With NPS survey response rates dropping into the single digits and customers who outright lie on them—or exhibit a “selective memory” when recalling facts and details—can you really expect to measure the customer experience?
Yes, absolutely—if you know what to measure.
Knowing what and how to measure the customer experience begins with understanding the customer journey though your customer journey map. If you don’t understand the customer journey, then you won’t know what to measure—and will probably measure the wrong things and make the customer experience worse.
The customer journey mapping process discovers the customer activities and interactions that have a disproportionate impact on customer loyalty. These are the Moments of Truth—the critical emotional experiences that shape the customer’s perception of your brand.
When you understand these critical interactions, then you can leverage four types of customer experience data to measure the customer experience.
The first kind of data you need to measure the customer experience is behavior data—what the customer does or does not do. Most companies have vast amounts of behavior data they aren’t using because they don’t know which needles to look for in the haystack.
This is why understanding the journey is critical. For example, if your customer journey map indicates that “receiving the first bill” is a moment of truth, then measure customer behavior related to that activity. Did the customer pay the bill? Did they call the contact center? How do these activities correlate to their likelihood to remain a customer after the first bill?
Customer behavior is a strong form of “voice of the customer.”
Here are a few more examples of customer behavior that I’ve encountered when working with clients. These examples are specific to the customer experience we were measuring—they are not universal:
- Clicking a link in an informational email
- Attending an annual conference
- Calling tech support three times in one week
- Updating software settings at the end of a fiscal year
- Filing an extended warranty claim
The best thing about behavior data is you don’t have to ask customers for them. There are no surveys to send or focus groups to conduct. Look at what customers are already doing as they interact with your product or service along the customer journey.
Every department in your company has operations data—it’s the data they already use to measure and manage their own performance. Consider metrics like call center response times, product quality, or the speed of order fulfillment. These data offer invaluable insights into friction points in the customer journey—as long as they matter to customers as well as your company.
Just because you’re measuring and managing an operational metric doesn’t mean it’s improving the customer experience. Improving call center response times might seem like a good idea, but maybe your limited resources are better served correcting the product defect that the customers are calling about.
The key to using operations data to measure the customer experience lies in your journey map. The operations data must correlate with a customer friction point or Moment of Truth. If the customer doesn’t care about the metric, then it’s not a customer experience metric. For example, the sales team’s close rate is very important for the business, but not for customers.
The third type of data you can use to measure the customer experience is financial. Beyond the actions and feedback of customers lies the concrete realm of financial data. It’s essential to understand how customer interactions translate into dollars. Metrics like payment timeliness, contract renewals, customer acquisition costs, and lifetime value give a quantifiable measure to the customer experience.
If a segment of customers consistently renews contracts or pays more, it could be a testament to their trust and satisfaction. Conversely, high costs in acquiring or serving customers could indicate potential inefficiencies that impact the customer experience.
Avoid the temptation to treat financial data as king—consider the market factors impacting your customers’ choices. Are customers locked in to a “loveless marriage” because you’re the only game in town? Is the competition so bad that you look good?
Take the financial data back to your customer journey map for validation.
Yes, we’re finally going to talk about surveys.
And social media. And online reviews. And support tickets. And feedback from your contact center agents or customer success managers who talk to customers every day.
All of these are valuable listening posts to capture customer sentiment about your brand—as long as they work together with customer behaviors, operational performance, and financial data to inform the health of the customer journey.
I worked with one company where customers raved about the “helpfulness” of the contact center agents—yet there was no statistical correlation between “agent helpfulness” and customer satisfaction.
Customer feedback is a goldmine of customer experience data when you understand the journey and ask the right questions at the right time. It’s not about NPS vs. CSAT or relationship vs. transactional surveys—it’s about measuring the interactions that matter most.
Think about it. Would you recommend a laptop based on a call to tech support? No, you’d recommend it because of its processor speed, screen resolution, light weight, long battery, or some other product features that were important to you.
It’s all about the journey.
Modern organizations are swimming in data—drowning, in fact—and they’re struggling to organize, correlate, and leverage the data to grow profitably.
I encourage you to shift your perspective—go back to your customer journey map. Identify the moments that trigger customer emotions, good and bad. What do you know about customer behavior, operational performance, financial impact, and customer sentiment in those interactions?
The customer journey map is the key to selecting the right data to measure the customer experience.
This article was created as part of the Vistio Knowledge Collective.