At one time, price and quality were the main factors that counted when it came to customers buying products or services. People these days care more about relationships and customer experience, however, and 73% of CEOs are aware of this, according to the 2017 Harvard Business Review report “Closing the Customer Experience Gap.” Companies are making an effort to deliver a relevant and reliable customer experience (CX), which must be measurable to manage it successfully.
How to measure the customer experience.
The action of measuring customer experience might sound like the old saying “how long is a piece of string,” which is often used in relation to something unmeasurable or potentially infinite. The difference between them, though, is that customer experience can be measured in several different ways. By using one or more of these methods, you can form a picture of your company’s typical customer journey and identify where you need to make changes.
Why it’s critical to measure accurately.
There are multiple reasons for measuring customer experience, regardless of whether your company is a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) organisation. Some of these are:
- discovering problems that occur during the buying process
- identifying operational priorities to address
- reducing customer churn rate caused by dissatisfaction with the journey
- generating data to refine marketing messages
- improving the engagement between employees and customers.
Often, companies tackle problems they think they have, based on hearsay by customers and employees, instead of using reliable data that will give them better return on investment (ROI).
Basic ways to measure CX.
It’s all well and good to recognise the importance and value of measuring CX, but how should you approach the issue and what will it cost? Common ways to establish customer experience metrics are:
#1: Net promoter score (NPS).
The NPS method uses an index that ranges from -100 to 100, which measures how likely your customers are to recommend your company’s product or service to family and friends. The data generated by this index helps companies develop strategic ways to improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.
#2: Customer satisfaction score (CSAT).
This is probably the simplest way of measuring customer experience, which works by asking the customer directly how satisfied they are with their product or service, or their interaction with the company. To get the answer to the question, companies usually send out survey questions for customers to rate on a scale of 1 to 3, 1 to 5 or 1 to 10.
Because it’s a quick and easy method of getting information, companies can use it in multiple parts of the customer journey. This gives them a big-picture view of how the customer feels at the different touchpoints in the process. The best times to use CSAT is after a milestone in the buying process, which is known as a customer lifecycle moment, before the renewal of their subscription or account, or after you’ve provided them with customer support or education interactions.
#3: Customer effort score (CES).
Like NPS or CSAT, the Customer Effort Score or CES is one of the well-known customer experience metrics. It is a single-score measurement aimed at uncovering the amount of effort a customer must put in to get a satisfactory response from the company. This could be buying a product, returning an item for refund, getting a question answered or having a problem resolved.
#4: Customer churn rate.
This is a CX measurement that calculates the number of customers who stopped buying from a business over a particular period, which is divided by the number of customers it had at the beginning of the time.
There’s more to measuring customer experience than these methodologies, however. For one thing, the single-metric approach can be limiting, so it’s vital to use a combination of different options to develop the overall picture you want.
Going Beyond the Basics.
Going beyond the basics in experience measurement is essential for companies that want to improve customer experiences.
For example, it’s important to use the right CX metrics at the right point in the customer journey. If a customer is expecting delivery of a product they might call customer service for a confirmed delivery time. At that point, it isn’t appropriate for the agent to ask if they would recommend the company, because they haven’t even received the item yet! And considering many things could still go wrong with their purchase, the answer they might give isn’t reliable data.
Choosing the right experience measurement.
To overcome this problem, you can identify end-to-end, micro journeys within the overall customer journey. Ask the CX measurement questions at every stage to get a clear picture of the state of the customer’s experience each time. When you understand the different touchpoints and how they affect the overall experience, you’ll be better able to choose the best experience measurement for each stage.
Picking preferred channels.
Your customers have a limited amount of time, and they don’t want to spend it indulging requests for feedback—even if it ultimately results in CX improvements that benefit them. To make the process of measuring customer experience as painless as possible, keep it short and simple, and reach out to customers at optimal times using their preferred channels. That means asking a customer who has been on the phone with an agent for 15 minutes already to complete a quick survey at the end of the call might not be ideal.
Choosing the best channels for getting results, then, requires you to avoid:
- sticking to one or two channels,
- using intuition or “guesswork” to determine what might be the best channel for an individual customer,
- missing out on important data because of feedback fatigue.
Instead, by using customer journey analytics, you can find out what the most critical points are for getting feedback, and make sure you ask customers for their opinion at those points only.
Adapting to the environment.
Measuring customer experience is by no means a “one size fits all” approach, which means you can’t simply take a template and apply it to every type of business environment. How do you measure customer experience in a call centre, for example, compared with a retail environment? What about CX measurement in a digital environment like Amazon or other eCommerce companies? Adapting requires identifying metrics that are specific to the industry, the target audience, and other unique differentiators.
Typical CX metrics in a call centre include first contact resolution (FCR), which measures the ability to solve a problem in a customer-centric way the first time the client calls. Call centres also want to measure how much each customer contact costs, the average time it takes to handle a call and the number of callers who hang up before getting attention (abandoned call rate).
In a digital or physical retail environment, by comparison, the obvious CX metrics miss a lot of important data. You can measure traffic volume, frequency of visits and the average conversion rate, but all of these tell retailers how they did in the past. This is often too late to stop customer experience failures from affecting future sales. Ideally, an online retailer, in particular, wants to get real-time data on every minute of a user’s engagement, so they can begin looking for the cause of the problem long before it shows up in their sales figures.
Measuring customer experience accurately enables companies to manage it effectively, which can make a huge difference to the success of the business.