This is the third part in a series meant to help globally-ambitious brands and retailers to navigate budget barriers when looking to buy a solution that improves their onsite customer experience.
“We have to create a budget, and we don’t know how to do it.”
This scenario requires creativity and ingenuity, and there are a number of ways to solve for it. We have helped clients develop and utilize numerous strategies that can actually be applied to any desirable program or project requiring a budget investment.
The first place to start is to develop a deep understanding of the current budgeting cycle at your company. Here are a few questions to ask, though there are many more:
- When does the new fiscal year start?
- How do budgets get approved internally?
- What teams or individuals are involved in the budget approval process?
- Who actually signs off on projects involving tech implementations?
- To whom do you need to make a business case if asked?
Thoroughly informing yourself of the internal rules of engagement for the budget cycle will help you to better navigate the complexity of this exercise. It will also reveal ways that you can better leverage the strategies and ideas outlined below.
When it comes to improving digital customer experiences, the outcomes will impact a number of teams and not just yours. A Marketing leader will inevitably need to loop in their counterpart on the Ecommerce team. A Customer Experience officer or Innovation lead could be the driving force behind the project and then need to bring in leaders in other functions to weigh in or support the solution evaluation. Because personalization is an omni-channel effort, Store Operations may also come into the fold. And these folks may all operate in different markets on distributed teams that can benefit from this tech–this can result in a lot of people and teams having skin in the game.
And it makes sense: a personalization platform is naturally a collaborative effort because the customer experience spans the entire customer lifecycle and touches all parts of the business. This interdependence is your ally. If you’re looking to build a budget for a project that involves various teams, then create the budget collectively across several departments and functions. But timing is key. Bringing multiple allies into the evaluation process early on can help make a unified ask for budget much easier and faster.
Smart business leaders we’ve worked with have other tricks up their sleeve. Oftentimes they earmark a portion of their budget for the last quarter of the budget cycle in case any changes in the business cause them to pivot their priorities. All omni-channel, digital businesses need to be ready to shift gears in response to changing market conditions or to new developments in the competitive landscape. Putting money aside to allocate to new projects for the back half of the year can help businesses respond to these new conditions and get ahead of the curve.
Here’s a rather unorthodox approach: you can look ahead to see if any recurring payments for other programs are being retired or terminated. In that case, any extra budget assigned to those programs will be freed up and can be moved forward or added to the budget for a new high-impact project or tech implementation. Conversely, rather than paying other programs up front, your various vendors might agree to amortize payments allowing you to free up cash. In general, examining payment terms across all programs can uncover money that can pay for other costs now. At Revieve, we consider ourselves true partners to our clients and we are flexible in collaborating with them so they can afford our tech. But this all requires a fair amount of creativity and collaboration.
What this means for you
Don’t let your budget dictate your future customer experience strategy. These budget challenges across your business can be resolved. Build out a vision for an ideal customer experience, decide how much you value the data and the upside to your business, go to market first, and be creative with how you make it happen. And remember that a supportive partner should guide you along the way as an extension of your team to make it work for you.