I’ll be honest; I have ‘love-hate’ relationship with customer experience (CX) measurement. I’ve been in and around customer experience measurement my whole career and I’ve run every kind of project imaginable — from mystery shopping through to ‘quick dip’ real-time feedback as well as comprehensive CX programmes.
Customer experience is truly ‘in vogue’ at the moment, rising exponentially in the list of top priorities for businesses across the last few years. And I agree, it is phenomenally important to commercial success but, and I realise this is a touch blunt, the ‘traditional’ method of measuring it… sucks. What’s my beef with it? In short, it’s just too siloed.
From a customer perspective, the experience is not siloed, at all. Rather it encompasses everything — from purchase to after sales service and across multiple interactions and channels — it is end-to-end. I consider that 2018 will herald this mass realisation, and the next wave of customer experience measurement: ‘end-to-end’ experience measurement.
What is ‘Traditional’ Customer Experience Measurement?
To date, most customer experience measurement has been focussed on specific interactions. The point is twofold: first, to create real time operational performance metrics and second, to identify breaking points and fix at speed. Both of these objectives can be met with programmes that implement event-triggered questions asking the customer how they feel immediately after a specific interaction. Scores and comments are fed back to real time tracking dashboards for stakeholder use.
Such programmes are an improvement on the ‘old’ customer satisfaction trackers which only reported every month. But once again, they only measure the success of one specific operational process. They do not help management understand how well the customer is experiencing their business as a whole. A customer who has had a positive interaction initially may well go on to have a negative experience elsewhere in their journey; an appointment may not be kept for example, or an action not taken — they may have to call to chase, or email, etc.
And whilst that specific interaction may be completed positively also, and your isolated measurement programmes will be saying ‘job well done’ your customer is left feeling frustrated that they had to chase in the first place! Your customer does not experience your business in isolated interactions — they are joined up, connected and with real consequences.
The ‘traditional’ customer experience measurement approach is not customer experience measurement as such; a better description would be customer interaction measurement.
What is End-to-End Customer Experience Measurement?
End-to-end customer experience measurement brings all of the ‘traditional’ specific interaction measurements together, recognising that they are all intrinsically linked. It focuses on the emotional customer experience outcomes before, during and after the customer lifetime. It is not about ticking internal boxes for process improvement, staff appraisal or production of key performance indicators (KPIs).
I should be clear, end-to-end CX measurement does not do away with current interaction measurements, rather it builds on them; bringing the specific interaction measurements together in a bigger, unified interdepartmental programme. The purpose of end-to-end customer experience measurement is to understand the CX emotion holistically (as well as by interaction), so that problem areas in this regard — those that would fall through the ‘traditional’ CX measurement net — can also be identified and insightful solutions realised.
How do you Move from ‘Traditional’ to ‘End-to-End’?
For an end-to-end customer experience management programme to be successful it needs a unified owner. Start here. This owner should exist under the rather modern C-suite title, ‘Customer Success Officer’ or a connotation thereof.
Next you need a framework. End-to-end customer experience management embraces a comprehensive feedback framework, and critically it’s about change, not just measurement. Be sure to keep the ‘traditional’ interaction measurements within your framework (do question each one though as an organisation can overdose and have way too many of these!), but add regular qual.
Monthly ‘Voice of the Customer’ focus groups eliciting expanded interaction (situation, event or process) insight depth and breadth are one ideal. The emotional understanding that can be achieved with this method will fuel change. I also suggest a customer diary method — ask customers to keep a record of every interaction they have with your brand, so that you can see how they feel between interactions as well as the impact of each on the next. Bring these diaries to life internally with ‘customer safaris’.
Invite stakeholders to take a ‘walk in the customer’s shoes’, to go on the customer experience journey themselves, between individual processes. This is a fantastic empathy exercise great for overcoming that siloed internal thinking.
These are just a couple of my preferred qual methods for end-to-end CX insight. For a complete framework broken down by brand, customer, product and employee impact see The End-to-End Customer Experience (CX) Insight Framework
End-to-end CX should be measured in terms of emotional CX improvement, whereby every interaction with your brand improves the customers’ ‘mood’. Create an internal analysis that brings all of the individual interaction measurements together so you can view as a whole, in the same way a customer does.
The Ultimate Goal…
You will know when your end-to-end customer experience management approach works because your organisational culture will change — every employee in every department will begin to ask, ‘How will that make my customer feel?’ or ‘Was that a success for the customer?’, ‘Did they leave that interaction with a more positive feeling than when they entered it?’
The end goal is a continuous drive to re-invent the organisation; a model of stepped change rather than management of the current status quo. In isolation, customer interaction measurement will likely lead to the current processes staying in place, but will ensure they are well oiled.
End-to-end customer experience management will lead to old processes being questioned, reinvented or discontinued for a truly customer centric culture throughout, increased customer retention and advocacy.