Economic crisis and CX

Seven things CX leaders must consider during economic crises


All the signs point to a painful period of economic uncertainty over the next 12 months. So what are the key questions customer experience leaders should be considering - and where can they find the answers?

13th Oct 2022

All the signs point to a painful period of economic uncertainty over the next 12 months. 

As The World Bank recently noted: "The war in Ukraine, lockdowns in China, supply-chain disruptions, and the risk of stagflation are hammering growth. For many countries, recession will be hard to avoid."

With businesses facing the prospect of challenging trading conditions for the foreseeable future, customer experience leaders will need to be assessing how they should respond as they being to pull together their 2023 strategies.

Let's examine some of the key questions they should be asking themselves, and share some advice to help surface answers.

How can we keep CX funded during a recession? 

If recession is indeed on the horizon, customer experience leaders need to consider what they can do to ensure that their CX programmes won't be subject to dramatic budget cuts. Read How to keep CX funded during a recession, by Peter Dorrington, to learn what steps can be taken to minimise the impact. 

If your CX budget is cut, how can you reprioritise your spend?

If cuts to your budget are unavoidable, you need to be confident that it won't be too disruptive. Making significant budget cuts requires sharper prioritisation than in normal circumstances - you can’t just take 20% off every item of expenditure; some may need to be cut by 60%, some by 10%, some may even need to be increased. Read How to reprioritise customer-facing spend when your budget is cut, by the late, great Jack Springman for a structured six-step approach to reducing customer management expenditures so that you survive the recession without damaging long-term potential.

If the CX budget is cut, how can you ensure that you won't be cut with it?

Unfortunately, if your budget is slashed, it may also mean that your role as CX leader is also under scrutiny. Many businesses may - sadly - see CX professionals as expendable. However, this needn't be the case if you can articulate the vital role you can play in steering their business through the tough times. Read How CX professionals can make themselves indispensable during tough times, by Sampson Lee, for advice on connecting 'what you do' to business results, thereby making yourself, and your CX initiative, indispensable. 

If cost-cutting is inevitable, how can we ensure it doesn't affect customers?

Even if you manage to avoid cuts to your customer experience programme, the difficult economic landscape will inevitably mean that there will be cuts elsewhere in the business. For CX leaders, it is important to keep the customer in mind and try to influence decision-making to minimise the impact on customers. Read How to protect the customer experience during cut-backs, by Colin Shaw, to learn five points that CX managers should be raising during discussions on company cut-backs. 

How can we minimise disruption to our CX programme?

Any business and any CX team always operates under pressure from the unstructured external environment, unpredictable events, risks and change. But by introducing the structure and the rigour of project management into your CX, you can combat uncertainty, ensure your projects fit in with the business strategy, and are supported by meaningful tasks that get executed quickly. Read Combat CX uncertainty with these daily, weekly & monthly agile management practices, by Olga Potaptseva, to learn how to stay on top of the turmoil to ensure you still address your core CX challenges and requirements.

Should we be preparing for survival, or planning for acceleration?

Businesses are being led to believe it's time to brace for the storm, but is there an alternative option? As you prepare your CX programme for an uncertain future, you are probably prone to scale down your plans and go into survival mode. But there is an argument that the opportunities for growth should not be overlooked. Read Why you should plan your CX programme for acceleration, not survival, by Momchil Blaskov, to explore if you're adopting the correct strategy for your programme. 

And don't forget that your customers are also being impacted!

It's not only your CX programme and your business that are feeling the pinch - it is likely that many of your customers will also be struggling financially and mentally with the challenges of an economic downturn. Ensure that your customer insight programmes, customer feedback programmes and Voice of the Employee programmes are keeping you aware of how your customers are feeling and how you could support them. Consider how you can reassure customers, and in particular vulnerable customers - read How can businesses better support vulnerable customers, by Rachael Merrell for more on this, and watch Best practices for serving vulnerable customers, for advice from Nicki Phillips-Lord, who herself has been running a programme to help those customers most in need of assistance.


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