05 Jan CX and Content Feed Each Other. Here’s the 900% ROI Proof.
TL:DR: We consistently find millions of dollars in latent marketing opportunity and cost-savings by wrapping it around the customer and employee journey and simply running design-thinking sprints with CX, marketing and sales teams. This is the abridged story of how we uncovered $8 million in combined cost savings and new revenue by reimagining an insurance company’s content operations around the customer and employee journey experience.
In early 2018 our team packed a small conference room in a nondescript three-story office building outside of Philadelphia. It was raining, gray, foggy and freezing cold outside. It turned out, this big insurance company was temporarily renting this building as their new modern headquarters were being built downtown. As luck would have it, there were problems with the building’s heat. It was freezing inside as well. Coats would stay on all day as gallons of coffee were consumed.
Their head of customer experience had asked if we could come present ideas about the role of content operations in CX. Her exact words were, “You guys often talk about the criticality of integrating the content experience into the customer experience—our marketing team wants to know what you guys are talking about.”
We brought three experts in people/culture, CX transformation, and digital content experience, to what turned out to be an enormous internal marketing meeting. Immediately following the meeting’s kick-off and introductions, we’d learn lines of communication had been crossed and the the marketing team was expecting the meeting to be our team doing a capabilities presentation. After our contact, the head of CX, cleared that up, it felt like we had already lost the marketing team’s will to participate—and then this happened.
I asked the team how much money they spent annually on creating content that was measurably successful.
The most senior marketing executive in the meeting thought for a few seconds and then said, “It’s not totally precise and accurate but I’d guess our total cost of content is about $13 million a year. I mean, we have a team of almost 100 people focused on it.”
We then asked, “How much of that content is experienced-based content vs. sales-based content vs. marketing-based?” He replied, “What do you mean?” At that point, we understood there was a giant opportunity for this company. (He knew what marketing based and sales-based content was, he had never heard of experience-based content.)
Using Design Thinking to Reboot Content in CX
We structured the remainder of the meeting as a design-thinking sprint by spending 30 minutes on each of the following questions:
- What is the relationship between your marketing objectives and the resources (people/teams/budgets) to achieve them—and how is this relationship connected with the CX objectives?
- What does your current enterprise content strategy look like and do you have a content experience strategy?
- Are you creating internal content in addition to external content?
- Are you currently designing content around the customer and employee experience?
- How does your content strategy meet the internal needs along the salesperson journey?
- Do you strategize around the distinctions between the buyer and customer experience?
- How are the CX, digital, marketing, support, inside sales, field sales, product, risk, claims, pricing, HR and executive teams connected in support of your objectives?
- Is marketing focused solely on the customer acquisition stages at the top of the funnel or more entrenched along the entire buyer, purchase, and use journey?
- What is the average cost to produce a unit of content and how does the organization measure the efficacy or success of content produced vs. distributed?
Cracks in the CX Content Marketing Foundation
Long story, short, these questions caused quite the headache because they, for the first time, revealed significant cracks in the company’s CX and marketing foundation. We deliberately asked questions that spanned functional areas to determine collaboration health. What became apparent is that there was a better way to structure collaborations in pursuit of an increase in New Policies Written (revenue) + decrease in total cost of acquisition (sales and marketing cost).
We learned, together as a group, that this 90 year old insurance brand had structured its marketing and sales function like most other organizations. Traditional top-down management structure with periodic innovations and frequent major software and platform updates untethered from simple, common approaches to meet the evolved needs of everyone involved in the customer experience. In reality, the marketing and sales teams were coordinated to an extent but the CX function was completely separated from that collaboration. It was mandated that 100% of the CX budget was to be focused on post-purchase support for paying customers only. When we introduced the concept of “support” for pre-purchase experiences, you could see some foreheads and brows furl and other heads explode. One guy stood up clutching his hair and said, “Oh for fuck’s sake, I’ve been telling you guys this since the day I was hired and now a consultant swings by and airdrops the only smart option and you are all like, ‘how genius!'” The entire room erupted in laughter after a very long, pregnant pause.
It has now been almost two full years since this initial design thinking session along with several months of onsite planning and some preliminary results are in.
- The company’s CX, marketing, sales, and support functions are all now led by one executive new to the company who is completely bought into the experience-based approach to customer-centricity. She is working hard to coordinate with the HR group to blur the lines between the CX and Employee Experience (EE).
- They have lowered the total cost of content per unit by 41 percent: from $1,420 to $580. While focusing on the concept of content asset atomization and reuse (the practice of cutting larger, premium content assets like videos down into multiple, smaller content assets for multiple uses across social media, blogs, email campaigns, etc.)
- They have actually decreased their total content production in terms of assets produced, hours in production and tethered it all to a more evolved content experience strategy.
- There are now three experience dimensions at play (buyer experience, customer experience, and employee experience) covering the entire brand spectrum (pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase service and support) across which they map interactions exhaustively.
- Using content automation and personalization platform technologies, they are able to measure every marketing interaction’s success relative to the customer journeys they mapped.
- They created a new area of sales called Sales Enablement that focuses on the internal salesperson journey and equips them with more mobile content assets that help facilitate more sales successes in the field, in real time.
- They created a new twist to an old process by calling their marketing “Storytelling” in an effort to make all content more interesting, human-centered and aligned to their brand messaging.
- They forged an internal content practice focused on the experience of employees serving the customer where they celebrate exemplary ideas and services realized in customer satisfaction.
- They instituted a Voice of Customer program that not only surveyed customers but dynamically shared real-time customer issues, complaints, suggestions and other sentiments to the entire company to move toward living their values and being more customer centric.
All in all, this was a success for the company. Their actual ROI on our engagement was over 900 percent and growing. We were told the diagram we created (in the header of this article) was actually the impetus of the change and it was the first time all the major decision-makers were able to sit in one room and visualize their functional areas overlapping others when stretched across both the employee and customer journey at the same time. It was able to help them see, for the first time how silo’d their work was at a time where they knew the competition was rapidly adopting aggressive customer-centric approaches across the board.
It all started with pulling ideas out of difficult questions, working through operational frustrations, mapping experiences and arming the executives with a better story worth pursuing.
The CX + Content Framework
We invite you to try the same. Start with the diagram above, modify it as necessary and work to envision a better path forward. Chances are there are millions of dollars compacted deep into the way you’ve always done it.