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The State of the Union on Customer ExperienceMeasurement

Annie Balant

June 12, 2017

If you've seen the Nosedive episode of Black Mirror, you'd have been introduced to a world where everything from what kind of car you're eligible to rent, what type of seat you're eligible for in a plane to what type of apartments you're eligible for are determined based on you social media status.

While the story may be far from true at an individual level, the reality is already here for brands. Brands are under more pressure than ever to connect with customers in a unique and positive way. Brands face increasing scrutiny from all angles online and offline. Think about it - how many of us have avoided a restaurant because of a poor Yelp rating or cancelled an Uber driver with a bad review – or selected anything from a doctor to a convenience store based on scores we see online? Consumers have more input and higher expectations than ever before, and brands, more than ever, have to bring their “A” game to keep up.

Brands have worked hard in the last 20 years to try and get in front of this and set themselves apart based on customer experience. Since the late 90s, brands have used Customer Experience Measurement (CEM) programs to better understand and anticipate customer's needs. However, all too often these programs are very limited in scope; some just end up with a number that languishes on a fancy dashboard. Most of these programs do little to further understanding of what causes behavior and improve relationships with customers. So how do brands get to know how they're perceived by customers? How do they understand what to do about it?

“Dear brands: It's not me, it's you”

How did we do? Super? Great? Good? Fair? Poor?

CEM, or Customer Experience Management was created with the goal of crafting a better experience for customers – the intent being to “meet or exceed customer expectations” thereby increasing customer loyalty.1 This idea certainly has popularity on its side, with estimates of 90% of companies having some type of CEM or customer satisfaction program. But, the question has to be asked – how well does it work? Many senior marketers have said they lack confidence that their companies understand the CEM programs already in place.2

Is it actionable?

CEM programs are by nature, reactive rather than proactive. Think about it; we’re measuring what has already happened. Customers give feedback about their experience, good or bad, but it’s limited. What was the context? How applicable is it to other customers? It can be surprisingly difficult to tell.

These programs can highlight when a problem exists but can’t identify what to fix – and more importantly how to innovate a better experience.

Is it what the customer needs?

CEM programs can, and often do get stuck in operational compliance, sticking to a structure and process that a company has established based upon internal processes and requirements. We should be asking whether that process is right for the customer.

Think of it like a store where the employees are evaluated on whether they wear their name tags, but not on whether they helped a customer find what they are looking for. Is the customer going to really care about the name tags? If they don’t get the help they were looking for, might they take their business elsewhere?

Where do we go from here?

How does a brand move beyond measuring customer satisfaction, to making it better? The next progression of customer experience is to evaluate the customer journey. The basic idea of customer journey mapping has been around for years – at its most simple, it is a diagram that shows the customer’s interactions as they engage with your company.3 When it started, it was simply used as a visual way of presenting multiple channels of customer interactions (e.g. digital, phone, radio, etc.) so that marketers could better communicate their messages in different channels.

We believe customer experience professionals can leverage this tool, but as a way of visualizing customer emotions and understanding their expectations. We care more about the why – what makes customers do certain things. The holy grail of customer experience measurement is to really make the most of the information available, to take the next step to design a better experience for the customer.

How do we do that? Read on...