Every company wants to create amazing customer experiences. Implementing a world-class customer experience management program is one thing — but how do you know whether your efforts are producing results?
There are lots of metrics you could rely on to provide an indication of how effective your company is at managing the customer experience. From tracking referral business to surveys, online reviews and ratings, activities in your customer service or technical support departments, and many others. But which measure is a true indicator of the customer experience, and is there a one-size-fits-all metric?
To find out, we asked a panel of customer experience, customer success, and customer intelligence experts to answer the following question:
“When it comes to managing customer experience, what’s the single best indicator or metric of success?”
Find out what our experts had to say below.
Meet Our Panel of Customer Experience Experts:
Mike Schultz is the President of leading global sales consulting and training firm RAIN Group, a faculty member in the marketing department at Brandeis University, Publisher of RainToday.com (110,000 subscribers), and author of the Wall Street Journal bestselling Rainmaking Conversations and Insight Selling.
“Everyone thinks how they measure customer experience and satisfaction is the most important. It’s equally important to measure satisfaction with…”
Their purchase experience, or what happens before they become a customer.
The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research recently studied 700 B2B purchases from buyers that represented $3.1 billion in purchasing power. The idea was to identify what the seller who was the winner of their business did differently from the seller who came in the closest second place.
One of our major findings was this: the buyer’s experience in the buying process was as strong an indicator as their satisfaction with what they bought regarding their likelihood to remain a loyal customer.
The results showed that sellers who focused on the following areas were most likely to build satisfaction with the buying experience.
1. Connect. Sellers that satisfied buyers did a better job connecting the needs of the buyer with their offerings as solutions to those needs, and did a better job connecting with buyers as people.
2. Convince. Sellers that satisfied buyers did a better job convincing buyers that the rewards were worth pursuing, the risks were worth taking, and that buying from them was the best choice.
3. Collaborate. Sellers that satisfied buyers did a much better job educating buyers with new ideas and perspectives (which the buyers saw as collaborative), and directly collaborating with buyers as if they were ‘working to achieve shared goals as if they were on the same team’.
Steve Gibson is the Director of JotForm, a popular online form builder that lets you create forms without writing a single line of code. It has close to two million customers, spanning small businesses to large corporate IT staffs to teachers and individuals.
“I work for an online form builder, so our customer experience is different than someone who interfaces with clients personally. I find the best metric of success is…”
Volume of active customer versus the volume of support threads. If people are happily using our product and rarely have technical issues, then we’re doing a good job. They’re happy, your support staff isn’t overworked, and your documentation and UI are working as expected.
So, the best measure of customer experience success is if customers are engaged with your product and you seldom hear from them, except for perhaps a nice tweet or blog mentioning their positive experience.
Patrick holds a B.A. from Ferris State University in Marketing & Sales and brings 15 years of customer service, operations, and sales management experience to Joybird. He is well versed in customer resolution management, training, workforce management, and technology. Patrick and his team have a relentless focus and commitment to exceeding customer expectations.
“We measure customer experience very simply and that is through…”
The customer’s own positive reviews about their experience with Joybird after they receive their item(s). There is nothing better than getting the information written straight from their perspective, because at that point it becomes very real. Everything they say and write matters. Everything.
Preeti Sinha is the CEO of Infinis Consulting. Sinha is an entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in customer excellence, marketing, and management consulting.She started her career as a customer service rep at Citimortgage. She is passionate about customer excellence and entrepreneurship. She is a CNN contributor.
“The single most important metric of an exceptional customer experience is…”
The overall customer satisfaction rate. As customer experience involves multiple touch points, overall customer satisfaction rate provides a holistic view and is a 30% better predictor of customer satisfaction than measuring for each individual interaction.
Sioux Messinger is Founder and CEO of Cream of the Crop Leaders, which offers top-rated and highly-interactive Five-Star Customer Service Trainings, including A Hero-Based Approach and Executive Presence Workshops for Customer Service Leaders. CEUs for HR Leaders (SHRM + HRCI), Accountants, Nurses and other healthcare providers are complimentary to participants.
“For managing customer experience, the ultimate indicator of success is…”
A five-star customer service review. Since posting a review takes effort, a five-star review is the ultimate sign that you’ve exceeded customer expectations. Think about when you’ve gone out of your way to post favorable comments: you’ve done so because your expectations were more than met — you were left with a wow. In today’s times, it’s essential to create favorable online reviews. Doing so is easy and fun. Teach your employees to look for opportunities to be your customers’ hero. Look for and solve problems unique to each customer, and do so like it’s your honor. This system also boosts employee morale, which then creates more return on investment for your organization. Your employees will love it. It’s a great feeling to make a customer’s day. After all, everyone wants to be a Hero.
