ACE Awards Judging: Where’s the Evidence?

Author Bio

Author Bio

Judging the ACE Awards, our program that recognizes Confirmit customers who are really embracing best practices in customer experience, is always an interesting task. While I work closely with many customers, there are always new stories I wasn’t aware of and it’s fascinating to see how, year-on-year, the bar is raised when it comes to what constitutes a great Voice of the Customer program.

One of the biggest – I won’t call it “fights”, let’s go with “discussions” – in the judging process comes as we focus on the winners of the Judges’ Choice awards. For those not familiar, these are the “best of the best” within each category and are awarded to the organizations who are really able to demonstrate that they are driving change in their businesses.

All the entrants have plenty of anecdotal evidence to share – and it is great stuff. Really inspiring stories of changes to corporate culture and how Voice of the Customer and Voice of the Employee programs are empowering employees to do the right thing. We love that stuff, don’t let what follows make you think otherwise. These things matter.

But. What remains less common is the elusive linkage to the bottom line - companies who’ve got cold, hard financial data about their program. The ability to prove Return on Investment from a VoC program is still something that only a handful of companies achieve, and many (if not all) are struggling to deliver. There are very few CX Practitioners out there who are lucky enough to have a CEO who states (as one did to me) “ROI? What do you mean ROI – surely everyone knows this is just the right thing to do”. So as we reviewed the ACE submissions - increases to NPS® are cited a lot, which is great, as are improvements to other KPIs - but tying dollar signs to a program is still rare. Whether that’s through cost savings or revenue increases.

As customer experience professionals we need to accept that we are not a special case in the business. While in some cases (only some!) we can get away with selling the general idea that a focus on CX is A Good Thing for a while, that can’t last. Every other part of the business – marketing, operations, IT – all have to make a real business case for investment if they want to succeed and grow. CX needs to accept this, deal with it and get cracking.

What was heartening was that, in identifying the 2017 ACE Awards winners, there is evidence that this is beginning to happen. The feel-good stories are still there, which is brilliant, but we are starting to see more tangible, financial data in the submissions. For example, one Judges’ Choice winner was able to point to specific financial savings by enabling customers to self-serve for some processes – a process implemented as a direct result of customer feedback.

For any businesses already pondering their 2018 ACE Awards submission, that is the way to a judge’s heart! Show us the money!


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