6 Key Steps to Building a Business Case for Investment



Ben Fairbank
05/22/2017

With customer experience investments at the forefront of organisational strategies, how do you turn a business plan into an investment approved by the C-suite? Ben Fairbank, Head of Customer Experience at ride hailing app Grab, shares his key steps

Showing a clear plan on how to measure your ROI is paramount in determining if the business plan is likely to be approved. Cost saving plans are normally the easiest to get approved, because they help to meet more immediate targets. Plans that look at future growth and profits over time need to be explained more thoroughly as the investment may not see an immediate return.

SEE ALSO: The Customer Experience Buyer’s Guide

1. Never Outsource Your Core Business

This should go without saying. However, it is probably one of the most commonly made mistakes in businesses today. For example, you may be a company who bakes bread and is famous for the wonderful quality and ingredients used in your product. Why would you then outsource this to someone who can do it faster, cheaper and without the same regard for your high standards?

Do what you do well and look to partner with others for the things you are not so good at, like packaging, distribution or even marketing. The partners you chose should compliment and enhance your business, not damage its reputation.

2. Be Aligned With Your Objectives

If you run a contact centre and want to provide a world class service to your clients, why would you outsource to a company you reward for being quick and sloppy in responding to contacts? The two objectives are not aligned. It’s the old adage of speed vs quality.

Make sure you sit down with the prospective partner and discuss ways you can reward them for meeting the right goals and delivering the outcomes you clearly set out to achieve.

The bigger players may bring better resources and a wider range of expertise, but sometimes the more intimate and personable style of collaboration that a niche supplier provides is a better fit; you need to balance what is right for your business.

3. Demonstrate ROI

Many businesses will push for the partnership as a cost saving. What is the true cost of saving money though, if you are not aligned? Other businesses will claim they have difficulty in measuring the true ROI.

This should never be the case. Anything in the business can be measured. If you understand the customer journey, end-to-end, you will be able to measure the impact at each and every interaction point.

Showing a clear plan on how to measure your ROI is paramount in determining if the business plan is likely to be approved. Cost saving plans are normally the easiest to get approved, because they help to meet more immediate targets. Plans that look at future growth and profits over time need to be explained more thoroughly as the investment may not see an immediate return.

4. Get C-Suite Buy-In

What’s most important when presenting is getting C-level buy-in. It’s a common mistake to try and wow people with a slick presentation, followed by a summary showing how much it will cost. That simply doesn’t get most business cases over the line. Often people say to me that they also included a ROI timeline, and they still didn’t get approval. So how do you get a green light almost every time? It’s easier than you think.

Make sure you understand one very simple concept: most companies are looking not to spend but rather to save. They are looking to gain efficiency, run a lean operation and generally be smart about their expenditure. So the winning approach is to demonstrate the cost to the business if they don’t act on your business plan.

For example, your plan may cost $100k to implement, however it saves the company $300k that is being unnecessarily spend each year. How is this different from showing ROI? It’s reversing the equation. You’re now appearing not to ask for money, but rather explaining that by not investing in your business plan the company will be worse off as a result. Every executive wants to be able to say that they saved money and found a smarter way of doing things.

I have been able to implement numerous business plans for working with vendors over the years using these methods, some at a significant cost to the company to implement. However, as there was a huge cost saving, against an already budgeted expense, they were not only quick to get approval, but even quicker to be implemented.

5. Be Sure of What you Want to Achieve

Plan, plan and then do more planning. Make sure you can clearly and articulately communicate your objective to a prospective vendor. If you are unable to clearly communicate what you want to achieve, chances are you will get something completely different to what you had first hoped. In this situation you may also be sold into what a vendor is good at delivering and not what you want.

The lure of ‘cheap’ is always the most attractive, especially when you are trying to balance profits for stakeholders, meet objectives and also get the partnership approved by the powers that be. However, if the cheaper option doesn’t tick all the boxes in your plan, then don’t do it just to save a few dollars.

In a previous role I split vendors and used one which was cheap, which saved about 10 per cent but caused numerous headaches. And we partner with another one which wasn’t cheap and grew the subscriber base by nearly 90 per cent in a year.

Each vendor partner offers something different and offers different expertise. Make sure that the business and the vendor both know what it is you set out to achieve and you have clear and measurable goals that can be tracked and are not just theoretical.

6. Have Open, Regular & Healthy Communications

Once you have selected a vendor make sure you the partnership doesn’t fail through a lack of communication. It’s like a marketing department not communicating with product developers in a chocolate manufacturer. It will end in disaster.

Schedule regular meetings, calls, emails, etc. and make sure the time is used productively. Talk about goals, missed opportunities and ways to improve the business together. Honesty is integral in any partnership, and things that are left unchecked, can quickly get out of hand and cause long term brand damage.

Remember, your partners are often representative of your brand, especially if they are customer or client facing. Never put the brand at risk.

This is an extract from The Customer Experience Buyer’s Guide 2017. Download your complimentary copy of the full report by clicking on the banner below.

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