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It’s time for more meaningful measurement of CX

This article is based on ideas from my recent book, Meaningful Measurement of the Customer Experience, now available everywhere.

If you ask most business leaders what their primary measures of success are, they can probably tell you pretty easily. But when they are given reports with statistics on a regular basis, the information presented starts to cloud the judgement of those reading those reports. In other words, if you are shown a specific set of measurements on a weekly basis for a good amount of time, you may start to believe those numbers are more important than they may be in reality. Meaningful[i] measurements are needed to make substantial decisions in business, and we need to be careful about the data that influences those decisions.

That’s true when it comes to the importance of measuring customer experience in order to understand what customers’ perceptions are, where to make improvements, and how your organisation can make the best use of the resources available. In this article, I’m going to define what I mean by meaningful measurement of CX.

The role of meaningful measurement

Not every metric and data point you collect may fit my definition of meaningful measurement. The purpose of this category is to provide customer experience professionals with a set of metrics that translate directly into descriptions of solutions to key business challenges that drive bottom-line decisions. In other words, even if customer experience is a priority in your organisation, you will still need to justify to executive stakeholders, shareholders, and potentially others, why you need further resources, or why you are performing exceptionally (and ideally both).

Meaningful measurements, then, will give you the ammunition that you need to help your organisation do its best work and continue moving towards a more customer-centric culture.

The components of meaningful measurement

First, we can define who it is to be meaningful to. In this case, we are concerned with value to the organisation. So, a meaningful measurement is one that is impactful to the business.

For a measurement to be meaningful to a business, it must be:

  • Impactful to the bottom line
  • Be usable by others within the organisation
  • Able to be acted upon
  • Able to be replicated in the future

From these requirements I have created four dimensions of meaningful measurements for customer experience:

Dimension 1: Consequential

First, your measurements need to be substantive enough that they are demonstrating a real pain point, opportunity, or game-changing leap forward. I call this dimension consequential, because whether it demonstrates something positive or negative, it isn’t just a metric that sounds good or bad. Its measurement has an impact on the business in one way or another.

According to a Smarter CX Insights report in 2018, 57% of CX professionals say they are unsure of what measurements are needed in order to indicate their customer experience is improving. To me, this means that nearly 6 in 10 customer experience professionals aren’t clear what the consequential numbers are in their business. This is a huge problem, and it underscores some of the challenges I often hear, where companies say the customer comes first, yet fail to back that up with investments.

Dimension 2: Understandable

With real-time insights peppering us with data points, surveys, website metrics, email statistics, CSAT scores, financial results, and with sometimes hundreds of other measurements at our disposal, it is easy to get overwhelmed. What’s more, some organisations have their own methods of calculating success metrics, whether those are sales numbers, customer loyalty numbers, or any other number of critical business KPIs.

Having customised calculations of your metrics can make sense for highly specialised businesses, but it is critical that those measurements are understandable by those responsible for interpreting and understanding them. Put another way, if you want to demonstrate either your success in customer experience initiatives, or your need for more resources in order to improve them, you need to provide your measurements in a way that is easy to make sense of by someone who isn’t necessarily a CX expert.

Creating and using more understandable measurements will have the added benefit of opening up the dialogue between teams so that they can more meaningfully contribute to discussions and initiatives to improve those numbers. While I’ve been a bit harsh on the Net Promoter Score (NPS) at times in the past, this is actually an area where a universal, easy-to-calculate measurement can be incredibly helpful.

Dimension 3: Actionable

You can have the best ideas or most compelling argument for why something should happen to improve your brand’s customer experience, but if you don’t make your case in a way that is actionable, you’re simply going to have frustrated customers—and employees.

That same Smarter CX Insights report I referenced earlier also found that less than one-third of customer experience professionals stated they had access to the information they need to truly improve their customers’ experience[ii]. Make sure to provide measurements and data to the teams that will help them take actions. Sometimes this requires diving in deep with your teams to understand what they need to do their jobs and fulfil the type of customer experience you want them to enable.

Dimension 4: Repeatable

While there might be a use case where this doesn’t apply, it is rare. One of the hallmarks of a meaningful measurement is its ability to provide a baseline to use as a comparison to illustrate growth in performance (or a decrease in performance, as the case may be) over time.

If you can’t recreate the measurements you are taking, whether because it is too difficult, the systems in place don’t allow repeat measurements, or some other reason, then their value will be dubious over time.

While every organisation is different, focusing on the four dimensions in this article will enable you to find meaningful measurements for customer experience in your organisation. I wish you the best in your CX measurement initiatives and may you find meaningful success!

[i] “Meaningful.”
[ii] Perry, Beth. “The CX Snapshot – October 2021.” Oracle Blogs.