By Swati Sahai
The importance of calculating your customer experience ROI cannot be overstated—how will you build, measure and regularly optimize your customer experience efforts if you don’t know the return on your CX investments?
Customer experience leaders often face hurdles in budget approval because customer experience ROI has not been forecasted or quantitatively expressed. All the time and effort spent in designing a modern, responsive customer experience program can go to waste if you are not able to articulate in numbers the value that it will bring to your organization.
In a recent customer journey management and CX measurement survey, 49% of CX leaders reported that they are not satisfied with their ability to quantify the impact of CX on business metrics and outcomes. The survey also found that less than one-third of CX pros attained budget increases from 2019 to 2020.
In order to put CX initiatives on a level-footing with other business programs, it isn’t enough to simply provide the soft benefits. You need the quantitative ROI to make a strong business case and obtain approval for continued investment.
In this post, I’ll walk through a detailed example to illustrate the steps needed to calculate your customer experience returns, costs and ROI, and how to use this ROI to build a successful CX program.
Customer Experience ROI = 100 x (Benefits – Investments) / Investments
2 Steps to Calculate Customer Experience Benefits
Measuring benefits or returns is the toughest part of the ROI calculation and the reason why most CX practitioners avoid ROI calculation. This is because it requires that you calculate the impact of customer experience changes on the hard quantitative metrics your business is measured by.
Follow the two steps below to calculate CX benefits:
Step 1. Choose the Business Metrics Most Impacted by Customer Experience
Investing in customer experience is of paramount importance today and has several quantifiable benefits. The key, however, is to choose the business metrics that are best suited to your particular industry and business.
Here’s a list of business metrics most commonly used for customer experience ROI calculation:
Top-line revenue is the most common business metric to consider. A recent Forrester study found that the revenue of CX leaders outgrew the revenue of their CX laggard competitors by 5 to 1.
Another data point for the revenue impact of CX comes from the Forrester Customer Experience Index (CX Index™). An analysis of this index showed that the biggest companies in certain industries can earn up to hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue for every one point of increase in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™).
Improving customer experience has a direct impact on increasing customer retention and reducing churn. With the low cost of switching, most customers are quick to move to competitors when they have a poor experience. However, they also reward good customer experience with continued loyalty.
As per Forrester, customers who have a high-quality experience are 2.7 times more likely to keep doing business with a brand than customers who have a low-quality experience.
Here is how to calculate the impact of increased retention:
Financial Services firm ‘X’ is trying to increase retention by improving customer experience.
For the purposes of this illustration, I have assumed no new sales in Year 1 or Year 2. The table above shows how a lift of 10% in retention leads to a revenue increase of $105 million for this financial services firm.
Customers who are delighted with their experience spend more with a business by buying additional products and services. They enjoy interacting with your company and keep coming back for more.
Using the same financial services example, we can illustrate the revenue impact of cross-sell and upsell as follows:
Measuring the revenue impact of increased customer satisfaction is the hardest part of the customer experience ROI calculation. Businesses are used to thinking of customer satisfaction as a warm, fuzzy concept that is hard to quantitatively pin down.
But, the revenue impact of customer satisfaction can and must be measured.
Use your key customer satisfaction metric (NPS®, CSAT or another) for this calculation. Determine what a 1-point increase in Net Promoter Score or CSAT is worth in terms of additional sales or improved customer retention.
That number is the revenue impact of increased customer satisfaction.
Improving customer experience has a direct impact on reducing the cost to serve customers as it results in streamlined processes, a reduced volume of calls to the customer care center and efficiencies from understanding the end-to-end customer journey.
Let me explain through the example of a retail bank ‘A’:
Bank ‘A’ receives 4 million calls annually in its customer care center, accounting for a huge chunk of its total expenditure. Using customer journey analytics and call center data, bank A realized that 15% of the calls were about problems that could have been easily resolved through customer self-service, such as how to set up a fraud alert on the bank’s mobile app.
Bank A has, therefore, correctly assumed that by providing more self-service options and improving the user experience on mobile apps, as well as improving call handling, they can substantially reduce the call center cost.
Step 2. Use Customer Journey Analytics to Show the Link Between These Business Metrics and Customer Experience
Choosing the right business metrics and calculating their quantitative impact is a crucial and difficult first step. Pat yourself on the back for successfully conquering it!
But how do you know for sure that these business metrics were impacted by customer experience?
To prove this correlation definitively, you need to employ customer journey analytics.
Identify Drivers of Customer Behavior
In order to show the link between CX metrics and customer experience, you have to first discover how customer experience drives changes in customer behavior. Customer journey analytics solutions can do this in a way that no other tool can.
It can do so without annoying your customers after every interaction (while taking into account any survey results that you already have). Moreover, it provides results based on the end-to-end customer journey for your entire customer base, something that no survey can ever achieve.
Not all customers are alike. Some bring much higher revenue while others may be strategically important. It is important to identify these important customers and focus your CX investments and efforts on them. Relying on data provided by customer experience metrics, such as Net Promoters and Net Detractors obtained by NPS, is inaccurate and insufficient for segmentation.
