Analysts, consulting firms, SaaS providers and business innovators all agree on one thing: Customer Experience has to be the number one priority for enterprise strategy as we enter 2020 and beyond. Enterprise boards and leadership teams have firstly, learnt the value of the investment in Customer Experience. Secondly, they are investing in extracting this value and providing positive customer-centric experiences for their customers.
Regardless of if it is called digital, Customer Experience, CRM or another buzzword, investment, focus and creation of strong Customer Experience success metrics is at the top of business priorities.
One of the critical challenges with enabling an enterprise-wide Customer Experience platform is that it costs money, takes time and has to be a complete transformation. Of course, something that has a vital benefit to the profitability of a company and substantial strategic shift rarely comes cheaply or at no cost. The benefits of a well-executed Customer Experience investment substantially outweigh the costs in the short term and long term. Sadly many see the price. Even well planned and executed Customer Experience investments can be bought undone with cost trimming, such as forgetting the all-important change management and training issues, or skimping on the SaaS budget.
The world is in the grip of a Black Swan event with the rise of the Corona Virus. From toilet paper hoarding to political decisions, history is not going to judge that well some of the behaviours seen to date as a result of the severe threat of the virus.
Every day brings reactions and responses from consumers, governments and enterprises. As highlighted, some rational and measured, far too many hysterical and, well frankly, hindsight will not be friendly.
We have seen enterprises slash travel due to health concerns. Every day another major event is cancelled. This reflects concerns of employees and stakeholders. We have seen enterprises slash new spending and delay investment, again, not an illogical short term consideration.
In some discussions with companies, large and small, public and private, there is a growing concern that the CFO is using the Corona Virus event as a cover for more dramatic cost-cutting. Please note, I have friends who are CFO’s, nor do I bear the role any grudges. They are not all group thinkers with a plan to slash costs for employees. Just some of them.
What is high on the list for the budget chop? Investment in technology and investment in customer experience. Even 5% cuts to a budget can have a profound impact on the execution of the initiative, particularly if it is relating to training, or selecting the best approach forward for theist business outcome. Let’s face it, for something as fundamental as Customer Experience; there is no right place to cut a lean well-considered program. The risk of budget cuts for Customer Experience investments and applications must be fought on facts and supported business plans. Enterprises and agencies must be able to quantify the return on investment, the increased stakeholder value and other measurable benefits of an investment in Customer Experience. Provide specific proof points. Benchmark the benefits of investment vs the costs of failing to invest. It is not easy to do, but unfortunately, it is essential to roll against the natural tendency of many CFO’s to cut at the first sign of trouble. I have always been a great believer in spending money to make money, not reducing costs to make money. Customer Experience has to ensure that it is in the former position within the enterprise, not the latter.
The impact of the changes wrought on the economy and how we used to do business just a few short days ago means that in fact investments in reaching, engaging and satisfying customers today are even more critical now than they have ever been. No excuse, no shortcuts in a world where foot traffic for retail is significantly reduced, people are not willing to travel, or changing consumption of communication tools is happening every day. Again, no shortcuts and measurable business outcomes.
While Customer Experience remains a major investment priority for virtually every enterprise and government agency, an event like the Corona Virus is a significant shift in business dynamics. It is not just impacting the travel industry, it is now touching virtually every industry, and some predictions may be overly dire, it is still a massive task to return to business as usual. A risk of this seismic change is that crucial projects and budgets will be cut. Business and IT alike have to work together to ensure that Customer Experience investments are not only made as planned but potentially fast-tracked. Do not allow for your organisations to take short cuts, remove programs or otherwise diminish the opportunity to raise the Customer Experience during the current crisis (or any future issues for that matter).
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