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Different departments in an organization — sales, marketing, product development, etc., — often are all working towards different KPIs, but for the best brand outcomes, businesses need to find alignment between all of these different KPIs and with customer experience (CX).

Customer Experience Needs to Be Part of KPI Conversation

“In some cases, product development teams and tech teams can create KPIs and metrics that don’t help the CX team,” said Nate Tsang, CEO of WallStreetZen. “For example, when the dev team is focusing on meeting deadlines at all costs, it’s only natural that some features are going to wind up on the cutting room floor. The programmers will want to cut features that are more labor-intensive or time-intensive to build, while the product marketing team may want to cut prioritize features that help provide that ‘unique selling point.’”

As a result, it becomes easy for teams to forget the customer’s experience, especially if the CX team isn’t part of the conversation, Tsang said.

Customer experience is often treated as an afterthought, Tsang added. “But if the CX team can be included in product development and marketing, their insights can help the team avoid common pitfalls and prioritize what really makes the customers happy.”

Related Article: 6 KPIs to Measure the Omnichannel Customer Experience

CX Is a Shared Responsibility

“One of the biggest challenges organizations face with measuring customer experience success via internal KPIs and incentives is ensuring alignment across teams, departments, operational silos, etc.,” said Michelle Berryman, Capgemini principal of interactive strategy, digital customer experience. “In part this is due to lack of communication and coordination, but it’s also because different groups value different things, see the world through contrasting lenses, and may only feel accountable for those things they believe they can directly control or impact.”

However, Berryman pointed out achieving CX excellence is a shared responsibility that must be jointly and severally owned by everyone: at the individual contributor level, the department level and the executive level. This requires a cohesive brand vision, a shared set of values and a relentless focus on the customer. It also means connecting the dots, so each person and group understands how their contributions and performance contribute to the greater whole.

After this is done, various teams and departments can deconstruct broader categories such as customer acquisition cost or customer retention rate to determine how they contribute, what can be measured, what can be improved, and to align around what “good, better and best” look like within their groups, according to Berryman. “Ultimately, this creates better KPIs, more organizational alignment, more accountability and a culture of customer centricity.”

Related Article: Are Your Customer Experience Metrics Setting You Up for Success?

Balance Collective Goals With Individual Goals

While “customer-centricity” is not new, the tolerance of consumers for companies not actually delivering that promise is dissipating quickly, said from Janet Balis, customer and growth market leader and marketing practice leader for EY Americas. Consumers have higher expectations than ever before, and the bar is set by their last best customer experience. Changing reporting relationships may restructure teams, but it is unrealistic to believe that all the commercial functions associated with the customer journey be unified — it is more important to align goals.

“The key to success is a fine balance of the collective goals versus the individual goals, here defined as those specific to a particular commercial function associated with the customer experience,” Balis said. “The right balance of cross-team and individual measures enables each customer experience function to play its own position on the field while advancing the ball collectively.  And the design often requires sensitivity analysis to understand precisely what that balance might be.”

Balis recommended that teams share the growth agenda that is common to the end-to-end customer experience, at every stage of the journey.  By looking at measures of growth go from acquisition, through conversion, through purchase and experience, through retention and loyalty, companies begin to build holistic team accountability.

“These growth measures are important to connect how experiences dovetail through the customers’ eyes as opposed to through departmental lenses,” Balis explained. “These more universal KPIs tend to focus on metrics like overall revenue growth as well as brand scores (such as NPS).  Such large-scale goals are not directly attributable to a single commercial function.  For example, revenue might depend on marketing for quality lead gen, pricing and offers for conversion, and the web experience for the actual sale.  Likewise, brand scores, like NPS, reflect the collective impact of brand equity, product quality and customer experience.”

Beyond the collective measures shared by all, each function is well served by accountability for its direct domain, Balis added. For marketing, measures might be qualified leads and return on investment.  For sales teams, the best metrics are essential productivity measures of revenue relative to either people or time (often expressed as a measure of goal achievement). 

“Beyond the cross-team balancing acts of measurement, there is also the fine tension of the short-term and long-term metrics of success,” Balis said. “Customer experience tends to be measured and understood best in near-term measures, like a current campaign’s or quarter’s performance.  However, if one truly prizes the customer, then it is the relationship that must matter, not the individual campaign or sales result.”