“We’ve all seen those studies where it says a one-point increase of CSAT equals this revenue, but to a Commercial Officer, a CEO, or a CFO, this doesn’t sound real. So it doesn’t put CX in a credible position. We need to prove this based on our own data: ‘These are the scores for the past year, and this is the revenue or the growth in revenue and the growth and shipments for these exact countries. And this is what it looks like. This is the correlation between the revenue and customer satisfaction and NPS.’” – 2020 interview participant
I bet that like me, you love to read research that shows that CX pays. Luckily for both of us, there’s plenty of industry data on the topic. The most compelling is Watermark Consulting’s tracking of stock prices.
They simulated purchasing the stock of CX Leaders (the ten top-performing companies on annual CX studies) and compared them with Laggards (the bottom ten), and the S&P 500. Every year they “sold” last year’s Leaders and Laggards and “bought” this year’s, based on the new index rankings.
The result? Leaders outpaced the market, while Laggards returned less than half the value of the S&P 500.
It’s cool to show the impact that CX can have for a company, and this is a great study. It’s also one that CX leaders love to quote, along with other studies that show improved customer experience leads to increased revenue and a decrease in future cost of sales.
There’s only one problem: Your CEO doesn’t care.
Because these are all general studies across many industries. None of them prove that there’s any value in customer experience at your company. As one of our interviewees argued above, CEOs won’t invest because of cross-industry studies. Even trying to make that argument will hurt your cause.
Leaders want to know how improving outcomes for your customers will help your business.
At industry conferences, I consistently hear that leadership doesn’t care about the customer experience. That’s simply not true – and if you believe it, you’re fooling yourself.
Leadership cares deeply about the customer experience.
It’s just that they also care about profitability, operational dependency, and brand image. And Finance, Operations, and Marketing have all done a better job than CX of showing how their work impacts the organization.
Here’s a hard truth: If you’re stuck with leadership that you believe doesn’t get it, it’s time to look in the mirror. Because odds are that it’s you who is failing to paint a compelling story that connects your work in CX to a healthier business.
If that shoe fits (especially if the fit is uncomfortable!), here are three ways to create a CX case study that will earn you positive, important facetime with executives.
Retention equals money in any playbook, so linking your work to retention is one of the easiest ways to show impact, especially when you pair this with the best steps to increase survey scores – and retention – even further.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to create this connection. Retention just isn’t the right metric for some experiences. Customers may be trapped or under long-term contracts, which limit turnover. Or your survey score may not actually be predictive.
We worked with an annuity provider that was corporately mandated to use the Net Promoter Score. When we asked their customers whether they would recommend our client to a friend, the scores were very low. Participants commented, “I don’t talk about annuity companies with my friends.” The noise in the survey overwhelmed any predictive abilities.
In a case like that, you need a different approach:
One of the cool things about CX is that customer pain and organizational cost are often highly correlated.
One of our clients spends $2,000 per day answering billing questions. This annoys customers and executives alike. Identifying and improving the top causes can create an amazing case study, and, depending on your tools, may even be accomplished for free. If you have a post-call survey, good call-type recording, and the ability to query and listen to calls, you have a good shot at creating impact.
Even a 10% improvement equates to $75,000 in annual savings, plus retention will improve through annoying your customers less.
Cost savings is typically the fastest way to create a CX case study. Of course, this does require stepping away from Qualtrics and spending time in the contact center!
Another way to create a compelling case study is to bring your executives to the customer, capture their reactions, and use this to drive change.
We once worked with an eager client who proudly proclaimed, “I’m going to go to every customer visit myself!”
I told her it was a terrible idea.
Her enthusiasm was welcome, but customer visits are a scarce resource. Hogging them might be fun, and it might even seem like a good idea not to “bother” your executives with this task. But your best bet for driving change is to expose them to the customer experience themselves.
This is what Hydro Quebec did, and it won them the North America CX Award last year. They brought their executives to the contact center, put them on calls, and then captured the energy to drive CX change.
It’s also what our client ended up doing. She still attended all our customer interviews, but she also guided her executives to attend, then debriefed with them afterward. This not only gave her critical facetime with her executives, she used the experience to encourage them to act on their findings and coordinate results across the C-suite to ensure alignment.
This “case study” also showcased her drive to improve the customer experience, and provided successes she could cite in talking with other executives.
As you can see, once you recognize why your third-party studies aren’t cutting it, you have multiple (better!) options for creating richer, more impactful CX case studies of your own.
Creating impact requires linking your work to what your executives care about – growth, cost savings, and customer engagement in your company – then sharing a compelling story about how your work is moving the needle.
That’s the data that will turn the right heads in your direction.