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With 2023 in sight, customer experience leaders have budgets on their minds. Let’s take a look at a guide and recommendations from CX professionals to garner expert advice on developing wise spending plans. While many are looking forward to potentially getting a bigger piece of the budget in 2023, some are preparing to ride out possible crises along the way.

In Forrester’s 2023 CX Planning Guide (subscription required), Rick Parrish, vice president and lead report author, said that most customer experience (CX) leaders anticipate higher budgets over the next 12 months, despite growing economic turbulence and companies’ waning focus on customers.

“Even though they are optimistic, it is crucial that CX leaders invest to ensure their programs are as effective and efficient as possible to insulate themselves against unexpected budget cuts, whether in 2023 or during the next budget cycle,” Parrish added.

With that in mind, Parrish recommended that in designing their budgets for next year, CX leaders should prioritize:

  • Projects that can demonstrate ROI.

  • Critical skill development for existing CX personnel.

  • Technologies that democratize and accelerate customer research.

  • Customer journey orchestration (CJO) technologies.

  • Contact center technologies that improve CX and reduce costs.

  • The above five areas present plenty of possibilities. Within those, CX professionals offered their recommended priorities for 2023 budgets:

1. Invest in Upskilling Employees

“By the end of the decade, digital transformation will change more than one billion jobs worldwide,” said Jen Bailin, SAP CX chief revenue officer. “The speed at which technology is changing the way we work and live is already visible — and not only since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The consequence is an ever-growing IT skills gap challenging both employers and employees from all kinds of industries and businesses.”

As a result, organizations should use the economic opportunity for a digital upskilling revolution, according to Bailin. “For innovative CX leaders, this means that they must understand the importance of continuous learning and anticipate the skill sets needed to succeed in CX. Finding time for learning and development is imperative for their employees. Therefore, leaders must provide the time, space and free tailored program for their employees to upskill through intelligent solutions, within working hours. Only then can they keep employees and foster a culture of learning and development.” 

The upskilling approach must be practical, Bailin said. “By offering learning journeys and training within working hours and dedicating time for personal skills exploration, leaders can prove a genuine investment in their teams. Upskilling is a chance to boost an employee’s career and job satisfaction.”

Related Article: Chief Marketing Officers Share Priorities Amid Economic Stress 

2. Prioritize VoC for Actionable Intelligence

When customer behaviors are changing, voice-of-customer practices become more critical than ever to ensure the organization has actionable intelligence it can react to nimbly, said Alex Weishaupl, Protiviti Digital managing director.

“Investing in processes and technologies that accelerate customer research and provide actionable insights to a wider team means more people in the organization have more eyes on the customer, empowering them to make smarter, just-in-time decisions about what to do and where to invest,” Weishaupl said.

Listening is important; acting fast is similarly crucial, Weishaupl added. That means CX innovation is going to be an important muscle to strengthen to avoid the consequences of inaction. This will require investing in more flexible customer journey orchestration technologies to enable changes to be implemented quickly.

But maybe more important, it will also require doubling down on skills development for CX teams — moving from an optimizing stance to one where the teams can push forward hypothesis-driven decisions, solutioning with emerging tech and methods of engagement, and experimentation to meet emergent behaviors and delivering newly important benefits.

“To pay for that, the third priority should be scaling their experience automation efforts,” according to Weishaupl. “From contact centers to customer care to internal processes, identifying and automating areas where that automated efficiency won’t harm the customer experience becomes a valuable lever to allow the CX organization to redeploy people and resources to the areas that will be buffeted by change.”

3. Focus on Empowering CX Technologies

CX leaders should prioritize the implementation of CX technologies by analyzing the relevance and practical returns from improving the customer buying experience, advised Brian David Crane, founder of Spread Great Ideas.

“Proper research on CX applications can help understand what specific tasks are to be covered with this technology, a plan to implement it, and what metrics to consider to measure ROI,” Crane explained. When implementing CX technologies, companies should analyze if the new technology is agile enough to meet customers' ever-evolving expectations and needs.

Companies should also examine if the CX technology can align seamlessly with the company's existing structure and improve the supply chain of products and services, Crane recommended. “Contact center technologies like call recording, CRM software, automatic call-back programs, intelligent call routing, speech sentiment analysis and interactive voice response tools can help process customer interactions seamlessly.”

Related Article: Economic Downturn Ahead: 4 Ways to Trim Your Martech Stack 

Final Thoughts on CX Budgeting for 2023

With the fourth quarter already underway, those CX leaders who haven’t already done so are likely to develop their budget proposals over the next few weeks. Whether they expect to receive an increase or decrease in their budget allocations, they are more likely to get funds approved if they stick to the priorities offered above.