Customer experience practitioners: how do you pick the right set of metrics and construct a performance system that delivers exceptional customer impact?

Based on the twelve years I have spent driving customer experience improvement, I would answer this question by applying the following two-pronged approach: As your company transforms to provide a differentiated experience to your customers, the right set of relevant KPIs should be picked so that you track progress from the current to the intended experience, while providing what matters  most to your customers. Then anchor those metrics in your company governance.

For step 1, pick your KPI’s « outside-in » and get cross-business endorsement on what you will monitor on an on-going basis. Prioritizing metrics should come naturally from a solid understanding of what moments matter most to your customers, what drives behavior and what channel they choose. This means mapping all your customer interactions on what we call the customer journey. Customer journey mapping has to be carried out cross-functionally and needs to be formally signed off and endorsed by all key business stakeholders, including a set of customers too. At a higher level, key customer journeys are quite similar cross industries: I become aware, I join, I buy, I use, I pay, I renew, I leave. Not all journeys will influence customer outcomes such as advocacy.

It is of critical importance to understand your company’s key customer drivers and how the customer journey influences them so that actions can be prioritized accordingly. All touch points within the journeys should be measured using a mix of descriptive, perception and outcome metrics and prioritized based on their level of importance to customers. They should also  be connected to underlying operational processes. This way you link your customer outcomes, customer insights and metrics (the « outside-in » view) to important internal indicators, and their owners. For these indicators to matter and form part of the operating cycles, they need to be part of objectives and incentives, connect visibly to business outcomes and be celebrated and communicated to drive positive momentum. Bringing process owners closer to customers to bring the KPI’s to life will also anchor the metrics in the DNA of your company.

Customer journeys are not static, as customer needs and company offerings and brands evolve. It’s also important to establish appropriate timing for reviewing customer journeys, you want to avoid doing so too frequently, to avoid disrupting focus on the actions

For step 2, make sure the metrics are governed appropriately and and are supported by the executive team. This will help to drive actions and progress. Once the cause-effect relationship is established from operational KPIs to touchpoint metrics, to journey metrics and customer outcomes, an operating rhythm needs to be designed to drive all customer experience initiatives bottom up and top down. Such a system should  operate like a pyramid with frequent operational and touchpoint reviews as the foundation.

Additionally, monthly customer journey reviews act as the transmission in the middle, supplanting monthly or quarterly customer advocacy reviews led and owned by the Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer of the business unit. The strength of the sponsorship spine will hold the pyramid together. That strength is however, highly dependent on the continuous linkage to business and company outcomes. Ideally, every point of strategic NPS gain (for instance) should have a value equivalent. For example:  1 million dollar per 1 point NPS gain per year. The KPIs (and actions linked to them) lying underneath in the pyramid can then be prioritized based on a clear understanding of the drivers, the influence on the strategic NPS and the value generated. Better yet, you can allocate budgets on that basis.

Rigor, discipline and persistence in driving the right KPIs and in running these forums will deliver outcomes and close the gap between the current and e desired customer experience. I have found that asking the following questions helps improve focus and boost delivery:

  • What is the/your NPS score?
  • What is driving the score?
  • What are the operational metrics supporting these drivers?
  • What are you doing to influence these drivers?
  • How are you tracking progress?

Overall, following these steps can mean a very large scope of work over an extended period.So, it is advisable to start small, deliver proof points and expand sustainably with  the support of  your sponsor and key stakeholders.

Olivier Mourrieras is a customer experience professional and customer-centric change leader. He is the founder of CXImpact, a Customer Experience advisory and consultancy company, where he guides C-Suite and senior customer experience clients in building a customer-driven growth engine,  helping them to make their customers a strategic priority and delivering transformational change in customer experience.

He has led change plans delivering customer experience improvements in companies with over 60,000 colleagues and millions of customers. He spent 11 years shaping and delivering market leading customer experience strategies starting at Orange with a focus on B2B globally and then at E.ON addressing both B2B and B2C markets internationally. With a background in customer operations, Olivier brings a very practical and energizing touch to his approach. He provides particular expertise in defining customer centric visions, and translating them into customer impact.