Problem 8: CX Programs Don’t Generate Results

Problem 8: CX Programs Don’t Generate Results

Having a plan is critical to CX success. Project management skills are important.

Our research suggests that only 5% of CX programs generate results in line with expected business outcomes. That percentage is higher when expectations are lower (the “just run a program” approach), a result which is pretty much beside the point. If you aren’t seeking a serious business outcome, why bother?

Some believe that the above is an indictment of the whole concept of CX. Yet CX also enjoys a strong reputation as ‘mission critical’. The gap in all this is between importance and execution.

We see several likely culprits.

“Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”


First, misallocation of resources

CX budgets typically devote most time and most bucks to data collection. In previous installments of this series, we have argued that data quality is very low in CX programs which depend on surveys. We did not mention one specific problem with survey-based execution: lots of moving parts.

Surveys are error-prone, high-maintenance efforts, even when ‘fully automated’. There is a constant need to update respondent datasets, to manage outsourcing efforts, and to corral internal resources. Program teams estimate that 80% of their time is devoted to basic data collection. We infer that programs are underfunded, that funds are misallocated, or both.

Our research suggests that only 5% of CX programs generate results in line with expected business outcomes

Beyond the expenses of collecting data, remarkably little planning and execution dollars are invested downstream. That’s the part where we gain insights, support decision making (at both executive and individual level) and implement change-management processes. Our conservative estimate is that 60% – 75% of the total project budget and effort should go to such tasks.

Why such a mismatch?

Underplanning, or lack of planning?

You know this logic: ask for too much, risk getting nothing, so play safe. You end up asking for less than you actually need. You will under-deliver. Rinse and repeat.

Many projects don’t adequately budget – or plan, for that matter. The apparently reasonable concern is that an ask for a sufficient budget will put management off funding the program at all.

It’s understandable but faulty logic. If the alternative is running an ineffective program, then not running a program is the better move. In CX, you may ask customers what you should improve. If you then do nothing with their answers, your undertaking risks being highly counterproductive.

The other side of the coin is that presenting a proper plan and funding model requires a clear argument for economic / financial outcomes. Many CX project leaders are reluctant to go there. In our opinion, you must face up to true costs and sign up for real benefits. As a planning philosophy it separates the successful from the could-have-been.

Many change initiative leaders learn the hard way that internal teams must educate management around the costs and benefits of real CX. If leadership sees CX as “that survey we send out” then, not surprisingly, they will fund at a surveying level. It may seem odd that management believes transformative outcomes can be achieved by surveying alone. Just don’t assume that they think otherwise.

If you want transformative CX change, present a strong, credible, brave CX plan.

 Read the next problem Problem 9: Post-Rationalization Comes Way Too Late.



OCX Cognition delivers the future of NPS. We ensure customer experience success by combining technology and data science with programmatic consulting. In our Insights section, we present a comprehensive and evolving collection of resources based on our research and expertise, collected for CX leaders committed to delivering business outcomes.