No customer experience budget? No problem!
As a follow-on to my post earlier this week about companies having no budget for customer experience improvements, I thought I’d compile a few ideas on how to move beyond the “no budget” excuse and make improvements that cost little to nothing.
After reading that last post, did you feel like it was all gloom and doom? Like there wasn’t anything you could do? Not a good feeling when you’re a customer experience professional. It’s your job!
I really do question how companies prioritize their budgets and how they categorize and talk about their improvement efforts.
But not to fear! I am a hopeless optimist! There’s always a way. And I’ll find it! So let’s do this. I’m assuming you’ve built your business case and are either waiting for approvals (and the responsible department is waiting for budget approval) or you’ve all been flat out denied. You did take the time to build the case, right?
How can you make customer experience improvements if your leadership team tells you there’s no budget for said changes?
There are things that you can do that don’t cost any money, just time. And time well spent, at that. Many of them are soft skills, but they can all make a difference to the customer and her experience (and could even save the company money in the long run). I’ll list a few, and I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below on what else we could do/add to the list. There are a lot of folks in this position, and I think it’s a worthwhile discussion/exercise.
- Be friendly, courteous, and professional with your customers
- Write thank you notes/cards
- Answer the phone in a timely manner and with a smile
- Be willing to help
- Know your product so well that you can answer customers’ questions on the first call
- Make simple fixes on your website that make your company easier to do business with
- Make sure your phone number and contact information are easy to find
- Personalize messaging and the experience (may require a financial investment, depending on industry)
- Respond to emails in a timely manner
- Fix things right the first time
There’s a common thread or requirement for each of these: training and education, neither of which should cost you anything but time. Train employees on soft skills and on what it means to deliver a great experience for your customers.
Additionally, companies can:
- Listen to customers (there are low/no-cost approaches to doing this)
- Map the customer journey and fix some of the low-hanging fruit (I realize that’s not ideal and not the recommendation I would ultimately make to a client, but you may find some simple, no-cost fixes that can impact the experience)
- Hire the right employees (those with the right attitude, love customers, etc.)
- Improve the employee experience
- Build an employee-centric culture
- Build a customer-centric, customer-obsessed culture
- Reward, recognize, and appreciate your employees
- Adopt outside-in thinking over inside-out thinking
- Revisit and fix broken or cumbersome processes
- Take a look at policies and procedures and find and fix inefficiencies
I realize that a lot of customer experience improvements include investments in technology and infrastructure, but truthfully, there are a lot of things that companies can do to improve both the employee experience and the customer experience that don’t cost a dime. They just need to do the work and put in the time.
What else would you add to the list above?
A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it. -William Feather