Today I’m pleased to share a guest post by Martha Brooke of Interaction Metrics.

Are you achieving your goals for the customer experience? If not, you’re probably not measuring in the right way. Learn what that way is.

Companies want to give and get value through the customer experience – what are your goals? Some companies seek to deliver proactive customer service. For others, it’s about increasing customer loyalty or selling more through each customer interaction.

To achieve your goals, you’ll need to measure the fine-grained elements of your customer interactions. Only an up-close view – not a high-level view – will show you how to actually improve.

Where most companies get it wrong (really wrong) is they spend copious resources tracking the consequences of their customer experience (dashboards, Net Promoter Scores, etc.). But, they barely consider the factors that cause those experiences.

Outcome Metrics: They’re Indicators…But Too Simplistic
Outcome metrics are your results. For example, after a hotel stay, you might get a survey with the Net Promoter question: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” Your answer – if you answer at all – will be a result of your experiences at the hotel.

Outcome metrics, whether satisfaction or Net Promoter Scores, allow you to track progress over time. They’re indicators of general performance, but they’re too simplistic – and they don’t show you how to improve.

Elemental Metrics: The Actionable Alternative
The customer experience is complex. It consists of broad factors, such as connection and timing, which break down into smaller elements: smiles, frowns, word choices, answer clarity, and more.

These small elements comprise the customer experience – and they’re what you can actually change.

To uncover gaps, opportunities, and areas to improve, you need metrics that track your performance with specific elements.

Quick Example:
Imagine you own a coffee shop and want to sell more coffee. A number of factors and elements are involved:

  • Product: Do customers like the coffee? Is it burnt or bitter?
  • Timing: How long do customers wait? Is there music in the background, so it doesn’t seem so long?
  • Connection: Did the cashiers focus on each customer? Or were they busy talking to each other?
  • Competition: Was a coffee shop on the next block offering free pastries?

You’ll increase sales revenue if you improve underlying factors like coffee quality, wait time, and cashier attentiveness. But if you only look at your sales numbers, nothing will change.

Think of it like training to run faster.
To get results, you have to improve factors like flexibility, endurance, and nutrition.

Each factor is comprised of myriad elements. For example, flexibility depends on muscle strength, activity level, and body temperature. Improve each element, and you’ll run faster. But simply measuring your speed (the outcome) won’t tell you what – or how – to improve.

While you CAN’T run faster overnight, every day you CAN add 20 minutes of endurance training, 15 minutes of stretching, and eat healthier foods.

Satisfaction vs. Wow:
To manage the customer experience, you’ll need to work at an elemental level – but how often you examine your elements depends on whether you seek to satisfy or wow.

  • Satisfaction: If you’re the market leader, achieving satisfaction may be enough – and while you’ll monitor your performance on key elements, a quarterly review is probably sufficient.
  • Wow: In a competitive market, or if customer experience is one of your differentiators, you’ll have to “wow” your customers. This requires measuring and optimizing the fine-grained elements of your customer interactions – and doing so at least monthly.

Bottom Line: To lead through the customer experience, you’ll need to stop relying on outcome metrics and embrace complexity by using elemental metrics.

Martha Brooke is the Chief CX Analyst and Founder of Interaction Metrics, a customer experience agency that dramatically boosts the value of surveys, customer service evaluations, and other CX methods. Interaction Metrics offers a free MetricsLAB™; it’s a great way to learn about the pros and cons of various metrics, and the best ones to achieve your goals.