How Your Customers Measure You

By: Guest Blogger

March 2, 2017

customer experience
customer measurement
Clarabridge Analytics
Clarabridge Engage
Contact Center
Customer Experience
Customer Engagement

By Dale Roberts
VP Professional Services EMEA

Are you measuring for your benefit or are you genuinely looking for ways to stay ahead by improving the customer experience? If you do want to put customers first, you need to think like your customers. Do you understand how your customers measure you?

Measurement Motivation

Some companies use metrics creatively. For example, French hotel group Accor have a ‘thank you score’, the number of social media complaints that are resolved to a point where the customer concludes with a closing expression of gratitude.

And Pret A Manger CEO Clive Schlee made the headlines in the Guardian newspaper when he revealed that he measured ‘touches’ in his stores. The number of times staff respectfully touch each other as they brush past each other in a bustling sandwich shop turns out to be a useful indicator of staff engagement. Schlee claimed that he could almost predict sales on body language alone.

Conventionally though, business tend towards customer satisfaction or Net Promoter Scores. Corporate news sites are littered with headlines such as ‘we are top for customer satisfaction’, ‘ranked first in our industry’ or the somewhat overly self-congratulatory ‘we top the list for most improved’. (Yes, we were terrible but our customers forced us to do something about it by leaving in droves.)

Using scores in this way has the faint air of score chasing rather than looking for indicators of staff or customer happiness.

Robust and routine measurement of the customer experience is to be applauded. But if the intent of all that measurement is for anything other than improving the customer experience then it’s use, beyond inevitably brief bragging rights, is pointless.

Customer measure from the outside

Businesses focused on customer experience think like their customers. They know that customers don’t consider their experience in the way that most businesses think they do.

Customers measure you, but they certainly don’t assign you a score then rank you relative to industry classifications. They instinctively know that their experience with you is good or bad relative to whatever else is going on their life.

Are you number one in your sector? Who cares? Your customers are comparing their experience of you with every other business they have dealt with recently, from Apple to Zappos. The bar is being set higher and higher, and it is probably not your competitor setting it.

Customers are multi-dimensional

Similarly customers are multi-dimensional. They are not making a decision based on a mechanical response between 1 and 3, 5 or 10. Net promoter skips to the sum of our experience by measuring intent, but the why gets lost in summarizing the what.

For example, I regularly recommend Everlane, Lush, and Toms, but it has nothing to do with how easy they are to do business with or my level of satisfaction in the moment. I am not thinking in terms of customer effort score or satisfaction. It has everything to do with how they conduct their business.

I am not alone. According to Cone Communications, over 8 out of 10 consider social and environmental impact before they would recommend. And, out of Forrester’s Effectiveness, Ease and Emotion scores, it seems that feelings are the number one driver of loyalty. Score that.

Customers don’t care about your score

To quote Kerry Bodine, customer experience speaker and co-author of Outside In, is there anything that shows you don’t care more than by asking the customer a single question on a ten-point scale?

You take it, aggregate it and share it on your web site. You might even share your ranking in independent studies that you and your competitors work hard to stay on top of. Your customer doesn’t care about that, either. Over three quarters of travellers look for their next trip on social networks, they don’t trawl through the J.D. Powers North American guest satisfaction study extended stay segment.

The Edelman Trust Barometer has measured our trust in institutions, in business, government and media for over 15 years. In 2009 as social media took hold, a new category emerged: “A person like yourself”. Our trust in each other has continued to grow every year since. Our trust in businesses and business leaders, meanwhile, continues to shrink.

Customers don’t share scores, they share their experience

When customers share an NPS rating or a customer satisfaction score, it’s not so you can rank, benchmark or trend. That’s your business. They are sharing because they want you to keep doing what works and stop doing what doesn’t.

That requires an understanding of the customer journey, not just how that last transaction went.  It requires the rich context that customers share when they email, chat, tweet, post or, if things have gone horribly wrong, call you. The customer’s own voice gives us perspective and action-ability. A single score is more of a comfort blanket than it is a metric.

So are you chasing a score? Ranking, trending, justifying? Or are you trying to work out what you focus on next to improve the experience for your customers?

When Schlee observed how Pret A Manger staff interacted he measured what customers measured, unconsciously: staff happiness. He knew that happy staff created an environment that customers would return for. He wasn’t looking at his business through a count or calculation. Instead, he was measuring how customers measure– with their emotions. He was looking at it through his customer’s eyes.



Dale Roberts is VP of Professional Services for Clarabridge, author, commentator, columnist, and speaker. As a professional services leader for Clarabridge in Europe, Roberts is advising some of the world’s largest companies on optimizing the customer experience using social and digital insights. Prior to this he was part of the founding circle of Artesian Solutions, an innovator in social CRM and a Director of Services for business intelligence giant Cognos. His first book, Decision Sourcing, is an inspiring commentary on the impact of social on corporate decision making. His latest, World of Workcraft, is a timely piece on engagement, motivation and digital humanism in the workplace.

Dale is one of the top thought leaders in big data and analytics by Analytics Week, a contributor to business and technology publications including Wired and ClickZ and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Follow Dale on Twitter: @DaleSRoberts.


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