Companies are discovering a strong correlation between loyalty and customer experience. Today, customer experience management (CEM) solutions are no longer a luxury: They are a competitive necessity. By reporting actionable intelligence, customer experience programs can optimize an organization's customer service to give it a competitive edge and create a more loyal customer base.
With an increase in IT spending of 3.4 percent, research from Ovum suggests CIOs of the $118 billion IT industry are focusing on customer satisfaction and revenue growth. Additionally, a Forrester survey reports that in 2013, online retailers will get back to basics: By focusing on strategies and tactics to improve the customer experience, they will strive to increase loyalty and Web conversion across all devices.
CEM is one of Informa Telecoms & Media's top 10 trends for 2013. CEM solutions can help companies across industries improve customer experience and overall operations. By examining the metrics made available through a CEM solution, areas of improvement can be easily identified and rectified.
Any organization that wants to improve its customer experience program will need a quantifiable method of tracking the experiences of its customers. Choosing the correct metrics allows a company to compare performance across channels, as well as monitor changes in customer interactions and develop solutions to improve them.
The Best Metric Mix
Organizations have multiple metrics to choose from when measuring their customers' interactions. How do they decide which options are best tailored to their specific needs? The following criteria can help organizations filter through several strategies and arrive at an ideal blend of metrics.
1. Industry. Some metrics are better suited to specific industries. This is determined by the way customers interact with products or services and how responses are collected. The nature of each industry is the first and broadest concern in determining what kind of metrics will produce the most useful results.
2. Methodology. The level of access to customer contact information afforded to the industry will influence what collection method can be used for the survey. For example, Web-based surveys will generally require an email address. When access to contact information is limited, gateway partners are available to help retrieve this information.
3. Identifying Brand Promises. Satisfying brand promises creates a highly positive customer experience. Thus, it is important for each company to find metrics that will connect to the underlying sentiment of any brand promises. To easily pinpoint brand promises, isolate selling features that an organization promotes and find the basic guarantee within. Then find a metric to support the promise.
4. Organizational Hierarchy. Deciding which levels of staff the response results can be applied to also affects which metrics are selected. If the goal is to engage front-end employees to improve service, for example, monitoring each service interaction can prove beneficial. However, if the aim is to learn about brand perceptions, a metric focused on high-level analysis is more appropriate.
5. Channels. If an organization is tracking customer experience within a retail channel, a Web channel, and a contact center, it should decide if each division offers the same type of experience and has the same objectives. If experiences are varied, different metrics can be applied to each channel to best suit its needs.
6. Consistency. To get enough information, more than one metric must be used, but too many metrics can dilute the impact of results. The combination of metrics you use can differ for separate channels, or can be homogenous across all service points.
The Most Common and Applicable CEM Metrics
The sheer number of different metrics can make finding the right blend a daunting task. Luckily, some of the most common metrics provide the perfect solutions.
Customer satisfaction is a classic metric that measures satisfaction with an organization. It gives companies a way to increase the likelihood and frequency of a sale as a result.
Customer Effort Score measures how much effort is required of a customer to solve a problem. This metric has gained traction as organizations realize that providing easy interactions with the company as a whole is invaluable.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures customer loyalty based on explicit interaction or overall perception. Specifically, NPS measures the percentage of customers who would risk their own reputation and recommend the organization to others--the highest form of loyalty. It seeks to reward those customers who bring more business to the organization and also seeks to find ways to increase the loyalty of its average customer.
The General Question Index & Customer Experience features index options that look at multiple elements of a service interaction and are comprised of questions that address different divisions of the organization. General question indexes are most often used to provide detailed insights into customer experience.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index is an economic indicator that measures satisfaction of consumers across the United States, with similar national versions available for other countries including the United Kingdom and Singapore.
The Wallet Allocation Rule measures how much wallet share a customer spends with an organization and ranks this against other organizations. It is then possible to gain an accurate sense of customer loyalty.
The many types of metrics can initially make developing a customer experience program seem overwhelming. However, the key to selecting the right metrics is finding what will provide actionable analytics. To see improvements in collected metrics, findings should be seriously assessed and changes made based on the results. Better metrics lead to increased loyalty, satisfaction, and revenue--the essence of superior customer experience.
Syed Hasan is the president and CEO of ResponseTek.