Executive Coach, Author, Professional Extraordinaire, Chavaz is a referral-only Speaker and Executive Consultant who has worked with companies in the private and public sectors, including the leadership of Fortune 200 Companies.
Multimillion dollar corporations’ executives know Chavaz as their go-to person because he provides individual attention, unyielding commitment to excellence, and an unprecedented level of integrity.
As an author and speaker, Chavaz is known to stand firmly as one who simplifies complex professional problems and personal issues, using a “put it in layman’s terms” style that has been praised by scores of employees, entrepreneurs, and executives.
He has provided managerial development material as well as work-life balance text to leadership of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) as well as the US News & World Report 2013 top ten pediatric health specialty facility, the Children’s Mercy organization. In addition to being a catalyst for corporate success, Chavaz has a passion for the arts and community enrichment.
“The way to measure customer experience success is…”
NOT by repeat business from existing customers!
The way to measure customer experience success is by the quantity and the quality of business generated by referrals, generated by your existing satisfied customers.
Sometimes your existing customers become complacent in the fact that you are their go-to person. These customers are less likely to recommend your services to those they know. However, like social media, where people post things that others will enjoy in order to increase their own value in the eyes of others, people will recommend your business services as a means to increase their own professional or personal worth or value in the eyes of others.
When you are consistently generating new business from referrals, then you know that you are producing customer experience success that is transferable, deliverable, and can be tangible in your organization’s bottom line.
Rich, CEO of OneReach, is passionate about technology and communication and believes that technology can help drive better and more meaningful interactions between
people and businesses. Rich has helped to create several technology startup companies over the last 10 years and has created compelling solutions for various industries, including DSL, Networked VPNs, Text Messaging, and Data Analytics.
“The best metric that indicates customer experience success is…”
Customer behavior and interaction with your product/service. Activities are the single best indicator for success, as they can trace how long customers have been around, how long they have interacted with your product, what parts of your product they are not using, etc. For example, if they’re not using a certain channel very much, you can see where they fall out of the process and where you can improve the customer experience.
Some people rely on surveys, but surveys are just a backup to determine if the knowledge you gained from customer data is right. Similarly, NPS tends to be around what customers say, but that may not reflect interactions and experiences. It’s important not to go off what people say, but instead go off of what they do. Measuring and tracking actual interactions, instead of asking “How did you like our service?”, gets to the heart of what people are doing and how they interact with your product.
Jim Pendergast is SVP for CX Excellence at Sage.
“Most companies are missing a key element when it comes to customer experience metrics…”
Companies and their customer experience-focused employees often concentrate on the traditional benchmarks of customer experience measurement, including Net Promoter Scores (NPS), customer renewals, and customer satisfaction scores (CSAT). What’s missing is an outcome measurement. What should be focused on, first and foremost, is what makes a successful customer. What customer value propositions do you create? What’s the customer propensity level of consumption of these value propositions? Considering these questions will allow you to understand and measure a) if your original customer value propositions are off-target, or b) if customers are having trouble consuming your value propositions. Either way, a customer consumption metric is at the heart and soul of the actual customer experience.
Adaobi Kanu is Head of Customer Experience at Maclaren, a leading global consumer products brand in the parenting industry. She specializes in consumer engagement, service strategy, and integrated digital experiences. Adaobi has an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Dance and in Physics from Bryn Mawr College.
“When it comes to measuring customer experience…”
Silence is golden.
The single best indicator for success in customer experience management is silence. If your customers don’t communicate with your brand, you may actually be doing something right.
It’s natural to expect praise for a job well done, but in everyday life, how often does this happen? Children rarely thank parents for maintaining a clean home and employers don’t offer praise with every task completed. People are less likely to tell you when something goes right, because in the age of the savvy shopper, a seamless experience is expected. When something goes wrong, however, your customers are infinitely more likely to speak up.
Always take advantage of this feedback. In this sense, customer complaints are not always bad. You can use this information to design an experience strategy catered to your customers’ needs. Let the volume of customer care inquiries become a barometer for your management success, and your company will start moving in the right direction towards a healthy customer experience.
Steps to manage and improve your customer experience strategy:
1. Voice of The Customer: Monitor positive (or negative) public mentions (usually via social media). This unsolicited feedback provides insight into what you’re doing well and where you can improve.
2. Complaint Reduction: Use existing feedback to help develop new tools or instill new processes that improve customers’ interaction with your brand. Refer back to these comments to evaluate your success rate.
3. Net Promoter Score: If things start to get quiet for our customer service team, that’s a good thing! Now you can take time to focus on likelihood that people advocate for your brand.
Company and customer relationships evolve over time and change with every interaction. Customer experience management means working to ensure a reliable, smooth experience: one that is so seamless, people never think twice about the process.
