Listen Up, CX Vendors!

Listen Up, CX Vendors!

Here’s how customer experience leaders are making decisions—and what they want from you.

As the number of customer experience (CX) technology options increases, the buying process has become more complex—particularly in large companies. A growing number of people within the company have a vested interest in CX platforms, applications, and customizations.
As a result, the buying cycle for CX technologies is longer, the expectations for vendors are more intense, and the need for top-notch leadership is more important than ever.
Though the descriptions vary from organization to organization, most organizations have the following roles:
  • Decision-makers – These are most frequently technology experts who understand vendors, service providers, products, and services. They make decisions largely based on requirements from the business unit leaders that also align with the company’s security, legal, and procurement policies.
  • Funders – These are a mix of people. When the purchase is a foundational technology (platforms, network services, security, etc.), the technology leader, such as a CIO, CTO, VP of IT, IT director, etc., commonly funds. When the purchase is an application or suite of apps, business leaders fund.
  • Influencers – These also are a mix of people broader than those involved with decisions and funding. They may include business leaders, executives, contact center agents, customers, sales teams, marketing leaders, or procurement. By definition, they don’t decide on the technology or the provider—but they can have incredible influence over both—so much that many say it’s impossible to win the business without them.
In 50% of CX technology buying decisions, the funder and decision-maker are the same person—but in 50% of the cases, they’re not, according to Metrigy’s Customer Experience Transformation 2022-23 research study of 724 organizations globally. The latter situation involves more complex and time-consuming sales processes simply because of the number of people, the number of questions, and the time it takes for the multiple decision-makers to settle on the right solution.
Decision-makers vary somewhat depending on the type of CX technology in question. For example, with contact center platforms, technology people make decisions in 59.5% of companies, while the Chief Customer Officer or CX leader does the same in 35% of companies. The results are similar for CRM and CPaaS, though sales and marketing leaders show up more prominently for CRM; in those areas, 33.2% of the decisions (not necessarily funding) come from a CEO or other C-level executive (not including the CIO, CTO, or Chief Customer Officer).
Funders are more often C-level executives and the CCO, specifically, for the contact center. Technology leaders fund the contact center in fewer than half the contact center buying decisions.
When it comes to influencers, they are spread across many titles, as shown in the table below. That’s why vendor sales teams need to identify the roles of everyone involved in the sales process for CX technology decisions. Typically, the salespeople have “coaches” within the enterprise organization who should be able to point these people out. Or, while in group meetings, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask people what their role is in the project. For contact centers, supervisors and agents often influence the decisions, while sales and marketing teams influence customer relationship management (CRM) decisions. Overall, across all CX technologies measured, technology leaders continue to be at the forefront—if they’re not making or funding the decisions, they’re certainly influencing them.
Of course, influencers can positively or negatively influence vendors or the whole project. Some are highly regarded company-wide because of their knowledge, so their voice carries a lot of weight when it comes time to make a decision.
Others can trigger problems or changes—some of which aren’t their fault. For example, in one large project I was involved with, the vendors and the project team were aggravated with the security leader because he kept throwing cold water on every idea. However, the project team brought him in for a rubber stamp at the very end of the project—not allowing him the time he needed to resolve security issues. That brought down the entire project, but it was avoidable if he had involved himself from the start. In other cases, I’ve seen business leaders with little technology experience ask insightful questions about the business impact that shifted the project to drive more success.
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