High Time to Shift to Data-Driven CX

The best CX is informed by data. It’s one of the hard truths learned from years in sales and customer experience.

According to Merriam-Webster, squishy refers to something that is “soft, yielding, and usually damp,” which perfectly describes my dog’s chew toys after a few minutes of play. Within the world of customer experience (CX) and customer success (CS), however, I use the term squishy to describe a team that operates on the basis of intuition or assumed best practices, not hard evidence.

Lacking a data-driven approach, many CX leaders are reactive rather than strategic, cannot identify high-value vs. low-value activities, do not know how specific activities correlate to leading indicators or lagging outcomes, and (therefore) cannot demonstrate the true value of CX to their own executives and boards.

In my experience as a CX leader, you must be able to show — confidently and with conviction — that your team is strategic and metrics-driven. You must demonstrate that you are not merely firefighters, but the chief navigators who steer customers on their value journey: leading them to renew, leading them to expand and turning them into advocates who help bring in those new logos. And you prove this by connecting the statistical dots from your team’s activities to leading indicators to lagging outcomes.

Wanted: A Data-Driven Mindset

Many of my views toward CX were shaped during my “previous life” in sales, which has long relied on a standardized set of metrics — bookings targets, conversion rates and other productivity numbers — by which reps earn the respect and trust of CFOs and CROs. Historically, CX and CS leaders have not used the kinds of metrics-based business tracks that other revenue leaders employ to justify their activities and construct narratives that assign them credit for their good work.

This needs to change.

We need to adopt a new mindset — one that puts more focus on value propositions, objection handling, managing difficult customer conversations, and multi-threading, as well as understanding and delivering on customers’ desired business outcomes.

This mindset is as relevant to CX and CS managers as it is to sales reps because CX is a major growth engine for your business. You may have more revenue in your install base than your bookings target for the year, and a big piece of that revenue consists of expansion dollars. Because it’s a part of your go-to-market organization, every CX employee will benefit from learning the fundamental skill sets and techniques in which your salespeople are trained.

That’s why I ensure that our sales and CX organizations go through most of the same training, including “Challenger Sales training,” value selling and delivery methodology and objection handling. It’s important that both teams are aligned in terms of the conversations and outcomes they are discussing with customers. It starts in pre-sales and carries all the way through the entire customer journey.

Related Article: How to Ace Customer Experience Leadership in Year 1

Build Up Your Support Function

To ensure that CX functions as a growth engine, it’s important that you build up customer support. If not, CX could become bogged down in firefighting, devoting far too many resources to escalations and other issues it inherits from support.

Happily, I’m starting to see some progressive support organizations lead into CX by providing more documentation and building out self-service options. And these options don’t always involve ticket management. Often, they involve developing a knowledge base for customers, helping them to scale and ensuring that they really benefit from new and enhanced self-service offerings. For this reason, many organizations offer a paid support option, such as Premier Support, to provide a higher level of support — one that often includes shorter SLAs, a named support representative, and 24/5 or 24/7 support.

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