Customer Experience Budgets GROW in 2010 – Are You Investing Wisely?

by Jeannie Walters

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“As the economy rebounds, companies need to invest in their customer experience or risk falling behind in meeting customers’ ever-changing expectations. Their budgets should balance projects that fix problems with the current experience and those that seek to innovate experiences above and beyond customers’ current expectations.” ~ from the Executive Summary of the Forrester report: Customer Experience Spending Will Rise In 2010, More Firms Plan To Grow The Customer Experience Budget Than Cut It by Megan Burns with Bruce D. Temkin, William Chu, Shelby Catino

I challenge you to think about that. “Customers’ ever-changing expectations.”

This report came out earlier this year. We’re now half-way through 2010.

If expectations are constantly changing, being aware of how you invest those increased experience dollars is key. After working with many companies on experience initiatives, I’ve seen several patterns of investing in a long-term goal that was doomed to never keep up with customer expectations. Here are a few thoughts on ways to use caution and ways to invest wisely.

Improve Call Center Process over People

Investing in the right people for the right jobs will serve you much better than investing in processes made to help the wrong people do jobs they were never meant for. Judgement is an enormous part of responding to customers. Hire the right staff and the processes will evolve out of desire for more efficiency, not need for less ineptitude.

We Should Be on <Twitter/Foursquare/YouTube>!

I’m a huge advocate of social media. (A recent client found me via Twitter.) But investing in social media as part of the customer experience without a strategy and process to back it up is like jumping into the pool without knowing how to swim. If your customer experience stinks, social media will only help if you are there to fix things, not just “be there.” Nestle had to learn this lesson recently, and BP continues to struggle with it. Don’t wait to get involved, but don’t get involved without a way to really respond to customers through these channels.

Let’s Map It!

This is another area where I advocate the premise. Mapping your customer experience is a great way to truly understand the reality of your customers’ situation every day. But here’s the way this investment can come up short – the map only works if you know where it’s taking you. A lot of consultants will take your money to map the customer experience and then leave it to you to figure out what to do with it. The problem with this is no actionable next step. The map can only work if you are committed (emotionally, financially and otherwise) to follow through on recommendations and learnings.

As the economy gets better, companies will be more likely to invest in customer experience initiatives –HURRAH!

Many will invest in recovering from poor starting places instead of investing wisely in proactive initiatives – BOO!

So let’s invest wisely, ok?

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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