Customer Experience Central to Success of Digital Organization: BVEx Community Insights

Smiling business man holding digital tablet giving business women high five both are smiling.
Robust customer experience (CX) is the holy grail of not only the marketing team but also the CEO and board of any digitally astute company. No wonder, then, that customer-centric language and metrics pepper any executive conversation to do with business strategy and performance. However, the danger of such everyday currency is that overuse can obscure meaning and purpose. In order to shine a light on CX practices and understanding, the Business Value Exchange put a key question to its community and the wider crowd:

Which metrics and vocabulary of digital business effectively measure and incentivize successful CX and other drivers?

As important as identifying the key elements of CX as a business driver – a popular topic of conversation among our crowd – was stating what it is not. Sam Hurley (@Sam___Hurley), Managing Director at Optim-Eyez, did this adroitly. “Remember, customer experience is not customer service [CS]. CX is a measurement of sentiment and interaction… CS is just the interaction itself.”  

Central to commercial success

He went on to explain why CX has become central to the modern organization. “All businesses are digital businesses, as almost all touchpoints in a customer journey have been connected. To measure the journey, you must collect raw data and transform [this] into a series of events, paths and tasks.”

Ronald van Loon (@Ronald_vanLoon), Director at Advertisement, confirmed the centrality of CX in defining the success of today’s organization. “To be successful as a company, you need to be relevant and create a better experience in the customer journey. This is the main driver for success.”

Tiffani Bova (@Tiffani_Bova), Global, Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, expanded on the theme and highlighted the growing relevance of CX. “Customer experience and revenue-generating activities are no longer mutually exclusive. While these two areas become more intertwined, traditional metrics such as quota and pipeline generation alone don’t suffice as definitive success metrics. The quality of the customer experience is now key to setting top-performing sales teams apart from the rest and therefore has also become the top KPI type used by sales organizations.”

What to measure, and how

With the position of CX firmly established as a driver of business and success, contributors were keen to expound on the bread and butter of their job: what and how to measure. Augie Ray (@augieray), Research Director at Gartner, kicked things off. “Customer experience is measured in satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. Those are perceptions held by customers that impact their likelihood to repurchase, the share of wallet they dedicate to the brand, and the word of mouth they will contribute that increases brand awareness, trust and inbound traffic.”

A businesswoman uses a tape measure to measure the growth of an upward pointing graph projected on a concrete wall.

These are not inherently ‘digital’ measures and Harold Jarche (@hjarche), Principal at Jarche Consulting, highlighted that ultimately CX boils down to something simple and tangential. “There is only [one] metric that matters and that is the retention of a satisfied customer.”

Terry Cain (@SimplyTheBestCX ), Principal at Pinwheel Partners, put the same point another way: “The key metric is revenue recurring [through customer] renewal. Simply put, the customer is voting on value by placing orders.” In this way, he argued, motivation in digital is not markedly different from any other experience and rated significant measures as including time to purchase, ease of use, consistency, integrity, reliability and accessibility.

@Ronald_vanLoon also reiterated that CX need not necessarily be digital. “The most important metric when measuring and incentivizing successful CX is how likely the customer is to recommend your service, product or brand to others. If they think they had a great experience and your company is relevant, then they will.

Digital measures provide nuanced insights

Nonetheless, the beauty of the emerging discipline of CX is that it can be measured in digital ways, such as online surveys, customer engagement, positive feedback on social media, and so on. Furthermore, as @Tiffani_Bova pointed out, other digital metrics can be correlated to improvements in satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. For example, increased engagement with a corporate blog, greater participation in branded community or improved online ratings are all signs of improved CX.

In this way digital metrics provide a business with greater control, while a variety of CX levers can be utilized to precisely analyse customer sentiment in all its contextual complexity and help fine-tune a brand’s response.

The CX metrics toolbox

@Sam___Hurley spelled out the CX tools of the marketer and CX professional, and revealed his personal favourites. “Customer Experience success can only be effectively measured when appropriate metrics are applied. My top three picks are:

“Net Promoter Score: NPS is the percentage of your customers who would (or wouldn’t) recommend your brand to their friends, family or colleagues. It can be accurately measured through one-question quantitative surveys, with typical scales from one to 10. NPS scores are calculated by subtracting brand detractors from the brand promoters.

“Customer satisfaction or CSAT: [This] is the average satisfaction score that customers rate an experience they had with your brand. Like NPS, CSAT can also be measured by sending out surveys, asking customers to rate their level of satisfaction on a scale of ‘not satisfied’ to ‘very happy’.

