Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Help! My Execs Don't Get It!

Executives are still saying, "Show me the money!" when it comes to justifying listening to the voice of the customer and putting the customer at the center of all they do.

How can you (a) gain their buy-in, (b) show them the money, and (c) convince them to stop just focusing on the metrics?

So glad you asked.

As unbelievable as it is, there are still plenty of company executives out there today who don't get it; they still need to be convinced that they should be listening to the voice of the customer and making decisions based on customers' wants and needs, not their own.

The following tips apply whether you're trying to get executives to buy in to this entire notion or if they've (sorta) bought in but are only focused on the metrics, not the actual improvements.

Before you begin on this journey, it's also important to know your audience and understand the language in which they speak. By that I mean, what's important to your executives and what are the hot buttons that they can relate to? I think most of them speak the language of sales or revenue. Tell your story in a way that helps them understand how being customer-centric ultimately translates to shareholder value.

Stakeholder Interviews. Giving stakeholders an overview of your strategy, along with the objectives, highlights of their involvement, and well-documented reasons for putting customers at the center of the universe will set things off on the right foot. At the same time, understanding stakeholder needs, concerns, and roadblocks as well as identifying what insights they'd like the initiative to provide will help you identify ways to better engage them. Whether you're just kicking off your CX and VOC strategies or have a more-mature program, stakeholder interviews can help to bring executives (back) into alignment with the effort.

Build Your Business Case. Identify your objectives and then align the outcomes and benefits tied to each. Clearly, the stronger the business case, the better. Your outcomes may be customer retention, account growth, new business through referrals, culture change, etc. Benefits might include cost savings and other efficiencies. Communicate objectives, outcomes, and benefits to gain buy-in.

Enlist an Executive. OK, that sounds counter-intuitive, but there is quite possibly one executive who gets it. Enlist his or her help to build the case, be the champion, and help you socialize the message with the rest of the executives.

To support the business case, show some Quick Wins or Proofs of Concept. Quick Wins can be achieved through service or account recovery examples or by listening to customers at a specific touchpoint, making improvements, and showing ROI. To help build your case, focus on what's important to the customer as well as to the business; use a critical touchpoint or moment of truth as your stepping stone. Baby steps. Small, yet impactful, examples - tangible value - for the big win.

Customer Immersion. Walking in customers' shoes has become a cliché in our world, but that's what customer immersion programs are all about. Have executives experience what customers experience when they (try to) do business with you. This can be eye-opening, for sure!

Customer Stories. Tell their stories, whether it's what needs they are trying to fulfill, how they interact with the company, what their experiences are, or what the brand means to them. Use their comments (verbatims) from surveys or social media to bring their stories to life. As strange as it may sound, humanize them. Humanize their experiences.

These tips will help you appeal to both the emotional and the rational sides for your executives, a one-two punch that ought to get them focusing on the right thing: your customers.

What's measured improves. - Peter F. Drucker

8 comments:

  1. A comment was made on Google+ that this is a great infographic to support your case: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228129 (from shankman | honig, titled "A Customer Saved is a Penny Earned."

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    1. Here's another post with great details to build the case: ROI of CX http://www.etuma.com/the-roi-of-cx/

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  2. Annette, it strikes me that some people are "all costs and no values".

    Maybe they will never get it.

    In which case rather than trying to change your executive, wouldn't you be better moving on and changing your executive instead?

    James

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    1. James,

      I love your perspective. Great idea!

      Annette :-)

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  3. Hi Annette,
    Are the executives that are skeptical not fans of market research either, I wonder?

    Adrian

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  4. Excellent post Annette. I would like to add a couple:

    1. I've never met an (active) executive who thought that he/she knows better what customers want than the customers. However, I have met many who believe that they know better what customers want than the market researchers. Believes are hard to change regardless of evidence presented.

    2. Selecting the right things to measure (metrics) is very important. It is even more important to link them to company's operational KPI's if you want to speak their language.

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    1. Thanks, Greg. Great additions.

      Annette :-)

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