woman with measuring tape measuring a photograph
No one customer-based measurement will give you the full picture required to deliver excellent customer experience PHOTO: Peat Bakke

"Customer-based measures are important, but they must be translated into measures of what the company must do internally to meet its customers’ expectations" ― David P. Norton

In a recent study, Econsultancy found that while most marketers list personalizing messaging and measuring impact as “very important to growth,” only 10 to 14 percent felt they had strong capabilities in these areas. Given that personalization and measuring impact are both critical factors in delivering excellent customer experiences, this is enough to give many marketers pause. 

But when you couple that troubling statistic with Signal Research's finding that 90 percent of Forbes Global 500 company executives believe customer experience will be the next key battle ground, every CMO or CX leader should be looking inward to make sure their company does not fall into Econsultancy’s unfortunate 85 percent.

What it Takes to Be a CX Leader Today

Customer experience success today requires a direct tie between the customer-based measures the company seeks to improve with its CX efforts and the internal processes required to achieve these measures. Attaining this outcome-to-process association compels CX leadership to find innovative ways to extend influence and take on a broad and authoritative role.

In our work with large companies we find the three most important characteristics a CX leader must adopt to succeed in this endeavor are:

Transformative — Forging Dramatic Change: Managing customer experience requires the ability to develop and implement multichannel strategies and business processes.

Cogent — Telling a Clear and Compelling Story: Data-driven organizations must be able to use customer insights and advanced analytic techniques to present a clear and compelling story to the rest of the organization; about customer behavior, value and ROI on experience management activity.

Cohesive — Well Integrated and Unifying: CX leaders need to foster cooperation and coordination across business units in order to implement the sweeping change necessary for multichannel business strategies such as experience management.

The Customer Metrics That Matter

The customer-based metrics that matter most for CX fall into two broad categories: survey, and engagement and usage. Both play a role in guiding the experience initiative, and each require the broad reach of the modern CX leader to implement and fix when they go awry.

Survey-Based Metrics

CX leaders use three primary survey-based metrics to gauge CX success. These metrics focus on satisfaction, loyalty and overall experience:

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) — This metric typically focuses on how satisfied a customer is with a single interaction, transaction or product. It generally involves a single question or very short surveys. Spikes in negative responses can help pinpoint broken processes or issues with products.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) — NPS captures the likelihood a customer would recommend the company to others. While the question of whether a customer would recommend is a simple one, the answers over time are influenced by multiple experiences. Thus, this becomes an indicator of overall satisfaction with the relationship, rather than with individual interactions.

Customer Effort Score (CES) — CES tracks the effort a customer must put forth to complete a transaction to the desired end state. More broad-based than the CSAT measure, it frequently involves journeys that span channels and company representatives. CES is often touted as a telling CX measure due to the span of activity it can include.

Engagement and Usage Metrics

Engagement metrics help an organization determine how they are faring overall in their CX efforts. Social mentions, sentiment analysis, emotion scoring, survey and focus group participation, and customer review contributions are all important components of measuring customer engagement (both positive and negative) and can highlight issues across the entire organization. 

They can also identify happy and engaged customers on a more individual basis, opening the door for proactive communications from the company. 

Usage metrics focus more on individual channels than on the overall experience and should encompass both digital and more traditional channels. Digital metrics include familiar web analytics such as pages visited, items per order and cart abandonment, as well as newer metrics such as navigation path analysis, mobile app downloads, frequency of use, time in app, most accessed content and conversions from accessed content to name a few. 

Usage metrics for the more traditional channels include areas such as the call center, branch or store include channel volume, one call/visit resolution and cross-sell rates per channel.

No One Metric to Rule Them All

Despite the popularity of some of these measures (e.g., NPS,) no single customer-based metric will provide the holistic view of the customer experience needed to succeed in this effort. Taken together though, these metrics can illuminate levels of customer happiness, highlight process issues and help determine team performance and efficiency. 

Low scores in any area will almost always result in the need to investigate a wide range of actions spanning multiple business areas and will require that the CX leader use transformation, cogency and cohesion to resolve.