Expert InterviewsPodcasts

Cracking CX success and customer experience ROI: interview with Michelle Morris – E80

By April 16, 2020 No Comments
Seasoned CX leader and Customer Experience Design Partner with Verizon Business Group, Michelle Morris, shares insights from her rich and varied career in customer experience. Michelle helped shape one of the earliest formalized customer experience organizations in corporate America and has led CX teams at global brands from across a diverse array of industries. Michelle and show host, Julia, dive into the critical success factors for making CX change “stick”, approaches for calculating the ROI of CX including what Michelle calls the “4-R model”, and some ideas for those who are interested in pursuing a career in CX.  If you’re looking for some insight, inspiration and practical advice from an acclaimed CX leader who has been working in this field about as long as anyone can say they have, then this episode is for you.

Expert insights

Michelle is a Customer Experience Design Partner with Verizon Business Group.  In this role, she helps Verizon’s business customers create better customer experiences for their customers. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) as well as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (LSSBB). Prior to joining Verizon, she led multiple CX organizations and has received many awards for her work in CX, including the esteemed CX Impact Award for Outstanding Practitioner in 2014, as well as the CX Innovation Award for her unique work titled, Pay It Forward – Improvements in CX through Employee Engagement. Her work has been cited in more than 20 industry publications including a featured case study by Forrester, “The CX Transformation Success Secrets of Crowe”, May 22, 2019. Michelle is currently serving as a board member for the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) board since January of 2020. Although her passion today is in Customer Experience, her roots as a Chemical Engineer with 6 patents adds innovation, creativity and passion to her work.

Michelle Morris, CCXP

Michelle has been working in CX roles just about as long as anyone can say that they have. She established the CX organization at the laser printing and imaging company Lexmark in 2008, and went on to do award winning work at the accounting firm Crowe before moving to Verizon. It’s a pleasure to hear insights from someone who has been leading formalized CX teams for as long as Michelle has. If you’d like to learn more about Michelle’s work, be sure to follow her on LinkedIn, where she often shares insights about customer experience, the CXPA, and much more.

The key to customer-centric transformation

During her career, Michelle has seen the field of CX evolve, but the foundational critical success factors for meaningful CX change have remained a constant. CX transformation is still a lengthy process for most large or established businesses, and Michelle cited leadership support as one of three critically important components for the success of customer-centric transformation.

If your CEO, your board or the leadership of your company isn’t really investing and caring about customer experience, then you’re beating your head against a wall because you’re not going to make a lot of progress.

Michelle added that it’s possible to win over the hearts and minds of senior leaders, but that it can be incredibly time consuming. If embarking on a campaign to win hearts and minds, CX leaders need to bring in solid change management principles and understand what motivates leaders. Also, don’t underestimate the power of a little peer pressure to help rally unified support.

Michelle highlighted grassroots support for CX as a second key success factor. Everyone in the organization needs to believe in the mission that the organization is there to create great experiences for customers. Communication and employee education can be effective ways to get the message across, but there should also be mechanisms to engage employees and reinforce the right behaviors. While at Crowe, Michelle’s team developed the award winning “Pay it Forward” campaign, which enabled client-facing team members to recognize others within the value chain who contributed to client outcomes. These types of efforts reinforce messaging and keep CX top of mind for the broader organization.

Finally, Michelle pointed out that even if you have leadership and grassroots support, it’s still important to have a solid plan for your organization’s CX transformation. This starts with understanding where an organization is in terms of CX maturity and establishing a framework for measuring progress.

Utilizing maturity models or index assessments to understand where you are is a key and then really putting a plan in place to get to the next level. 

For more on CX maturity models, be sure to check out episode 78, a recent CX Mini masterclass covering this topic in detail.

Quantifying customer experience ROI

While Michelle highlighted executive support as a critical success factor for CX transformation, she was also quick to point out that business leaders will expect to see results. It’s a requirement that is all too familiar for CX professionals. Yet, demonstrating customer experience ROI is a challenge for many. 

While at Crowe, Michelle used the “4-R” model for demonstrating ROI. This multi-pronged approach highlights different facets of customer experience ROI to build a robust story about the positive impact of customer experience:

  • Revenue – looking at increases in customer revenue that can be attributed to happy or satisfied customers. This can be as straightforward as identifying correlations between satisfied customers (measured through your index of choice) and revenue.
  • Recognition – if given the opportunity, will customers recognize individuals who help provide a great experience and can this be connected to satisfaction/engagement/loyalty metrics that drive revenue?
  • Reputation – evaluating if satisfied customers are more likely to recommend the brand to others and what those recommendations might be worth to the business.  
  • Realization – profitability in the professional services space (connected to billable hours). CX teams in other industries could implement a cost-to-serve measure as a profitability component for customer experience ROI. Generally speaking, happy customers usually have a lower cost to serve.

Regardless of which approach you use to quantify customer experience ROI, Michelle pointed out that it’s important to identify your data sources and ensure that you collaborate with others in your organization to get the data that you need. Often this means working together with someone in finance or possibly business intelligence.

CXPA as a resource for CX professionals

During the interview, Michelle touched on ideas for those who are keen to get involved with customer experience, but may not be in a “customer experience” role. She suggested identifying how one might impact CX from within their current responsibilities as a way to gain exposure to CX and get involved. She also pointed out that the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) can be an amazing resource for self study, professional community support and continued learning.

It’s great to see a grounded, yet experienced CX leader involved with the CXPA board. She reiterated the association’s support for the next generation of CX leaders and noted that collaboration with higher education institutions is on the CXPA’s radar, so stay tuned.

Want to keep learning about CX?

Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business define customer experience strategy that delivers results, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services or get in touch via email. To hear other episodes of Decoding the Customer, click here.

Julia Ahlfeldt

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