The ROI of Customer Experience: Part 1
Customer experience pros are often tasked with proving the ROI of CX within an organization. Utilizing experience data – or “X-data” – combined with operational data – or “O-data” – can be an effective tool in proving ROI of your CX efforts. Host Steve Walker welcomes guests Troy Powell and Brad Harmon from Walker to discuss the findings in Walker’s new report “Deliver More Value with X- and O-data” and how CX pros can make the case for customer experience.
Troy Powell & Brad Harmon
Connect with Troy
Connect with Brad
Don’t make it an afterthought
Brad: “…that’s really what we’re trying to to accomplish is success on the back end. But what we what we see is that the O-data and the X-data can work in concert so that the you know, if you know more about how your business is managed using O-data, you can then inform what you need to gather from the customer, from the X-data standpoint. And then you have the opportunity to kind of work parallel paths in terms of gathering O-data, gathering your customer feedback data, kind of all in it in one fell swoop so that they can work together and it doesn’t become an afterthought.”
What is “Flipping the script”
Troy: “…what we mean by flipping the script is really starting out with thinking about the operational metrics as the foundation and the experience data, the customer feedback as the supplement, as the thing that fills in the gaps and really starts to help the organization make smarter decisions about new data, which is something they’re looking at all the time.”
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A couple of weeks ago, we talked about making the business case for CX, but do you have the data to back that up?
It gets to how we can unlock additional value from what we're doing. It's nice to know how customers feel about working with a company, but unless you're actually quantifying the impact that you can make and how it can be used to manage your business more effectively, you're really not giving it its due diligence.
Providing the ROI of customer experience with XO data on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients accelerate their XM success. You can find out more at Walkerinfo.com.
Hello, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, host of The CX Leader Podcast and thank you for listening. On The CX Leader Podcast we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of your customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. Today, we're going to continue our discussion on making the case for CX in your organization. Bob Thompson helped start us down this path by outlining his research on best practices to help make the business case for customer experience. And if you missed that episode, be sure to listen to it on our website at cxleaderpodcast.com. Over the next two episodes, we're going to talk about the data, how you can combine the experience data or "X-data" with the operational or "O-data" and prove the ROI for your CX efforts. Well, I get to interview a lot of good guests on The CX Leader Podcast I really get a kick out of it. It's been one of the funniest things I've ever done in my career, but I don't really enjoy it any better than when I get to have a program with my own friends and colleagues from Walker. And so today I'm joined with two of our thought leaders and a couple of gentlemen that have done an awful lot of good work in pioneering the practical application of X and O. For those of you who have listened to the show or who know Walker, I'm sure these will be no stranger to you. Dr. Troy Powell and Brad Harmon, both VPs here at Walker and key members of our advisory services here at Walker are here to discuss their work on "X-" and "O-data" and how you can deliver value. So, Troy. Brad, welcome back to The CX Leader Podcast.
Thanks, Steve. It's always good to be here.
Appreciate the opportunity, Steve. Looking forward to it.
Well, our totally excellent producer, writer, do-everything, Chris Higgins informed me that Brad, this is your fifth appearance on the podcast. And Troy, you have set the record. This will be your eighth appearance on the podcast. However, just keep it real. This is, I think, our 155th podcast that we've done. So, you know, you guys are the leaders, but, you know, there's there's still a lot more podcasts to go. But maybe just for the experience of new listeners, maybe if you could each just introduce yourself a little bit more what you do and what your passion is for CX. Brad, you want to go first?
Sure, Steve. Yeah. So, yeah, I've been with Walker now twenty five years, just celebrated my milestone last month. I have over my career, really gotten a good opportunity to see companies that really do listen and take heedance and guidance from their customers to make what they do more effective. That runs the gamut of technology companies, manufacturing companies, global, almost all of them global companies in nature with very complex business models that do require a lot of peeling back to understand what really drives behavior, what makes customers want to do business with them. And my passions really have been twofold. One is just this, you know, helping clients identify the ways in which they can connect customer feedback to their own success, profitability, growth and so on. And then also, you know, with the complexity of the relationships, looking at the ways other intermediaries play a role. So channel partners, alliance partners, how that factors into how the customer relationships succeed or fail. And so that these are two of my passions that I really get a kick out of and really spend a lot of my time looking into and investigating further.
And Troy, a little bit of your background, just for context, in case folks aren't familiar with you yet.
Sure. So I have been at Walker for 15 years now, so celebrate that milestone recently. And before that, I got a PhD in sociology from Duke University. So I spent a lot of time with the idea of how individuals interact within institutional relationships. And that's kind of the background that I've been bringing into the CX space was was very interesting to me. And, you know, I spent most of my time and strategy, CX strategy and analytics working in those areas for Walker and for our clients and been able to work across a whole bunch of clients. So I get to help out with our delivery of services. I get to leave some engagements and then get to spend some of my time on work creating reports. Looking through what's going on in the CX space, trying to understand what is it that our clients should be doing to get the most out of their CX efforts, really with similar to Brad, with that focus on how do we take this customer data that we're receiving and the customer data we have about their activities and how do we get the most value from that? And at the end of the day, to me, that's how do you help the organization, individual stakeholders all the way up to leadership make the best possible decisions that they can make at any point in time. So that's been a fun ride for me definitely over the last 15 years.
