Measurement is the backbone of modern management as it provides many of the facts that support and inform effective decision-making. So it should come as no surprise that measurement is a necessary component of the customer experience (CE) change process, whether you’re considering a transformational or incremental change to your organization’s CE offerings.
Let’s review the “what” and the “who” of customer experience measurement, which are essential to getting started…and getting it right.
What to measure?
In broad strokes, measurement can alert CE managers as to when and how change is needed and then how well the changes implemented are performing. Measurement is needed at both the relationship level and then at the transactional level.
At the relationship level, the marketing and customer experience functions in an organization must work closely together. With the former tasked with attracting new customers and the latter with keeping existing customers, both need to know:
Which product/service providers are used by customers and why;
Performance of the competition and the client company on key metrics;
Change over time in performance as measured by these key metrics;
What new trends are emerging in the marketplace.
The results of this research:
Can be modelled to identify the key drivers of satisfaction/performance excellence among both client product/service users and non-users. This would define the key performance metrics in future research.
Serve as input for SWOT analyses that will help determine if a customer experience change is needed and whether it should be incremental or transformational.
The SWOT analysis may identify areas for weakness in the current customer experience that need to be improved. These are likely to result in incremental change. Or, completely new views on customer experience may be presented requiring transformational change. In either case, additional measurement will likely be required to understand more specifically what customers want and how these needs should be met. For example, knowing that cleanliness is important to a hotel guest is critical but does not help the facility manager much. For this, techniques like customer journey mapping can lend detailed direction on how experiences should be modified or created.
Once these new experiences are in place, managers need to know how well they are performing. Adjustments may be required at the broader program level or at the individual delivery point. For this, transactional measurement is most useful. Customers are proactively contacted or asked to contact the company to provide feedback on individual transactions, usually via a specific delivery channel. Surveys are usually short, asking for a few key metrics. In cases where delivery falls far short of customer expectations, the process can serve as a tool for customer recovery. The return on investment of CE initiatives is an obvious concern for senior corporate managers. For this reason operations level metrics also need to be included in the CE management process.
Who to measure?
The obvious answer here is current customers — and that is correct. But, CE managers need to make sure that they survey a good representation of their entire customer base. Transactional surveys are the most challenging here, as the approach used by many organizations requires a proactive contact from the customer (the “How did we do today?” request at the bottom of a store receipt, for example). However, many customers do not respond to these invitations unless they have had an especially good or bad experience.
Incentives are often used to encourage people to participate in these surveys, but these add cost and may have only a limited impact. And, large incentives may encourage some to try to ‘game’ the system to get more than they may deserve. Some companies contact recent customers directly by telephone or e-mail to ask about a recent transaction. This is more effective from a sampling perspective, but requires availability of contact information — it can also be much more costly.
Other groups should not be ignored as well. Lapsed customers should be interviewed to determine why they have switched. As suggested above, non-customer category users should be contacted to determine who they are using and why, along with their awareness and image of the products and services of the client. And, we must remember the importance of employees – employee satisfaction should be measured and used in the CE management process.