Mark is Customer Experience Manager at Helpling, an online cleaning services marketplace, and has previously worked in business development and consulting for companies around the world.
“There is no single best metric to measure customer experience management success. What you need is…”
A collection of data points that not only allow you to get a sense of your customer happiness “thermometer,” but also collect actionable insights that enable you to develop your service to increase satisfaction. For example, you can have an NPS score of 0% with an average as low as 4.5 or as high as 8.0 out of 10, which are radically different pictures of happiness, leading to totally different plans of action.
To answer the question in its strictest terms: If I had to choose only one KPI, I would use Customer Effort Score (CES). While the relative importance of effort as a driver of satisfaction differs depending on your company’s business model — e.g., selling shoes online vs. providing legal advice — it is a measure of one thing that all customers have in common: using your products and services should be as easy as possible. Nobody wants to expend more effort if given the choice.
Dane Carlson is the Marketing Communications Manager for Resilient, the maker industrial LED lighting products for manufacturing, transport, and heavy industry.
“When it comes to managing the customer experience, the single best indicator of success is…”
Was the customer able to find what they were looking for?
Keeping track of whether or not we’ve answered our customers’ questions is absolutely key. We’ve spent so much time and money developing our internal knowledge — about our products and about our services — and yet, sometimes there are communications issues that prevent our knowledge from making its way into the hands of our customers. Whether before a sale, or after, it is imperative to keep track of whether or not you’re actually answering your customers’ questions.
We have developed a system to track why a customer contacted us in the first place, the answer we provided, and whether or not the customer found that solution to answer his question.
No matter how much money you pour into your marketing and support team and associated resources, it is all for nothing if everyone is not efficiently and effectively taking advantage of it.
Ben Scandlen is CEO of The Way Company, a growth marketing company, and an innovative marketing executive who has driven growth and created exceptional customer
experiences in the airline, financial services, and education sectors. He has led major re-branding efforts, creation of world-class digital properties, and major strategy changes through the adoption of marketing innovation.
“The single best success metric in terms of managing customer experience is…”
Net Promoter Score (NPS), if it is implemented correctly. Many companies will do one broad survey and include NPS as a question and think the job is done, but the key in implementation is to measure at every customer interaction point. To understand your customer’s experience, ask your customer when they first purchase, ask your customer after they visited your store, ask your customer after a service call, etc. Then you have a comprehensive understanding of their experience. An implementation done correctly also requires you to address the issues you find through your surveys, but because you have been measuring across the customer life-cycle, you will have a great understanding of how your improvements are affecting your customer experience.
With a relentless focus on consumer experience, Chris is uniquely skilled in managing online communication channels. Combined with an in-depth knowledge of the digital era and a sharp analytical mind, he is able to creatively develop the FlexMR brand in accordance with a constantly evolving industry.
“Customer experience is a complex and varying set of interactions between a customer and organisation…”
The sum of which is the degree of satisfaction a customer has with the process. It is unfair to give such an important role a single numerical value such as a CSAT score. Instead, a much more appropriate measure of customer experience success can be achieved at a granular level, where each interaction is considered in isolation.
I tend to adopt an approach which maps the customer journey. This provides a clear representation of every possible interaction a customer can have with the organization. Basic research is carried out at each point on the map to gauge customer opinion of the process thus far. The final, measured map can be used to pinpoint outstanding areas of customer satisfaction success, as well as areas for further improvement.
Cheri Spets Farmer
Cheri Spets Farmer is a veteran sales manager with 20 years’ experience. She was a VP & Director of Sales for a company that owned 26 television stations. During this time, a major focus of the company was account retention. Most recently, Farmer consults companies, where one of her roles is coaching other managers.
“There’s one guaranteed way to know that your customer is happy…”
A referral. If your customer is willing to put their own credibility on the line and recommend your organization to another business, you know they’ve had a positive experience with your company.
Lauren Edvalson is the Owner of Edvalson Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency based in Sacramento, CA. Lauren specializes in online marketing strategies including SEO, SEM, and customer advocacy programs serving clients in the home services industry.
“For customer experience management, the most important measures of success are…”
Hands down, referrals and five-star online reviews. Companies that put an emphasis on serving their clients well will organically see an increase in referral business. Word-of-mouth is a great way to measure client success. When you find clients willing to sing your praises to friends and family, you are doing a great job. Companies should have a process in place to measure that. Besides that, every major online directory gives consumers the opportunity to rate their experience. More and more, we research a business online before we decide to call or visit the business. Those five-star reviews are a powerful indicator of client satisfaction.
Jim oversees operations and strategic client relationships for Clutch, advising premier brands on customer loyalty, consumer intelligence, and marketing engagement. He served as Director of Operations for ProfitPoint, a leading gift card provider, prior to its acquisition by Clutch. Previously, he served operational roles for Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Hotwire Communications.
