Having a clear design for delivering strategic change to your business, using both technology and people, is only the beginning of your transformation journey.
The measures you use to judge your current efforts against future success will be just as important as the implementation of any solution.
Many measures often focus on customer service, which is just one element of customer satisfaction. An over-reliance on narrow, departmental views won't help you build a clear picture of how your customer perceives your business.
By gathering information from a variety of sources, with carefully selected metrics, you can begin to obtain the knowledge that will empower you to gauge the ease of your customer experience. If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.
With this in mind, you need to understand, early on, what metrics should be used; determine a baseline before implementing improvements and know how you'll continuously monitor these in order to understand the real impact of transformation initiatives on your customers.
Here are a few examples of common measures, how useful they are, and how they can reveal your road to success.
Sources of insight
Key customer satisfaction measures
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Customer Effort Score (CES)
Customer Retention Rate
First Point of Contact Resolution (FPOC)
Some additional measures
How to successfully measure customer satisfaction
The broader your sources, the more likely you are to identify and account for bias. They often include:
These can be delivered in real-time or post-interaction, through a multitude of channels and touchpoints.
Experiencing the customer journey for yourself, or utilising professionals to test thoroughly on your behalf.
Customer complaints and feedback
The reasons your customers are contacting you is always good insight, and often relatively easy to obtain.
While they should be approached with caution, as the opinions of few can dictate the future for many, they are useful to understand why your customers make the choices they do.
Primary customer research
Often commissioned from professionals to create an in-depth conversation with your customers and prospects.
Talking to your staff
They are often closest to your customers and subsequently, the issues they face.
Key customer satisfaction measures
One of the more widely and traditionally used measures simply asks customers to rate their satisfaction.
This score is typically obtained by asking the following question:
How satisfied were you with the service we provided today?
Very unsatisfied / Unsatisfied / Neutral / Satisfied / Very satisfied
The percentage of customers that respond with satisfied or very satisfied is calculated as the CSAT score. By merely satisfying your customers your CSAT scores can be boosted, so this measure is now viewed as particularly unchallenging for businesses seeking to deliver differentiated and superior customer experience.
While somewhat useful as a measure for individual customer interactions (like a service call or product return) it doesn't support understanding sentiment towards the wider journey.
The measurement of customer satisfaction on its own is no longer an indication of customer loyalty. NPS gives insight into this by asking your customers the question:
On a scale of 1-10, how likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?
Recommendations typically involve a level of commitment far higher than a simple satisfaction rating – you wouldn’t want to make a false recommendation to people you care about. This level of emotional commitment is seen as a far better indicator of likely customer loyalty, and thus profitability.
The NPS score for a business is measured by taking the percentage of detractors (scoring 6 or less) and deducting it from the percentage of promoters (scoring 9 or 10). A score of 9 or 10, required to be counted as a Promoter, implies far greater levels of customer advocacy than for the relatively unchallenging CSAT measure.
NPS is less useful when used as a transactional measure, and can often obscure your view of the overall experience. For instance, while a customer may have had a great interaction and scored you highly, it may not reveal that the customer has had to call multiple times to resolve an issue.
This is most valuable in assessing your wider journeys and understanding the overall sentiment of customers toward your business.
There are strong correlations between customer ease and propensity to purchase. CEB research shows that 96% of customers who are forced to exert high effort to resolve issues become disloyal.
A CES question seeks to understand where customers experience unnecessary difficulty, asking:
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest effort, please indicate the total effort that was required by you to complete your transaction or resolve your issue?
By measuring the average score of your responses you can monitor the impact of any improvements and, crucially, whether there is a tangible reduction in customer effort.
This is another useful measurement for understanding discrete elements of your customer journey and can measure things like how well support requests are handled, or how easy making a purchase is.
Research by Bain demonstrates that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increases profits by anywhere from 25% to 95%.
Understanding your retention rate, whether through repeat purchases, upselling or renewals, is important to illuminate significant issues. However, you will need to employ this in concert with other measures to understand, and act, on the root causes.
This measures the proportion of queries that are resolved during their first contact, whether that be through phone, email, face-to-face or other channels. FPOC can uncover where internal handoffs, decisions and processes are potentially impacting customer satisfaction.
Average speed of answer
A useful measure of how long, on average, it takes to answer a call. However, be wary as averages can hide a lot of richer detail and are easily skewed by extremes.
Average handling time
This measures how long the average duration of a call or online request takes to resolve. This can be useful for capacity planning, but not as a measure of satisfaction.
The proportion of customers that give up before their call is answered. This is a useful ongoing metric and can also inform capacity planning.
Grade of service
This measures the percentage of calls answered within a specified time frame, for example answering 70% of calls within 30 seconds. This has been widely discredited as a measure of customer satisfaction due to the arbitrary nature of the time window included in the measure.
Many of these are not great measures of customer satisfaction by themselves and, more often than not, simply measure symptoms, without uncovering root causes.
There's little evidence to link elements such as length of interactions and how satisfied a customer is. Ultimately, all your customers will care about is how well informed people are, how empathetic staff are, and whether issues or queries are resolved. In fact, studies in 2017 found that customers are willing to wait up to two minutes in a call centre queue, provided the subsequent interaction satisfied their need.
Customers will interact with you across a number of touchpoints throughout their experience with your company. As such, it’s vital that satisfaction with a discrete interaction isn’t confused with their satisfaction with the experience as a whole, except where the journey is so simple that that they are, indeed, one and the same.
By understanding the overall sentiment towards your journey, whilst utilising more transactional measures to understand where your customers' expectations aren't being met, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to drive swift, effective improvement.
Establishing a baseline is possibly the most crucial step of the measurement process to ensure that you have before and after pictures to genuinely measure the success of any improvements that will affect the customer journey and experience.
You can only measure what you manage, and the reality that no two customer journeys are alike can quickly derail any progress if not measured accordingly. A failure to monitor and record your progress can leave you in danger of losing sight of what you are trying to achieve, treating symptoms of poor experiences instead of getting to the heart of the causes.