Yeah, you guys do a really nice job of articulating really what the value is. And it just kind of reminds me for folks that are maybe a little bit newer in the in the profession. You know, one of my jokes has been, you know, what we do is not rocket science, but it is science. And, you know, what we do is based in the social sciences and we understand why humans behave in the way they do. And then we use that to actually prescribe ways that companies can, you know, make it better for their customers. And then ultimately those companies will win in the marketplace because they are providing the superior value for the money. And that's, I think, one of the reasons why we all get up every morning and why I think it's a great time to be a CX pro. So, you know, if you're in this industry right now, you should feel very lucky because you're in a good spot at a good time. So our topic today is really helping CX pros communicate the value that they can deliver inside their organization and showing what activities actually are creating a return on the investment that companies are making in their CX program. So, Brad, why don't you start us off and just give us the case for why pros ought to be looking at this and why they should be looking in particular at their X- and O-data?
Yeah, it really it gets to how we can unlock additional value from what we're doing. It's nice to know how customers feel about working with a company, but unless you're actually quantifying the impact that you can make and how it can be used to manage your business more effectively, you're really not giving it's due diligence. And so we you know, to that end, we've kind of created a set of steps that we think would be necessary to get the most out of your customer experience efforts. And it's funny that the thing that really gets overlooked in all of this is what we're calling the O-data, the operational data. Now that can include other things that you know about a customer or the way that they're experiencing you. But in a lot of the work that we do, that that becomes kind of an afterthought. And so the approach that we are prescribing really is to kind of start with the things that, you know, in terms of how you manage your business or how others manage your business and really start with that perspective to help you understand what matters to people, how people use metrics internally to manage the business and what performance thresholds that you establish by which you gauge the effectiveness of your of your processes and your business. If you don't start there, it becomes much more difficult to really get success on the back end. And that's really what we're trying to to accomplish is success on the back end. But what we what we see is that the O-data and the X-data can work in concert so that the you know, if you know more about how your business is managed using O-data, you can then inform what you need to gather from the customer, from the X-data standpoint. And then you have the opportunity to kind of work parallel paths in terms of gathering O-data, gathering your customer feedback data, kind of all in it in one fell swoop so that they can work together and it doesn't become an afterthought. And once you have the data from the O-data perspective and you can look at that and you understand the what's in there, how often you can get it, how it can be aggregated and how it can determine the experience that customers have, then the fun part really starts, in my opinion, is that we have the ability to then look at what data is most important for you to focus on. And by most important sometimes and many times that means most profitable for you to look at and how we should set thresholds for performance based on what matters to the customer. And with that, we can start to drive actions around the organization based off of things that we're able to learn from customer feedback and from the operational data. So a few things that we can do and there's kind of a progression to this is, you know, first thing that we can do is we can start alerting people when something goes a little off off script. So if something happens internally from an operational metrics standpoint, we if we know that that's going to create a negative experience, we can start alerting people before it gets too far down the path. Likewise, we can be looking at customer feedback. And if they give us a negative evaluation on an area that may on the surface be a little innocuous, it can help us to get ahead of problems or really pounce on those problems before it begins to linger with the customer, because we know that that's going to lead to something down the down the wrong path if we don't address it. We can also then personalize the experiences that we offer. We can start to group customers into segments or personas based off of what matters to them and what kinds of level of service they're getting. We can now start to tailor what we offer, what we provide to each customer, so that we ensure that they feel important, that they want to expand the relationship and we know the best way that they can do that and that we can prescribe the best actions to take for a customer based on where they are, what situation they're currently encountering. So to the extent that we can do those kinds of things, then we have the ability to really demonstrate growth, organic growth, new customer growth, cross-selling, all those sorts of things. Lastly, when all of these things kind of work together, we can start to employ some time series analysis to understand if we take this action, what's the effect going to be? How long is it going to take for that effect to be put into place and then what the payoff is going to be so that we can then start to really fine tune our our actions and we can measure the return that we're getting off of different customers, different accounts, different segments under different operating models. And we can make the right recommendations and help make the right decisions for management to take it to the next step. And that's where we can start to really quantify the impact that we have just based off of the combination of operational data and customer feedback, X-data.
Yeah, you give us a really great framework for how to think about it a little bit differently. And, you know, for those of us who've been in the business for for quite some time, I think that's what's really exciting about where we're at today is is now we have such good awareness of, you know, how this X-data can be applied to the O-data. O-data has historically been, you know, much better leveraged. And for those of us that have always been sort of more on the X-data side, it's really kind of rewarding to see that come to fruition.
My guests on the podcast this week are no stranger to frequent podcast listeners. Dr. Troy Powell and Brad Harmon are both VPs and senior leaders here at Walker, and they have combined to put out a new report called "Deliver More Value with X- and O-Data" and you can download it here at the cxleaderpodcast.com website. Troy you sometimes talk about flipping the script, and I think it's a great way to think about it. But just in the context of how Brad set that up, what is flipping the script mean for a CX pro?
