How to Measure Customer Experience

Present a consolidated view of customer experience metrics across the organization to achieve improvements.

More than 5,000 organizations worldwide now have a dedicated customer experience (CX) leader, more than 40% of whom report directly to the CEO, according to Gartner research. This increasing level of CEO oversight shows the importance of CX to the bottom line, hence the need for measurement, says Ed Thompson, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Customer experience metrics have several uses,” says Thompson. “They can be used to communicate the rationale for previous investments; validate whether improvements have taken place; set goals and targets for future improvements; or intervene when remedial action is needed.”

Some metrics used don’t measure customer benefit at all

Most large organizations with revenue of more than $1 billion have more than 50 CX metrics — some as many as 200 — all owned and managed by different people in different parts of the organization.

Customer retention or loyalty metrics are often owned by someone in marketing, first call resolution metrics are owned by the customer service department, repeat orders are owned by the finance department, and timeliness is owned by the supply chain team or operations.

5 types of metrics

Although the number of metrics used is large, most fit into five categories.

  1. Customer satisfaction (CSAT). Most organizations start here. This can involve either the explicit capture of survey questions asking about satisfaction or implicit metrics, such as product review ratings, timeliness of delivery statistics or mystery shopping scores.
  2. Customer loyalty/retention/churn. These metrics can be retrospective, such as average tenure, or more predictive of the likelihood of a customer remaining a customer. Examples include purchase frequency; use of multiple channels; loyalty program participation; average order size; repeat orders; and return rates.
  3. Advocacy/reputation/brand. These metrics determine the level at which customers would be willing to recommend or endorse the product and/or organization. Price sensitivity, sentiment scores on social media, trust ratings and event participation are all good examples.
  4. Quality/operations. This is the most underestimated set of metrics. When a product or service does not meet requirements, the customer experience is poor, no matter what actions are taken to remediate the problem.
  5. Employee engagement. This fifth set of metrics is included in perhaps only 10% of CX initiatives. A Gartner survey identified employee engagement as a major concern in delivering CX improvements, with 86% of organizations ranking it as having an equal or greater impact than other CX challenges.

Some metrics used — such as cross-sell, upsell, or cost of sale or campaign response rate — don’t measure customer benefit at all. Make sure to understand when a metric is not a CX metric, so as not to encourage wrong behavior. An example would be selling a financial product under the mistaken belief that it is part of a CX initiative.

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Present a consolidated view

Avoid focusing only on one top-level customer experience metric, such as CSAT or net promoter score (NPS), says Thompson.

Instead, consolidate all the relevant metrics into a customer experience dashboard or weighted index that covers as many aspects of employee engagement, quality, satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy as possible, and share it across departments.

Repair and maintenance staff within a field service department, for example, will be able to see the average wait time for customers in the contact center and anticipate irritated customers if wait times are high.

Consolidate all the relevant metrics into a customer experience dashboard

Although senior executives tend to prefer to use only one or two metrics to summarize the whole of the customer experience, that approach does not show where to focus to effect change.

“Improving the single top metric relies on improvements in multiple lower-level metrics,” Thomson says. “It’s better to help people accountable for the lower-level CX metrics to improve outcomes for the customer, contributing to the top-level scores.”

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