You’ve listened to customers. You’ve mapped their journeys. And you’ve identified a lot of improvement areas that would make the experience light years better for your customers. You’ve got a governance structure in place that includes a team of folks who are keeping a running list of all of those improvement initiatives.

But there’s a problem. There are a lot of things to fix. And there are a lot of competing priorities in your company. Now what?  You need to help your executives see how all of the improvements go hand in hand with many of the company’s other initiatives/priorities – after all, everything you do is for/about the customer, right?

Yes, they are all important

Customers told you so, right?! And we as CX professionals believe it’s important to fix everything that breaks the experience. But you know you’re not immediately going to get budget to solve all of the world’s problems. So, as I like to say, let’s take some baby steps. When you go in for the big ask, paint the big picture, i.e., how is it all connected? But also paint the little picture, i.e., help them identify, within your list of immediate needs, which are more immediate than others.

There are a lot of different ways to prioritize your CX improvement initiatives

You’ll need to determine the ways that speak most loudly to your executives. They include looking at:cost to fix time to fix effort to fix resources required to fix impact on the business impact on the customer. Know that they are not linear; the prioritization typically requires a combination of two or more of these metrics. I recommend that that combination always includes “impact on the customer,” i.e., what is most important to the customer? what matters most to the customer? if we do this and not that, will the customer stay or leave?

If you always frame the prioritization that way, it should also speak volumes to your executives, especially when you tell them that if certain actions aren’t taken, you will lose X% of customers. I’ve written previously that, in order to get executive commitment, you need to build the business case. This holds true for prioritizing the improvement initiatives. Build the business case, tie it to business outcomes, and speak their language.

Two customer models from the Harvard Business Review

The Apostle Model segments customers by combining their loyalty with their satisfaction levels, allowing you to identify and then to place greater priority on those things that will help you keep your most loyal and most satisfied customers. On the other hand, the Loyalty-Profitability Model segments customers by combining their loyalty with their profitability, allowing you to identify and to place greater priority on what it takes to keep your most valuable customers. Both models provide roundabout ways to prioritize initiatives by prioritizing customers. They also help you understand why taking a two-dimensional (or more) approach to prioritization paints a better picture.

One other option is to conduct a So What exercise, which allows you to identify the importance and the impact of implementing an improvement solution. This methodology was developed by the U.S. Army to move beyond simply uncovering root causes to prioritizing – and then actually implementing – ideal, impactful improvements. It allows you to identify the impact of various improvement initiatives and weight them against each other, getting at the list of top initiatives that best support desired company and customer outcomes.

Having said all that, ultimately this prioritization has to be based on criteria that were established by the CX governance team, namely, the executive steering committee. They will take a look at all of the company’s initiatives and prioritize one relative to another; when they do this, I would simply ask that they remember: you are in business for and because of the customer. Choose wisely!

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe