Some people love numbers.
They love ratios, percentages, scores, ratings, targets, charts, and spreadsheets. But there are others who simply don’t like data, or the story told by the data. And in the case of customer experience (CX) performance metrics, some still cling to long-held lore about what, when, and where measurements matter. They haven’t caught on to the ways in which customer-focused metrics can help to create a reputable, efficient organization. Here are a few fables you shouldn’t tell yourself, along with some truths about what CX metrics can do help you do in your business.
Fable #1: Top-line revenue tells you everything you need to know about customers’ experiences.
Sure. Falling revenue is usually a pretty clear signal something is probably wrong. But that number doesn’t tell you what is wrong. Same with top line revenue. It doesn’t tell you what’s right, or wrong. I see this mindset in company cultures that are driven by business development, sales, and marketing functions. If customers are buying from you, then they must be happy, and you must be doing everything right, right? Not necessarily. Just because you win a new client doesn’t mean things were perfect when they signed the engagement letter, and it doesn’t necessarily mean the business relationship in their eyes has sustained any level of satisfaction. A great top line doesn’t mean customers will continue to do business with you, doesn’t mean your business is running efficiently, and it certainly doesn’t mean your competitors aren’t doing all they can to lure that customer away.
Fable #2: Metrics make you look bad.
Metrics should be viewed as a conversation starter for your team, not as a policing mechanism. The conversation-starter mindset can be a huge obstacle, though, because regulators, auditors, government inspectors, and/or oversight bodies continuously scrutinize metrics and data. Asking a team to sit down together and review customer experience performance metrics can feel like more of that. You need a strong team leader to set a tone of trust surrounding the metrics conversation. If performance isn’t on track with standards and targets, don’t play a blame game. Instead, ask genuine questions like: “Why is performance off? Did we confuse the customer, and if so, then how and why? Do we have a staff personality conflict? An IT problem? Staffing shortage? How can we team up to fix this customer pain point?” Understandably, these can seem like scary conversations, but when done with a tone of trust, they’re quite bold because you’re not avoiding the problems the data wants to show you. You’re taking steps to surface the systemic issues.
Fable #3: Customer satisfaction is the only customer experience metric that matters.
I’ve never been a fan of “customer satisfaction” scores. To me, “customer satisfaction” doesn’t tell you enough about the customer and what it will take to keep and expand the business relationship. Plus, customer satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) is just one emotion customers experience when dealing with your company. To understand the full story of customers’ experiences, look at customer wait times, application processing times, your response times, transaction completion rates, acceptance rates, contact center volumes, and types of customer compliments and complaints, for example. I always recommend monitoring customer wait times as a great experiential metric because one thing we know from multiple research studies (including this one by SAP)—few things annoy customers more than waiting. Scan internal resources for a wider scope of data points that can help you see what customers see when they engage with your company.
Fable #4: A once-per-year customer experience data review is all we need.
Customer needs and expectations aren’t static. Service standards like wait times and processing times, for example, should keep pace with customer expectations. You may need to flex how, when, and where you collect customer feedback, set standards, and take measurements based on a changing product, business, or regulatory landscape. Doing so can keep you ahead of customer complaints, social media backlash, and employee tensions. It’s hard work, but it beats managing a public crisis. Keep a pulse on what’s happening.
So what do you do? For starters, don’t fear the data. That can be easier said than done, especially when customer experience data is used only for incentives and individual performance measurement, and not a tool to develop the organization and coach your people. But it can be done. Then, seek the metrics that will shed light on the truth about how you need to flex, change, and communicate as an organization, in order to avoid slow-downs, mistakes, and complaints. When you have a good mix of metrics and the right conversational, collaborative mindset surrounding data, then metrics will help you and your team better understand what you need to do to be successful with customers.
What other metrics fables have I missed? Feel free to share your perspectives and experiences in the comments below.
All views are mine. Follow me on Twitter: @stephaniethum
Blog was originally published on LinkedIn.