Measuring the customer experience: three key considerations
Understanding how your company is performing in terms of Customer Experience (CX) is a key part of benchmarking against competitors and identifying areas for improvement.
But as analyst Ed Thompson said at the recent Gartner summit, there are over 100 commonly used metrics for measuring CX, ranging from the simple (Average Handling Time) to the more complex (overall customer satisfaction or Net Promoter Score). So how do you ensure you are covering all the bases when tracking CX performance?
There are three main considerations to focus on:
1. Managing up and down
Ideally, you want to select a range of relevant metrics to evaluate the customer experience – relying on one alone doesn’t work. There’s actually a hierarchy of interlinked CX measurement metrics that support each other. For example Ed Thompson talks about the importance of monitoring high-level business outcome metrics that measure the organizational maturity and sustainability of a customer-centric culture. But he also says you should focus at the other end of the scale paying attention to more tactical metrics that measure CX performance of individual departments, teams, regions and other divisions. It’s important to cover the whole spectrum to get a clear picture.
2. Including metrics from all parts of the organization
Similarly, multiple departments, from HR and customer service to marketing, will measure CX using different metrics so you need to take them all in. Again, many of the metrics are interrelated. So for example, the Service-Profit Chain model demonstrates how high employee engagement (typically measured by HR) is linked to employees being motivated to deliver a quality customer service which then impacts overall CX.
You also need to ensure that the metrics you choose, analyze both the rational, hard numbers (such as repeat customers and complaints), as well as the emotional factors. Technologies such as artificial intelligence and Natural Language Processing can pick up on the underlying emotions within written digital communications to help here for example. This is all part of the growing trend towards customer sentiment analysis which monitors customers’ reactions to products and services by evaluating language, text, voice inflexions, and biometrics to measure opinions, attitudes, and emotions.
Importantly, many metrics, including existing Voice of the Customer programs, tell you how your customers feel, but not WHY they feel that way. That’s why brands are increasingly turning to customer intelligence solutions, such as Eptica’s vecko, which can give this deeper view into the emotion behind the metrics.
3. Demonstrating the ROI of CX initiatives
There is no doubt that improving the customer experience can have a direct or indirect financial impact on the business. This could be because having loyal customers reduces the cost of sale, or that fewer complaints and queries bring down support costs.
This means that measuring the return on investment of CX projects is vital – particularly as they have to compete for funding with other programs. However, it’s not easy to do, because many CX initiatives can take between 3-5 years to deliver ROI. In fact, Gartner research from 2017 suggests 26% of businesses do not bother measuring the ROI delivered by CX improvement projects or do it informally.
To generate real ROI you need to be able to turn insight into actions and improvements. So for example, if you are collecting VoC data– whether it’s direct, indirect or inferred (i.e. the opinions of customer-facing staff), you need to make sure it’s accessible to all relevant teams in the organization so they can use it to turn insights into action.
For example, if you are experiencing high customer churn, VoC studies might identify why customers are leaving and what percentage are at risk. And sharing these insights with management can potentially mean they can create a way to address the underlying issues and reduce churn. Similarly, if customers on your e-commerce site are failing to complete their journey to the checkout, sharing data about the typical questions these customers ask on the site can help management design a better, smoother customer journey to drive more completed transactions.
CX is an ongoing process. Your customers’ expectations are always rising and your competition is always innovating. Which means it’s essential to focus on measurement and ROI for any changes and improvements you make to the CX.