Woman walks through a street with a shopping bag past another woman with a shopping bag.
PHOTO: Dave Collier

Customer experience professionals have long been using the key performance indicators (KPIs) — loyalty, churn, retention, satisfaction and lifetime value — to measure the success of their programs.

However, according to Forrester’s 2018 customer experience research findings, most customer experience pros struggle with voice-of-the-customer (VoC) quality because “it’s painful to change customer feedback management vendors.” They make customer experience less engaging by making it easier, prioritize customer experience projects poorly and degrade product research with bias and missteps. 

The problem may lie in traditional thinking when it comes to leveraging customer data, according to Omer Artun, CEO and founder of AgilOne, a customer data platform provider. “People have traditionally used customer data for promotions,” Artun said. “Then they do segmentation and try to send it to the right people and so forth. They have realized that they can’t just compete on sending more promotions. They have to compete on something different.”

So where do they want to compete in customer experience? How do they make the buying journey easier? How do they make product use easier? How are their customers feeling along each touch point with their brand? These are some of the desires the customer experience pros we caught up with offer.

Is Our Information Helpful?

Jennifer Mellum, senior director of customer experience marketing for Prime Therapeutics, told CMSWire her team’s focus for measuring customer experience success is ease of use and helpfulness of information. “We also measure the incidence of problems,” she said, “because it's so highly correlated with the others. You can tackle those problems in a very tangible way.”

Her CX team is also focusing on providing “salient experiences,” or ones people remember for a long time. And they’re trying to ensure they measure experiences beyond the initial appearance on their website. The goal is to keep tabs on those prospects and customers who have visited a digital property in the last six months, Mellum said. “We are looking at things that become problems not just right after they’ve been on the website,” she added.

In her industry, though, they don’t live and die by the website experience. They’re looking at problems like access to health insurance, cost issues and how they eliminate those very tangible problems along that customer journey.

Related Article: Stop Using Customer Metrics to Live in the Past

Tying Experience Back to the Mission Statement

“My ultimate experience metric would be ease of use and helpfulness of getting their health insurance,” Mellum said. “How easy was it for them to understand their drug coverage and to get the medicine they needed?”

Ultimately this is about tying the customer’s experience “back to our purpose, our mission statement as a company,” Mellum said. What product or service are we truly providing? Are we measuring customer experience success to ensure we're faithful to our mission? "We’re committed to helping people get the medicine they need to feel better and live well," according to Prime's website. Mellum said her customer experience metrics must see everything from a client’s perspective and enable her team to carry out the company's mission statement.

How Is Our Product Doing?

Experience along the buyer’s journey is super important to the customer experience professionals we caught up with recently. But what about using the product itself? That is a major customer experience metric goal for Susan Lalonde, director of customer experience for SMART Technologies, which offers the SMART Board technology.

The company has a wealth of users who purchase their software. How is their experience as they deploy it? What did they think of the content inside the software experience? “We're just starting to roll out how we start to get that in the product, so that they can tell us the experience on the browser as they’re using it,” Lalonde said. “We can tell what section they’re in. Do they hate it? Do they like it?”

Again, it comes back to company vision — inspiring greatness. "Our Mission is to provide simple, intuitive and connected solutions to help our customers inspire greatness in themselves, and the students, colleagues and teams they interact with," according to the SMART website.

“It’s really about the child and the student and learning,” Lalonde said. “But our vision is for teachers to be able to make that learning experience easy for the child or whoever's learning.”

Related Article: Measure Twice, Act Infinitely — As if Your Customer Experience Depends on It

It Comes Back to Simplicity

Like her customer experience counterpart, Lalonde sees making things easy as a crucial outcome for a customer experience metric. Her customer experience team focuses on two personas: Richard, the tech buyer, and Donna, a school superintendent. “I want to know about their buying journey. I want to make it simple for them,” Lalonde said. And I want them to have a positive experience. And I want to be able to measure it and understand where and how they need help. Because then we would know where they might be struggling and where we would get them help.”

Tying it Together Through 4 Customer Experience Pillars

When building a customer experience metrics framework, Artun of AgilOne sees four important viewpoints:

  • Customer: How many customers do I have? Am I retaining them? Am I providing value?
  • Product: What product am I selling?
  • Channel: What’s my average order value? How's my revenue? What are my margins? How is discounting going?
  • Interactions: How many emails are getting open? How many people are browsing? What's my NPS score?

“These are things that are precursors of what is about to happen or why something has happened," Artun said. "In each of those, there are KPIs that you would measure … and then the next level down, you start correlating these four things together.”

What’s my high value customer retention? Is it the same as my low value customer retention? What are my KPIs between customer and product? Are my high value customers buying something differently? Are my new customers buying something differently? It’s important to not only drill down customer experience by demographics and geography, but also the portfolio of high, medium and low value customers, Artun said.

“The other dimension is understanding their behavior,” he said. “They might be buying the expensive stuff but do they return a lot? Do they have a tight community that they share in? Is there retention? Are they loyal to a specific retailer? Or do they shop everywhere? What's their category behavior? Do they buy everything from me or just the cheap stuff? That’s where behavior becomes very important. In all of those cases, you're looking at the customer from a different lens.”