“Customer churn rate: The percentage of customers who 1) don’t make a repeat purchase or 2) cancel their recurring subscription. This can be calculated by dividing the total number of lost customers by the total number of active customers for selected periods of time.”

Debbie Szumylo (@DebbieSzumylo), Customer Experience Manager at Thomson Reuters Elite, explained how she incorporates these metrics into broader data to produce meaningful insights. “In its most simple form, we look at three pillars of data: our financial score, people or human-to-human score, and then product or human-to-system score. Each pillar encompasses multiple data points, including things like revenue, operating income, NPS, CSAT, at-risk analysis, customer health, software update service and user experience. The results help us determine our customer happiness score.”

Man in suit choosing a smiley face on a survey panel

Adam Toporek (@adamtoporek), Customer Service Expert at CTS Service Solutions, agreed with the desirability of aligning metrics to strategic goals. “The key to measuring successful customer experience improvement is to have metrics and benchmarks that are aligned with strategic goals. Whether it be NPS, average handle time or a specific internal metric, the measurements used must contribute to larger organizational objectives, while at the same time be monitored to make sure they do not produce unintended consequences.”

Beyond the CX dashboard

Critically, a couple of contributors made the case for CX to contribute value to both the business and to customers. To measure this, it’s necessary to reach beyond the usual toolbox. Mike Wittenstein (@mikewittenstein), Managing Partner at Storyminers, said: The most important thing to measure is the value CX initiatives create for customers and, in turn, their customers. At Storyminers, we call it the customer’s value. It’s not always a bottom line-oriented number. To some, it’s about convenience. To others, it can be about time savings, safety or emotional satisfaction. Typically, it’s a combination of both accounting-oriented and soft-side benefits. For each client, it’s different. That’s why we don’t drive our efforts at a single number all [the] time.”

Similarly, Jim Bass (@jimbassCX), Director, Client Engagement at ADP, talked about engagement.One great way to measure the success of CX is the level of engagement your customers have with your business. What percentage of your customers are your trusted advisors? How often do they share improvement suggestions to you? Are they helping you to position your business for success in the future? Another great CX measure is employee engagement. How connected are your employees to your brand promise? How easy is it for them to deliver the brand promise to the customer base?”

Need for big picture

Gartner’s (@augieray) argued that good CX is bespoke and can’t be blueprinted. “There are touchpoints where digital will be more important or essential, other customer touchpoints where digital plays more of a support role and still other touchpoints that may not involve customer-facing digital technology. Working with partners across the organization to understand where digital plays an important role in lifting customer satisfaction and measuring digital’s contributions at those touchpoints is more important than defining a digital-only customer experience strategy, set of metrics or vocabulary.”

In conclusion, Pinwheel Partners’ @SimplyTheBestCX confirmed the central paradox of customer experience. “CX metrics in the digital age can be a host of metrics that are interesting, but light on meaning. After all there is only one metric that will continue: great service to customers and employees.”

Popular CX Metrics

Contributors chimed in with their face metrics, including Shep Hyken (@hyken), Chief Amazement Officer and Owner at Shepard Presentations, LLC, and author of The Amazement Revolution (www.Hyken.com). “I like simplicity, therefore I’m a fan of Net Promoter Score. Used correctly, it gives you the big picture to how customers feel about the experience they have with a company. That score, followed up with an open-ended question, such as ‘Why did you rate us that way?’ gives both quantitative and qualitative data. Another open-ended question I like for customers who did not rate the company a 10 is: ‘What would it take to move our rating up by one number?’”

Tommy Ussery ((@Tommy_Ussery_JRT)), Director of Business Intelligence at The JRT Agency, said: “From a web content perspective, I focus on engagement rate rather than bounce rate. When they engage your content is both informative and digestible. When you have the right content and message, success will follow.”

Sean B Hawkins (@SeanBHawkins)), Manager of Support and Product at Housing Partnership Network, wrote: “To measure the success of customer experience, I focus on customer satisfaction and effort, first contact resolution and quality assurance. Customers are looking for a resolution that is accurate, swift and takes minimal effort. Each of these can provide insight to our centre’s ability to meet those expectations.”

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Helen Beckett

Author: Helen Beckett

Helen Beckett is the Community Manager of the Business Value Exchange. She has been a writer and editor for over 20 years and takes a particular interest in the challenges facing the CIO in today’s business climate.