Instead, segment your customers behaviorally using customer journey analytics.
Discover the Impact of Customer Experience on Business Metrics
Using customer journey analytics, you can discover how your customer interacts with your business, how his behavior changes based on customer experience and how your business metrics are ultimately impacted because of this changed behavior.
3 Steps to Calculate Customer Experience Investment
Now that you have done the heavy lifting of calculating customer experience benefits (returns), it is time for the customer experience investments that will be required to achieve those benefits.
Follow the three steps below to systematically calculate your customer experience investments.
Step 1. Plan Which Investments Are Required
Investment in Training
Improving customer experience in large enterprises is impossible to achieve without investing in training. This could take the form of re-training existing staff or training new staff.
Regular re-training is particularly important for your call center employees (Read: How to Improve First Call Resolution, Reduce Call Volume & Accelerate Self-Help)
The first level of call center agent training should focus on the company’s product and services so that new agents are thoroughly equipped to answer any query related to a product/service without needing expert assistance. Having a product knowledge base handy often helps.
Cross-train agents on the functions of other teams or departments, so they are better equipped to navigate a complex issue and connect a customer with the right resources as quickly as possible.
Similarly, training agents to isolate and get to the core of the problem is essential.
Investment in Technology/Tools
Improvements to customer experience often require upgrades to your technology infrastructure, which sometimes require large investments. Systems that may need improvement include database management systems, CRM systems, analytics tools, and self-service applications among others. As an example, many customer experience teams are investing in speech analytics and text analytics tools to enhance their customer data measurement capabilities.
Investment in Operating Costs
Operating costs for customer experience include building and operating new mobile apps and websites, costs for running new and improved VoC surveys, the cost for cultural transformation to make your organization more customer-centric, and ongoing salary and support costs.
Step 2. Build a Timeline for CX Investments
It is important for CX leaders to forecast a timeline for when each of these planned investments will take place. The costs for customer experience investments are huge in large enterprises and are typically staggered over a few years.
Step 3. Build Cost Estimates for Investments
Now it’s time to build cost estimates for each planned customer experience investment. Use past expenditure to benchmark future costs in areas like training. Choose the partners or service providers best suited for your customer experience needs and get an accurate estimate of future expenditure.
Example: Calculate Customer Experience ROI for a Retail Bank
Putting together all the steps above, let’s calculate customer experience ROI.
To illustrate this, I will go back to the hypothetical example of Financial Services Firm X.
Customer Experience ROI % = 100 x (Benefits – Investments)/Investments
How to Use Customer Experience ROI to Build a Successful CX Program
1. Prioritize CX Investments Based on Company Goals
By calculating customer experience ROI, you have taken a big step towards getting budget approval for your cx investments. Be sure to prioritize them not only in order of customer experience team goals but also the goals of the company as a whole.
Interview top executives, attend town-hall meetings and comb through important documents like annual reports to ensure you are aligned with the key metrics and goals that matter for your business. Only then will you build a successful customer experience program that will be evangelized by key people in the company.
2. Emphasize the Cost of Inaction
Not improving customer experience (and therefore not investing in it) is no longer an option for most businesses. In an environment where customer expectations are rapidly rising and it’s easier than ever to switch to another brand or provider, the cost of inaction is tremendous, mostly by way of customer churn.
3. Identify Quick Wins to Demonstrate Success
Use the customer experience ROI calculation to identify quick wins which will demonstrate early success. Nothing works like showing what improved customer experience looks like! This will help in bolstering the profile of your CX program within the organization and go a long way in winning advocates and continued budget.
4. Measure and Track Customer Experience ROI Over Time
It is important to take a long term view when measuring customer experience ROI as both the returns and investments accrue over a period of time.
Calculating predicted ROI is good, but remember to keep measuring customer experience ROI over time to ensure that benefits and ROI are developing in line with expectations. This will help you make adjustments in your customer experience program as needed.
Employ Customer Journey Analytics to Quantify the ROI of CX Initiatives
One of the largest telecom providers in the US uses Pointillist to gauge the success of a new appointment system.
The customer care team invested in an automated appointment system to improve the customer service experience and reduce costs from canceled truck rolls.
To gauge the success of the new system, they need to measure its effect on NPS, call volume and the number of customers that aren’t home when the technician arrives at their home.
The care team uses Pointillist to assess the impact the automated appointment system has on NPS, call volume, and customers that are not at home for a scheduled appointment. They determine that the automated system leads to an increase in NPS by 5 points and a 75% reduction in the ‘No Show’ rate.
To realize the benefits of improved customer experience like retention, revenue growth, and customer satisfaction, it is essential to quantitatively measure customer experience ROI. This will ensure that you get the necessary budget to make the investments in CX to build a successful program. The detailed quantitative steps provided in this post above will help you calculate the ROI and track it over a long period of time.
Are you measuring customer experience ROI in your organization? Share your experience in the comments below.
Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.