At first glance many would assume that with a CFO background I wouldn’t have the right traits to be responsible for a customer experience management program. After all, customer experience is about people while finance is about numbers. Customer experience deals with emotions while finance involves facts. However, here I am today doing just that. I sit in front of customers and prospects weekly helping them answer the question, “I know it is right to invest in our customer experience, but how do I justify the economic value to my stakeholders?”

My financial background blended with my customer experience knowledge and helps me attribute specific value to their business problems. In my role I lead processes for:

  • Trends identified through reporting that can be applied to solve real business issues
  • Customer-focused, customer-lead benchmarks and measurements against goals with a definable, measurable ROI attached
  • Honest sales processes that practice what they preach and are not afraid to walk away from a situation if value cannot be delivered

I am not saying it is easy. In a solution game where by its very definition we are focused on ‘soft dollar impacts’ like saving time, searching for information, finding what we need fast versus finding hard ROI examples and defining them credibly is a challenge. However, when you find that right situation—when the need is real, when the customer knows they have a need and believes in the measurement of improvement—it is then that you know you truly enjoy what you do and a ‘win-win’ isn’t just a cliché.

Most often the value of search-based success is in findability. Companies, especially companies that have annual revenues exceeding a billion per year, already have the answers—they simply cannot find them. The problem may be cultural more than technical; the very DNA of the organization is often a main reason the right answer can’t find their customer, but with the right technology in place, with the best practices-based processes around it, with good people focused at the target of improvement, findability can be turned from a liability into an asset.

In proving the value of finadability in a customer experience setting, a finance-based mind finds its playground. Attributes of what drives a company to succeed are everywhere in this Rubix cube of possibilities, such as:

  • Talking to the front lines that deal with the customer’s customer. What are their needs? How do you solve what they are looking for? What gets in your way to finding the right answers for them?
  • Measuring the impact of what that improvement may look like. What if you held them on the phone for an extra one minute to present an add-on upsell? What if the total time of the call reduced, even with this extra revenue opportunity?
  • Enabling a team to meet its goals, even beyond what they imagine can be done. Mobile access to real-time information about an account in the hands of a sales person as they walk into an appointment ensures fewer surprises—and maybe just one additional sale per year, per Rep—which has a game changing impact.

It isn’t hard for any executive to picture these improvements. The magic is when it is translated into bottom line impact, validated in conjunction with their teams, their customers, and their trusted internal advisors up front. When it’s followed-up on, vetted, measured, re-estimated, and then included in the budget for the following year based on quantifiable results, the magic heightens.

The intersection of finance-type metrics with explosive sales-based results is the intersection where value lives. This is the thing that excites any results-driven CFO and what led me to customer experience management and thus began my journey.

Do these measurements align with your own strategic planning? Does your organization use other metrics to justify spend on the customer experience?