a measuring-stick rule stick in snow, standing upright.
PHOTO: Ian Webb (jukebox)

Customer experience professionals know they have to measure customer satisfaction but also struggle with which key performance indicators (KPIs) to deploy, according to a KPMG’s Global Customer Experience Excellence report. “There is the challenge of understanding where to make appropriate investment and which key performance indicators to monitor,” KPMG researchers said. “The link between customer experience and business performance tends not to be understood. Some companies are investing in unsuitable metrics and subsequently risk losing interest in CX as they do not appear to be receiving the expected returns.”

CX Measurement Is a Multi-Pronged Approach

Where should CX professionals place their energies in measuring CX programs? Where can they get the returns many of them don't get, according to KPMG? Of course, it varies by organization. Many organizations deploy the Net Promoter Score (NPS), but stopping there won’t be the right move. "People often stop at NPS,” said Julie Hogan, VP of customer experience at Drift. “Well-structured customer experience programs should influence much more.”

Hogan suggested using the acronym SEAD as a guide, and start measuring the impact your CX efforts have on:

  • Sentiment and satisfaction
  • Engagement
  • Adoption acceleration and advocacy
  • Dollars

“Everything you do should be in service to the overarching goal of influencing dollars,” Hogan said. “Dollars expanded, renewed and referred. Measuring customer sentiment, satisfaction, engagement, adoption acceleration and advocacy become your key leading indicators."

Related Article: Net Promoter Score Metrics Are Not Enough

NPS Still the Go-To

This is not to say CX professionals are abandoning NPS. Not even close. Brandon Cook, director of marketing at Great Heights, said the most important thing his teams look is the Net Promoter Score. “What we like about using this mechanism is that it boils the feedback loop down to one single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” Cook said. “While we do track other metrics to ensure the health and bandwidth of our team, their ultimate success is based on the Net Promoter Score.”

Tracking for ‘Unsolicited Compliments’

Alexa DeKalb, founder of NYC Search & Social, said her agency tracks something that is explicitly not asked for: unsolicited compliments. These small, but important, notes can be as simple as a "Thank You!!!,” she said. They can include when a client makes sure that a manager is CC'd on an email to someone they manage so they know they're receiving praise. "When a client goes out of the way to compliment our work, we know that they're extremely pleased with our service,” DeKalb said. “It might not be as immediately revenue-producing as a referral, or a direct business lead, but it signifies to our team that this relationship is going well, and is in a potential spot to upsell or ask for a case study shortly.

Tracking Repeat Customer Rate

One important customer experience KPI that organizations should monitor is repeat customer rate, or repeat purchase rate, according to Hassan Alnassir, a marketing manager at Premium Joy. “When customers are happy with their purchase from your company, they're obviously more likely to make additional orders in the future,” he said. “A good repeat rate to maintain as a business is around 20 to 40%, according to at least one estimate.

Repeat customer rate can be calculated by simply dividing the number of repeat customers by the total number of customers then multiplying by 100, based on a specified period of time, like a month or a year.

Related Article: 6 Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Strategies Not Directly Tied to Revenue

Ticket Resolution Time

Mike Kazmirchuk, SEO specialist at SupportYourApp, finds an important KPI is ticket resolution time. According to a Zendesk survey, 52% of customers switched vendors because of a bad customer service interaction. “An average ticket resolution time surely takes part in this decision,” Kazmirchuk said. “How fast can your team deal with customers’ requests? If it takes them longer than the clients would care for, then you have to look into resolving this issue. Analyze how much time is there between the first inquiry and full resolving of the ticket.”

For example, first and second tier support consultants are supposed to resolve tickets in less than 24 hours. Anything higher than indicates that your team is too busy and needs additional help, according to Kazmirchuk. “In general,” he added, “it all comes down to this — your team needs to spend as little time to resolve the issues as possible while being at their most effective and helpful.”

Christine Cummings, director of sales at Onyx, said her teams deploy First Call Resolution (FCR): what is the ratio of calls that are resolved with the first call? "First call resolution is key as it plays a major role in reducing customer churn rates,” she said. “The higher FCR rate your organization has, the less your clients require calling back. This equates to less calls and a more effective operation.”

Cummings’ teams also look at Average Handle Time (AHT): "How long is the average call?" she asked. "Though this is a delicate balance, you want your center to operate at the lowest AHT without sacrificing service.”