The weight of evidence about the impact of customer satisfaction and employee engagement on financial performance, trust, reputation and productivity will help you get the attention of senior executives and decision-makers in your organisation. But if you are successfully to make the case to invest in, or protect investment in service you will also need to articulate the benefits to your organisation in terms that align to the priorities of your organisation’s decision-makers. This is likely to mean creating a business case that demonstrates the financial return of your proposal, in terms of improved customer retention, revenue generation or cost savings. We have set out the key steps you need to consider in making your case.
- Identify the key decision-makers whom you need to convince and consider their concerns and priorities
For example, what is the relative importance they give to customer retention, generating new revenues, cost savings, protecting or improving the organisation’s reputation?
- Engage with your organisation’s finance team
Engaging and seeking input from finance colleagues will help you create a sound and credible case and anticipate challenges or questions. Input from finance can be particularly helpful in articulating costs and benefits, setting timeframes and creating a realistic forecast of the impact of your proposal.
It is probable that senior decision-makers in your organisations are highly focused on financial objectives and impacts. Engaging with your finance will help you position your case with credibility and in terms that are relevant to your audience.
- Define the scope of activity by describing the problem or opportunity that you will address
Wherever appropriate use customer or competitor insight to support your rationale. A problem or opportunity statement should cover a concise and specific description of the problem, its causes and impacts, how you propose to address it and the benefits to the organisation.
- Demonstrate the rationale you have used to prioritise activity, for example:
- Evidence of its importance to customers
- Impact on customer retention, revenue generation or cost reduction
- Relative speed of ease of implementation
- Identify the specific activities that will contribute to your overall goal. For each activity, set a lead measure that will tell you how effective your action is and provide early warning about impact on your overall goal. For example, if you make the case that cutting repair times will save costs or help you retain customers, you would need to measure the number or repairs successfully completed within designated timescales. Identify the return on investment that you aim to achieve, in terms of customer satisfaction, customer retention, incremental revenue growth or reduced costs. Make a forecast about the incremental impact of the activities you propose The purpose of the forecast is show the difference your proposed activities will make to your organisation’s performance. There are a number of different ways you can approach this:
|“Before and after” evaluation
|Define the timescale in which your proposal will make an impact and compare performance with a previous period, for example the same period during the previous financial year
|One way of testing new initiatives before committing resources to a large scale rollout is to implement them in pilot conditions to test impact and modify if necessary
|New contracts / renewals
|For B2B organisations in particular, customer service can help establish a reputation which contributes to renewal of existing contracts and winning new contracts
One potential way of assessing this is to ask new or renewing clients, in the course of business reviews, the proportionate weighting of the organisation’s customer service in their
|Examples include lower costs and overheads achieved through a reduction in problems, complaints or multiple handling
|Customer spend over time
|If your objective is to grow revenue by encouraging customers to take additional products or services, set a timeframe to track spend levels.
- Set a realistic timescale
Define a realistic timeframe in which you expect to see impact of your proposed activities on business performance. You may have prioritised activities that make a short-term impact. Or, your proposal may focus on activities which create a larger but longer term impact. Our research suggests that most customer experience activities would be expected to demonstrate impact within 3 to 12 months.
- Evaluate costs
Include an assessment of the costs of activities that you propose. This assessment should consider the amount of time spent by employees, incremental costs with suppliers, cost or resources or material. When considering the cost of employees’ time, make a distinction between new costs (for example hiring new permanent or temporary employees) and existing costs ie current employees whose time will not incur new cost. You should consider “opportunity cost” if an employee spends time on an initiative you have proposed, will there be any impact caused by reallocating their time from other activities or opportunities.
A thorough evaluation of costs will enable you to determine the overall value of your proposal and the amount of revenue you need to generate or retain to make a credible case.
- Consider the range of factors that might influence impacts of your proposal
It is possible that the impact of activities you implement might be influenced by a range of factors eternal to or insider your organisation. For example, adverse weather conditions, competitor activity or price promotions introduced to your organisations could either hamper or enhance effectiveness of measures you take.
In the current context, the Covid-19 crisis is likely to be a significant potential factor. You should consider scenarios how the evolving Covid-19 environment will affect the context of activities you initiate. For example, will Covid-19 result in ongoing changes in customer demand, increased costs for your organisation or require changes in the way you deliver service ? The challenges created by the crisis may even strengthen the case for investing in service but need to be acknowledged and addressed in your proposal.
- Set our the business risk if your proposal is not implemented
If you are making a case to invest in service, it may be appropriate to remind your audience that taking no action or failing to invest may itself be a risk. In order to make this argument with credibility you will need to spell out your assumptions about the potential impacts on customer satisfaction, revenue retention or generation or productivity.
For more tips on this see How to define and measure the return on investment of customer service