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Customer Experience Isn't a Metric, So What Should You Measure?

Customer experience is currently one of the hottest terms in business. It is thrown around in board meetings and monopolizes conversations about everything from marketing to product development. But what is customer experience, really?

The jargon mob has already attacked those who'd use it synonymously with "customer service," and "customer journey" is equally ill-fitting.

For me, customer experience is the catch-all term we use to define brand success -- a sort of "how do we stand in the market" terminology we throw out to prompt empathy for customers. Holistically, it's pretty intangible.

What Do You Actually Care About?

Do you really care about your customers altruistically? Chances are your business is trying to turn a profit. What you really care about is your bottom line -- and that's not a bad thing.

When we cut through the verbiage, what really matters to your company is 1) remaining profitable 2) keeping customers happy so they buy more and more often 3) attracting new customers to grow your business. That's where you should measure.

Customer experience is just the conduit to profit. If you execute poorly as a company, your profits fall. Where are you losing customers? Where is money wasted? Where are you driving down profits?

Profits and Measurement

Here is where we drill into what makes that arrow go up and down. If you want to make a positive change to your business, you must first look at where you are losing. Audit your company regularly and solicit feedback. Identify problems and fix them.

  1. Does your product work?

    If the answer here is a "no" -- even if it is a "not well" or "not as well as the competitors" -- you have a big problem. Fix your product, do it better than your competition, then deliver on the rest. Know who your market is and whether they are satisfied. Use analytics to determine satisfaction and quickly snuff out potential issues. Measure perception of your brand and product and work to repair it for higher returns.

  2. Where do you do business?

    People care about convenience. Think about it. Do you prefer to drive long distances, or shop nearby? It doesn't matter if you are B2B or B2C, convenience is king. Can customers reach you on the phone? How about via email, Twitter, or a pop-up chat? Online customers do business digitally and require a brand in "close proximity." Not having a presence on customers' preferred channels makes you an inconvenience, which limits your appeal.

    A study from Accenture found that 73% of consumers become frustrated when companies fail to offer convenient interaction methods. That frustration turns into lost business and lost profit. It's why omnichannel platforms continue to skyrocket in popularity. Companies need to open more doors for customers to enter their shops. Measure your traffic and open doors for greater cash flow.

  3. How long do customers need to wait?

    Have you ever seen a line and thought "Nope, not worth it?" People value their time, so if you take too long to fulfill customer needs, they will move on. Similarly, inefficiency costs your company money. The faster you finish with one customer, the quicker you move on to process another's order. Wait times matter across all elements of your business -- sales and service included. If a customer calls your company and has to hold for 30 minutes, your company a) has an inefficient process b) is losing customers to competitors that can answer faster.

    In a Five9 study, 38% of respondents blamed long hold times for rage against customer service and intense frustration. Measure your lines, wait and hold times, and determine ways to speed things up.

  4. Is buying a comfortable process?

    Sometimes companies are their own worst enemies. They make buying difficult. Long lines aren't their only problem. They are inefficient across the board. It's another iteration of timewasting. Do you have old dial directories that make reaching the right representative difficult for your customers? Maybe try an advanced ACD system to get your customers to the best available agents without sending them through the labyrinth. Are you loading and tracking your customers' information across channels, or do they need to repeat their histories every time they transfer to another department? Try using a unified CRM. Do your sales reps have the right information to market things the customer actually wants? Give your agents tools to track and drill-down into customer needs.

    In the above mentioned Five9 study, respondents also listed not reaching a live person on the phone (48%), getting disconnected (44%,) and having to explain issues multiple times (40%) as reasons to be frustrated with a company. Measure the steps it takes for a customer to make a purchase (or solve a problem) and reduce it to the lowest number possible.

Measure Money

In conclusion, customer experience is a concept of empathy that drives profit, but metrics make the world go round. Don't just use vague jargon to define your market. Measure your money. If your company wants to make more money (which I assume all companies do), find ways to lower costs, improve efficiency, and deliver a superior product. Look at your customer interaction channels. Do you have the most up-to-date technology? Is your inbound call center armed appropriately? Is your outbound calling informed? Make sure you are doing everything you can to simplify customer interactions, and you'll surely see a higher return.