Your customers are speaking – but are you really listening?

Customer-experience metrics have proliferated over the past decade, and chances are that your business relies heavily on one or more of them. But many companies struggle with metrics.

For some, the problem is a disconnect between the metric and business performance; for others, it’s a loss of confidence among frontline workers when the metrics don’t seem to explain big swings in customer satisfaction.

Further, in some companies, there is confusion about whether transactional or relational measures matter more, and, in others, a simple lack of results from too much focus on one top-line metric.

Complicating the problem, many companies struggle with collecting, analysing, and acting on feedback. Many B2B companies, for instance, gather customer feedback only through sales channels, missing important insights from users and influencers. Finally, many companies don’t have the culture to loop customer feedback through the front line to improve behaviour or connect it to innovation.

Taken together, these complications leave many companies tone-deaf to the voice of the customer and represent a formidable barrier to building the foundation of a successful customer-centric strategy.

In our experience, however, we have found that there are three core things that can turn metrics into a source of true value:

Focus on the journey

Measuring customer experience at the journey level (i.e. those set of interactions a customer has with a business to complete a task), as opposed to looking only at transactional touchpoints or overall satisfaction makes all the difference.

Our research finds that customer journeys are significantly better correlated with business outcomes, such as churn, than are touchpoints. Obtaining feedback about customer journeys—say, for the overall purchase journey, not just a point of sale, or for the issue-resolution journey, rather than just a customer-care interaction—is foundational.

one of the most important KPIs in an issue-resolution journey is the time from issue to resolution

For this to be meaningful, companies need to tie journey measurement to key performance indicators (KPIs) and supporting operations. For example, from a customer perspective, data reveals that one of the most important KPIs in an issue-resolution journey is the time from issue to resolution.  

If the company is looking only at a touchpoint—say, a call interaction—then the total elapsed time until resolution will never appear as an element that drives customer satisfaction, nor will it become a focus for improvement. The business can then focus on addressing how to drive down the time for issue resolution.

In addition to tying operational KPIs to journey feedback, another essential effort is building organisational and cultural elements into the foundation of a measurement system. These elements include clear and broad transparency of customer-experience measures (including feedback), as well as employee feedback. In our experience, better employee experience and engagement translate to better customer-experience performance. Employees are crucial actors in helping to convey what the customer is really experiencing.

Invest in a backbone system

Just as companies invest in enterprise-resource-planning systems to collect, measure, and report finances, so investment in technology is necessary to support a superior customer-experience-measurement (CEM) system. Investing in a robust CEM systems make important contributions to creating value.

First, they make it possible to scale how many customers a business can interact with and journeys to analyse. Moreover, the best systems can process many more different and broader sets of data, e.g. survey results, social-media posts, and operational data.

Finally, they enable action-based reporting. In other words, not only does the user gain transparency into results, but the system also offers recommendations for specific responses when certain issues are flagged.

Continuous-improvement mind-set

Learning from data is an ongoing process, but shifting to that approach is difficult. Organisational inertia is hard to overcome, even for companies with a strong customer orientation. There are two areas where establishing a continuous-improvement regimen matters most in achieving a superior customer-centric mind-set.

learning from data is an ongoing process

The first is at the front line, with employees sending customer feedback back into the system but then also using that insight to change the way the process is designed or executed. When this does not occur, it’s often because this “muscle” hasn’t been developed through training, performance management based on incentives and leaders role modelling customer-centric behaviour.

The second important area is making feedback part of an approach to continuous improvement in service design. For designers and engineers in marketing or research and development, for example, it is necessary to create a pipeline for feedback and then acting on it, rather than merely reporting metrics.

Customer-experience metrics are everywhere, but relying on them isn’t the same as truly hearing the voice of the customer. Rather, investing in an effective and complete system to measure the experience of the customer journey is the way to reap the rewards of customer feedback.


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