Yeah, and I'll give credit where credit's due. Our marketing guru here, Pat Gibbons, kind of coined that phrase and used it in a CRM magazine article that he wrote recently. And I think it's a great way to think about it, because it's really all about how you start. And I think you I'll come back to that probably frequently in some of my comments here because. Start right? It's hard to adjust and adapt as you go and get something that's going to be meaningful and believable. So from my standpoint, the flipping the script is really starting… you know generally when a CX program is starting out or maybe when you're kind of restarting. So you've been doing it for a while and now you want to take a look at it and say, all right, we want to make sure we're doing the right things, expand our reach, etc. But you kind of sit down to that design planning phase with your CX program. And it is almost always just about, you know, what surveys are we running, what surveys should we be running? Where can we be listening more? How can we get more customer feedback through surveys? And that really becomes the focus. And that's critically important. That process, that XM design process is is critical. However, what doesn't usually happen at that stage is this process of going to your internal stakeholders, to those people who are responsible for the operational functioning of your organization and talk to them and ask them and say, what are you tracking? What are the operational metrics that you really focus on that you're using to drive decisions? And what do you wish you knew more from a customer standpoint about those? And what are some of the gaps that you see in the data you're looking at it. And starting from that perspective, one, that gets you this great understanding of what operational metrics are important to your organization. So now you have those and you say we need to start grabbing those and bringing them into our process so we can integrate it. But then it also immediately lets you understand what our stakeholders in the organization really wanting to hear from the customer as opposed to us saying, hey, here's some things that generally get tracked and asked in surveys and then trying to kind of force those on to stakeholders. We can actually say, hey, you said you wanted to know more about, you know, for instance, what customers are thinking about your delivery time and what do they feel when deliveries get changed to a new date and how can that process make it best for them? And the experience and those types of questions that you can then say, hey, we went out and we gather that feedback. Here it is. So that's a little bit of what we mean by flipping the script is really starting out with thinking about the operational metrics as the foundation and the experience data, the customer feedback as the supplement, as the thing that fills in the gaps and really starts to help the organization make smarter decisions about new data, which is something they're looking at all the time.
So this report that's out there and I should have referenced it earlier, but now that people have gotten a little taste from you guys, it might be even a better time to promote it. But the title of the report is "Delivering More Value with X- and O-data" and if folks are interested you can download it at our website, cxleaderpodcast.com. But why don't we get into what was the genesis of doing the report and then start to give us a few ideas about what people can find when they get to the report?
So when we think about just the notion of experience management or XM that we we call it, which is becoming more and more prevalent in the marketplace today, you know, it really necessitated the need to look broader than just, you know, just for instance, just beyond customers, but then also within that thinking of what we have internally already that we have available versus what we have or what we're gathering through feedback efforts, surveys, focus groups, what have you. But I think the big thing that is kind of constant throughout the customer experience industry is the ability to get more value. And to answer the question, well, why should I do this to begin with? And, you know, to that end, the X and O philosophy really does help to tie things together because, you know, every company, regardless of whether they're using customer or an employee feedback, they're managing their business using some kind of metric internally – O-data. And, you know, with that comes a lot of success, but also a lot of baggage. And so we need to be able to, as customer experience professionals, understand how the business is managed, how it's run, and then leverage that information to do a better job with our customer experience efforts not only from gathering feedback, but then also to the actions that we prescribe. So it's really kind of incumbent on us as professionals to be able to take both of those paths, if you will, or data sets and be able to make the most of it without them working together. You're always going to feel a little unfulfilled. At the end of the day, you can only do so much with X-data and you can only do so much with O-data. The combination of the two of them really does make a big difference. And that's where we felt the need to kind of put this out there as as more of an imperative for companies to really be looking at these things together and not siloed them. There's so many silos and businesses as it stands. This is one area that we can't afford for there to be silos, really, if we're going to maximize what we put into into the efforts and see outcomes that we want.
Well, Troy, Brad, there is so much information in this report that we decided we're going to split this into two episodes. And I think that's a good place to leave it for this week. Troy Powell is a vice president of strategy and analytics, and Brad Harmon is a vice president for advisory services both thought leaders were privileged to have here at Walker Troy. Brad, thank you for being a guest on The CX Leader Podcast.
And to you, our listeners, be sure to listen to next week's episode where we'll talk more about how you as a CX professional can start to set the stage for success in using X- and O-data, improving the ROI of your customer experience. If you want to download Walker's new report, "Deliver More Value with X- ad O-data," go to cxleaderpodcast.com/xoreport and you'll find it there. And if you want to talk about anything else you heard on the podcast or anything else that Walker could do to help you with your business's customer experience, feel free to email me here at a firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to check out the website, cxleaderpodcast.com, where you can download the report, but you can also subscribe to our show and find all of our previous episodes and podcast series. You could drop us a note, give us an idea for a future podcast, or just let us know how we're doing or what your interests are. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker. We're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their XM success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thanks for listening and we'll see you again next time.
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Tags: report Steve Walker Brad Harmon Troy Powell XO data ROI