It doesn’t matter where I go, there is always someone claiming to have the most important metric to assess the customer experience. Most of these “metrics of the moment” are unproven and often narrowly focused on one industry, business, channel or problem. Last month, I attended Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York – an amazing gathering attended by more than 1,000 customer experience leaders. Over the course of two days, I engaged with many business leaders who are passionate about their customers and attended some thought-provoking sessions – one of which served as the inspiration for this post.
An executive from Mercedes delivered a keynote in which he commented that getting Mercedes to be the best customer experience brand in the auto industry was setting the bar too low. He suggested Mercedes had to go beyond the “customer satisfaction” paradigm, saying Mercedes “had to leave satisfaction in the dust and strive to delight [their] customers by delivering the most extraordinary customer experience, bar none.”
I believe “delight” vs. “satisfaction” is the wrong paradigm. Delight may make a great rallying cry if you’re Mercedes, but what if you’re selling something less glamorous like dental floss? Will you ever really know how “delighted” your customers are with their experiences? No matter what you’re selling, “extraordinary” experiences can only happen when you exceed customer expectations. So if you’re serious about understanding and the complete customer experience picture, you need more than just a rallying cry – you need serious measurement.
If you’re ready to get serious about the customer experience, ask these questions in your organization:
1) Is there a rigorously tested foundation for our customer experience measurement?
If the CEO of Mercedes wants to leave the customer satisfaction programs of the past in the dust so be it. And honestly, the automotive industry’s old-school approach to customer satisfaction should be left behind (ever had your car salesman show you the survey you were going to receive in the mail and ask you to commit to submitting a high score?). However, when satisfaction is measured properly, it is the right unit of measure for the customer experience. And measuring satisfaction properly requires a proven measurement system that’s backed by rigorous research. ForeSee’s approach is based on findings from 80 years of social psychology research, 20 years of econometric research and more than a decade of practical field implementation at leading global organizations. The heart of our methodology is centered on consumer behavior theory, psychometrics and statistics –not some executive opinion about a metric of the moment. And peer-reviewed science should always prevail over management fads.
2) Do we have highly accurate performance metrics to confidently assess our customer experience?
Your customer experience measurement system needs to be precise enough to yield decision-making insights and sensitive enough to detect meaningful change. Think of it this way: A watch without a minute hand can be accurate, but it’s not precise. When assessing performance metrics, be sure to look at the accuracy and precision of the measurement. Accuracy means that each question you ask — and the combinations of questions you ask — have been constructed to yield consistent, objective answers that are truly reflective of the customer experience. You don’t want to skew the data (for example, by asking for high scores) because when you rely on that data to derive insights for decision-making, the unfiltered results are crucial.
3) How will we know what actions will move the needle?
Rallying around a concept like delight is one thing, but to actually move your business forward, you need to make tough decisions about which investments will positively impact the customer experience and which ones won’t. It’s all about the efficient allocation of scarce resources, which is when you want the power of combining voice of customer measurement with advanced modeling algorithms. Together, they deliver diagnostic capabilities and actionable insights. The mere concept of “delight” does not. ForeSee’s cause-and-effect framework predicts future business outcomes to serve as the basis of targeting customer experience improvements and prioritizing investments. It provides specific, quantifiable data about how changes to a process, service, aspect of quality, etc. will move the needle with customers.
Satisfaction, when done right, is already proven to be predictive of future business outcomes. We are all for delighting customers, but let’s not confuse that with measurement. While executives like rallying cries, the customer experience professionals that support them require Credible, Reliable, Accurate and Precise measurements. Anything less is just crap.
Learn more about ForeSee’s proven approach to customer experience measurement.