As marketers, deciding on how to measure customer experience can be tricky. From conversion rates and customer satisfaction to marketing spend and customer retention, you can likely generate a long list of metrics in short order. But do they come together to show how customer experience adds value to the company? Or are they just individual numbers on a chart?
“When it comes to customer experience metrics, marketers have to speak the language of business leaders in terms of revenue, profit, efficiency and savings,” said Wilson Raj, global director of customer intelligence at SAS. “In order to connect marketing measures to these business outcomes, you need to take a holistic approach to measurement.”
SAS is a sponsor of CMSWire’s virtual DX Summit Summer Session, taking place today, July 29. Raj will present the session, “Go Beyond Attribution for Holistic CX Measurement,” from 2:15pm - 2:40pm ET. We spoke with him about the challenges marketers face when measuring their customer experience efforts, and what they can do to ensure their metrics tie back to business outcomes.
A Big-Picture View of Customer Engagement
CMSWire: What are the biggest challenges organizations face when measuring their customer experience initiatives?
Wilson Raj: Consumers have so many choices when it comes to engaging with brands. While that’s a good thing, it makes measurement difficult. Because today’s digital customer experiences are so dynamic and fluid, everything boils down to the customer's device-hopping behavior as they compare prices and find the best deals. Measurement must be able to support and keep up with all of these behaviors in a very timely, accurate way.
The second challenge is the amount of technology available — not just measurement technologies, but also engagement and experience technologies. An average brand can have as many as 10 different platforms, with some reaching 100 technologies — many of them redundant and disconnected.
Lastly, many marketers think they should measure first and understand later, as opposed to figuring out what’s really providing value to their business first. As a result, brands aren’t connecting digital metrics to outcomes in a thoughtful way.
CMSWire: What does it mean to have a holistic approach to CX measurement, and why should organizations take this approach?
Raj: Consumers engage with brands on different levels, starting with simple interactions like browsing your website. Deeper involvement happens when a consumer downloads content, views a technical video or watches a webinar. From there, it gets more personal. This is where they’re truly consuming the products or services and engaging with different parts of the business — whether fulfillment or customer success.
Traditionally the customer experience has focused on simple interactions. But consumers today want deeper engagement using technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality and chatbots. If brands want to accurately show how marketing affects every level of engagement, they need a holistic view of the journey — from discovery to exploration to conversion.
Aligning Measurement to the Customer Journey
CMSWire: During your presentation, you’ll discuss how unified CX measurement aligns to the customer journey. Can you say a little bit more about this?
Raj: One of the key things about this approach is measuring at different touchpoints and outcomes. There are interaction metrics such as social media Likes and shares, and then there are outcome metrics, which are those tied to value, such as cost reduction, revenue and profitability. Along with those metrics are the different levels of engagement we discussed above. Marketers must look at the customer journey, find out where they can impact value, and then measure.
For example, one of our bank customers discovered that their biggest opportunity was in reducing churn rates. That meant focusing on metrics that show how they were resolving service challenges in real time. They also looked at early indicators for churn, including number of service calls and number of complaints. They found that conversions were going down while complaints were going up.
When they took steps to improve those numbers, they discovered that a 5% reduction in overall defection rate led to an 8% conversion lift. While working to reduce churn, they also analyzed which content was more likely to help consumers convert — such as special offers — and then delivered that content. From a holistic viewpoint, they looked at one big area they wanted to impact (churn), and then analyzed the customer journey change in terms of how that churn would affect engagement, exploration and actual conversion rate for their bank products.
CMSWire: How do other types of measurement approaches like mixed modeling and attribution modeling fit into a unified CX measurement model?
Raj: Marketing mix modeling takes a top-down approach by looking at the high-level effectiveness of media mix on the customer journey, while marketing attribution is bottom-up, focusing on the individual impact of digital media, such as display or video ads. While both of these have a value charted along the customer journey, they’re determined in different ways, which means they don’t quite meet in the middle.
For example, mixed modeling is great for allocation of media, but not very effective in gathering granular performance insights for things like customer behaviors across touchpoints. Attribution modeling, on the other hand, gives you a great granular focus, but it can’t effectively measure offline media, in-store interactions and other kinds of external touchpoints. During my presentation, I'll show the benefits of both, and how to merge them by using the customer journey as the hinge point, with analytics across both sides.
Best Practices for Effective CX Measurement
CMSWire: What are your top recommendations for organizations that want to take their customer experience measurement to the next level?
Raj: First, change your mindset. Ask yourself: How do we express these metrics in business terms? For example, if you talk about campaign response rates, link them to incremental revenue. Show how cost per lead reduces customer acquisition expenses and lowers costs. Or link customer SAT scores to reduced service costs. That's what leaders will pay attention to.
Second, don’t focus on past performance. Most marketers report on activity and costs rather than metrics that the business can use to set direction. Rather than reporting on what's happened for qualified leads and conversion rates, focus on what you can do to make those conversions happen.
Next, because data is a huge part of the process, worry more about accessing the data than centralizing it. Marketers spend a lot of time trying to consolidate their data. It’s more important that you’re able to access that data so you can get the metrics you need.
Finally, look for ways to keep up with all the new data coming your way and adjust your measurement models accordingly. You can do this by offloading cumbersome data aggregation and calculations to AI or machine learning technologies. That way, you can begin to think holistically about the value you’re providing to your customers and the business.