on investment. While my business case showed the benefits of increased customer satisfaction over the next 3 years, other plans demonstrated ROI in a much shorter time frame.

My next stop was the chief financial officer. Already aware that the financial section needed to include not only long-term, but also short-term benefits, I asked him if there was anything else that led to the decision not to fund the program. He said that while he supported an increase in customer satisfaction, he didn’t understand the difference between customer experience and customer service. Wasn’t he already funding customer service, and wasn’t that enough to increase customer satisfaction?

The alarm bells went off in my head and I realized that I had not spent enough time educating each member of the executive team about the unique value an enterprise customer experience program delivers.

I learned so much from those two meetings that I set up meetings with each member of the executive team and received valuable feedback that influenced how I construct a business case. We all know that a strong business case is, and should be, considered mandatory. You can find a lot of information online about which sections to include, but I found that, besides the standard sections on financial metrics, goals and milestones, there is much more that goes into writing a plan that secures funding for customer experience.

So how do you do it? By asking a few pivotal questions and remembering several key points, you can build a business case that is effective and convincing. Just follow the steps below:

Build an Effective Business Case

My first lesson was a tough one. I didn’t receive any funding that first year but the work still had to be done to mature the program and demonstrate its value. The following year my learning points were put into action and I developed a compelling business case. I’d like to say that I received 100% of requested funding but it was significantly less. It took about 4 years before the funding was at the level that I had originally requested.

About_Those_Metrics_sidebar_to_What_do_to_when.jpgSome might say that making appointments with each executive to educate and inform, developing a meticulous business plan with both short and long term benefits—all while building an enterprise wide customer experience program—is more than other, more traditional areas of the business would be required to do.

But consider that, for many organizations, customer experience is a new initiative. While head-nodding occurs when the benefits of customer loyalty are discussed, only well understood and supported programs receive funding.

The good news is that if you keep these straightforward ideas in mind, your business plan will secure the required resources.


This article original appeared in Customer Think on August 3, 2016.

The post What You Can Do When the CEO Says “No” to Your CX Business Case appeared first on Customer Experience Management Blog.

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