What gets measured gets done… but measuring alone won’t make it happen

We’re all familiar with the adage “What gets measured, gets done”. In fact, we’ve probably all used it as justification for our own or our team’s actions or performance. But whilst it is true that measuring something certainly focuses people’s attention, it doesn’t mean that by default it is a driver for change or improvement.

In the world of Customer Experience, measurement is a big deal. Whether it be Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort or Customer Satisfaction, there is a real focus on measuring customer performance. But there is also a quiet backlash going on, as those in the C-Suite question whether it is actually delivering value for either the organisation or their customers. The reason for this? Because tracking a measure is not, on its own, a driver for change. 

For example, how many people have a sports tracker app and have set themselves daily activity targets? But despite tracking that activity, they probably don’t hit target at least 30-40% of the time. The same is true for many customer experience programmes – whether measuring NPS, Satisfaction or Customer effort, they are often seeing little or no improvement in their scores and their retention levels.

So how do you make sure that your customer experience measures are a genuine driver for change and that the actions you are taking are adding value?

Measuring the right thing

Sounds obvious, but it is fundamental to make sure that you are measuring the right things. Many organisations have implemented NPS or C-Sat measures because they believe it is the right thing to do.  However, you need to give serious consideration as to what the right measures are for your customers and your business. For example, if you sell a commodity product such as petrol, then it is unlikely that many customers are going to recommend your product, unless you have a price point advantage. Net Promoter score is therefore not particularly relevant and customer effort is likely to be more appropriate, since most people want to complete the task of refuelling as effortlessly as possible. On the other hand, if your customer’s have the potential to have a high lifetime value and the power to influence others, such as in the case of a car purchase, you absolutely want to understand their loyalty to your business, as well as the drivers of loyalty and recommendation.

Consider a combination of measures

Customer’s experiences with your organisation are complicated. They are often non-linear, protracted and involve multiple interactions across several channels. All of which needs to be considered when trying to improve their experience and drive repeat purchase or retention. Whilst it might be simpler to use a single customer experience measure, it may not give a true picture of the customer’s experiences. Rather, consider using a combination of relationship and transactional measures across the customer journey to get a true picture of where you are under or over delivering.

Organisations with more advanced programmes use transactional measures such as effort and satisfaction to measure touchpoints along the journey, and relational measures, such as NPS at the end, or at strategically significant points in the journey. Whilst this requires more effort on the part of the organisation to avoid survey fatigue with customers, it provides a far richer source of information that allows for service recovery and improvement as well as identifying transformational opportunities. It also ensures feedback from customers is relative to the experience they are having at the time, so whilst one interaction may be unsatisfactory – perhaps indicating an agent training need- the customers overall experience and perception of the brand may still be very high.

Understand what you are going to do with the measurement

Tracking a measure does not in itself create action.  It is important when designing any measurement programme to have clear objectives regarding what will be done with the data collected. Are you looking to increase, retention, share of wallet, improve conversion, build brand reputation or working towards something else?

Successful programmes are those that articulate this from the outset and clearly indicate across the business how the data will be shared and what is to be done with it, including expectations on individuals. This includes closing the loop, service recovery and identifying proactive ways to help customers as well regular reviews of the data to look for emerging trends and opportunities. Some organisations go as far as to establish an ideas forum so any employee that spots an opportunity for improving the customer experience can submit it for consideration.

Don’t focus on the number

Any measurement programme worth its salt will not only take a quantitative measure but will also be designed to capture as much free form and qualitative feedback as possible. Whilst it is OK to set a target to demonstrate to the organisation the desired direction of change it is this rich, free form content that offers the most valuable insights for an organisation.

There are many anecdotes and first-hand experiences of programmes getting little management attention until the CEO latches onto one comment made by a single customer. It is far easier for us to understand commentary from customers and how we can change that than understand the influence we have on a score, which for most employees can seem like something they have little influence on. The difficulty with this insight it is much harder to sort and consolidate than taking an average of scores and therefore it often gets a cursory glance through and gets left. Well, just because something is hard is not a reason not to do it and with the range text and sentiment analytics tools that are available now, it is much easier to start to draw some conclusions from large sets of qualitative information.  This should form the crux of any programme with the measurement itself being more of an indicator of change.

If you measure customer satisfaction, but target your employees operationally, on measures like call time or no of visits per day, then that is what they will deliver. Even with the best will in the world, if these measures remain in place this is will be what gets done because employees know this is what they are being assessed against. Almost no-one goes to work to deliver a bad service however this if often the consequence of them delivering on their operational targets. For example, if agents are targeted on closing calls, they will naturally close a call once it is finished – from the customer’s perspective, this doesn’t necessarily equate to resolving the issue and often results in multiple calls. This is not only a poor experience for the customer but is counterintuitive to what the organisation is trying to achieve, since it results in rework.

 

Whilst it is not essential to set financial targets related to customer experience measures, which in itself can lead to employees gaming the results, it is important that employees understand the customer experience targets and that these are not surpassed by contradictory operational measures. The customer experience targets need to align with the operational targets and the overall business strategy, or else any measurement programme will become challenging to deliver and even more challenging to proof its worth.

Measuring customer experience is here to stay, but with a report by Temkin finding that only 10% of organisations have an effective measurement programme in place, it is more important than ever to get the design and implementation right from the offset, if it is to benefit the organisation and its customers.