“When it comes to measuring the customer experience…”
Truth be told, there is no silver bullet metric to measure customer experience. In fact, this is a trap many brands fall into, causing them to lose sight of valuable emerging customers; they focus squarely on revenue and ignore important KPIs related to frequency, channel-engagement, social evangelism, and SKU mix. Many of these elements are indicators and predictors of successful customer experience and engagement. Successful brands are looking beyond the traditional revenue metrics as they realize that successful customer experience is a long-term initiative that can’t just be about the transaction.
Chip R. Bell
Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books. His newest book is Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service. He can be reached at ChipBell.com.
“The obvious measures of success for an organization include…”
The growth of customers (especially the type of customers that can best impact the bottomline), increased share of wallet, increased market share, increased sales, and deeper relationships (i.e., the customer buys more stuff, not just spends more on a single purchase). A more subtle measure is when customers give more and are willing to invest more than just their funds in the well-being of the organization. Harley-Davidson fans wear H-D clothing, thus promoting the brand. Starbucks fans participate in Starbucks community service efforts and contribute to Starbucks Foundations. But the best measures of success are related to evidence of customer advocacy. Stop asking customers, “Would you recommend to a friend or family member?” and start asking, “Have you recommended us to a friend or family member?”. Behavior is a better measure of customer loyalty than intention.
Marjorie Bynum is Vice President of Education and Communications at the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business (SOCAP) International, a professional society with 2000+ members committed to promoting customer care and customer engagement as competitive advantages in business, based in Alexandria, VA. In her role as Vice President, Marjorie oversees all of SOCAP’s education programming and also manages the organization’s PR/Communications activities.
“When it comes to managing customer experience, one of the best metrics is…”
Customer retention. Customers return to your product or service because they have positive experiences (whether in person or online), with their needs and expectations met and even anticipated by a company. This is particularly true with social media, where customers are interacting 24/7 and are three times as more likely to recommend a brand when they have a good experience. It is therefore important for companies to leverage the right CRM systems to measure and monitor customer loyalty and retention. By monitoring all channels and engaging with consumers, whether that is via social media, a phone call with an agent, or an in-store interaction, companies can achieve the highest levels of success. A constant increase of customer retention is the single best indicator of success.
Arnab Mishra is the President and Chief Operating Officer at Transera. With almost 20 years in leadership roles, Arnab brings extensive product management, business development, and customer management experience to Transera. In his current position, Arnab is responsible for the company’s product, engineering, marketing, service delivery, and alliances functions. Prior to joining Transera, Arnab held product leadership positions at Alcatel, where he led the team responsible for the definition and positioning of Genesys’ core customer experience platform offerings.
“With customer experience management, the single best indicator of a successful customer experience campaign is…”
An organization’s Net Promoter Score. This acts as a barometer of customers’ feelings of loyalty towards a company. The higher the score, the more willing these customers are to act as ‘brand ambassadors’ of sorts, providing positive references to others about the company and its products.
When a customer has a positive experience, they’re much more likely to return to that company again in the future, and that experience in itself increases their loyalty. In turn, the more loyal a customer feels, the more likely they are to not only continue purchasing the company’s products, but to recommend that others do so as well.
Ultimately, a better customer experience creates more loyal customers, increasing a company’s Net Promoter Score and the overall success of their business.
Ryan O’Donnell is the Director of Marketing at Avalara TrustFile.
“When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of customer experience management programs…”
Cohort analysis is the single best approach to monitoring and reporting on who is coming back and at what cadence. With it, businesses can separate users into groups and determine how ‘sticky’ their application is. We use it as a proxy for customer experience at the highest level.
Ana Levley is the President of Levley Marketing. She relies on both direct marketing and personalizing content to create a long-lasting online community. Levley believes that an online community can be created from strategic planning, best practices, following and sharing trends, and new ideas.
“The single best indicator of success when it comes to customer experience is…”
When you get a referral from the customer, I believe that is the greatest indicator of success. Whether that is the customer sharing your company online saying, “You’re the best,” a good Yelp review, or a word-of-mouth referral. That indicates that you did an amazing job with this customer, brought them real results, and made them happy. As a result, they want to share your company with the world. To me, their happiness and willingness to share your business is the greatest indicator of success with customer experience.
Idowu Koyenikan is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and consultant. As a Principal Consultant at Grandeur Touch, LLC, he helps individuals and organizations break through to new levels.
“With customer experience management, one of the best indicators is…”
Customer feedback. What are your clients saying about your company? What are they saying to your customer service representatives or sales reps in person, or about your company on social media and in reviews? It is important that you have the necessary tools in place to capture such feedback. Tools such as customer satisfaction surveys and follow-up calls let you know how well you are doing.