Tuesday, March 14, 2017

CX Journey™ Musings: No Budget for #CX Improvements

Image courtesy of aliceheiman
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don’t have the necessary budget to invest in the technology to improve experiences, whilst 48% say they are hampered by outdated technology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?

We must consult our means rather than our wishes. -George Washington


  1. In my experience, you can often find the root cause by seeing these budget requests through the eyes of executives.

    The CX professional (or operational leader) might request money to invest in improving the customer experience, but the executive often hears "I'd like to spend more money without a clear way to achieve a return on that investment."

    Put that way, those plans are often shot down.

    On the other hand, CX pros can improve their success if they put their request in true investment terms. How will the proposed investment save money? Improve efficiency? Increase customer loyalty?

    This won't guarantee success, but it will definitely improve your chances!

    1. Totally agree, Jeff. Thanks for calling out both of these perspectives. Great lesson to be learned.

  2. Jeff it's like you were reading my mind.

    CX specialists need to take responsibility for demonstrating the financial ROI for their projects.

    When they invest in upgrading the delivery fleet, Operations show how it will save millions in operating costs over three years. They don’t tell the CEO “but customers are important so we really, really, should invest.”

    Often it not easy to create those business cases but it is possible and done properly senior management will always find money for positive ROI proposals.

    Adam Ramshaw

    1. ROI is everyone's favorite word. I think part of the problem is that they aren't able to demonstrate financial ROI because they don't have access to all of the data to be able to do that. I'm sure there are other reasons, as well.

      Agree with your assessment, though. Thanks, Adam.