7 Habits of Successful Customer Experience Measurement

Companies need to understand the ever-changing needs and expectations of customers. Customer experience measurement (CEM) programs enable organizations to collect voice of the customer feedback instantly and obtain a better understanding of customer experiences and sentiment. This real-time feedback empowers companies to react quickly, capitalize on success, or course-correct efficiently.

Let's look at seven habits that form the foundation of successful customer experience measurement:

Involve others right from the start.

Your research team typically represents the voice of the customer in experience measurement programs. And while customers are important voices, it is essential to bring other perspectives into the conversation. If groups, such as operations and finance, are going to be measured in the CEM program, they need to be engaged in its development. That's the best way to win their trust that the measurements are fair and create a sense of ownership among all stakeholders.

Pick a research partner that's a cultural fit.

The process for selecting a market research partner for your CEM program is similar to selecting an advertising firm for your firm. Cultural fit with your organization will play a decisive role in separating the vendors. Closely examine how you work and be sure your partner's culture aligns with your culture. For instance, if you like to be kept apprised every program detail, you want a partner who intuitively works this way. Or, if you need your partner skilled at presenting in front of the CEO, be sure the company has these capabilities.

It's not about the score; it's about improvement.

Don't make a score the focus of your CEM program. Human nature tells us if the goal is a number, the mindset of people will be to hit the goal score and after achieving it, focus on maintaining that score. No matter the goal score or history of service to the client, the top goal of CEM is to drive continuous improvement. And then celebrate your successes by being sure to make heroes out of the people who use data to gain insights for changes and improve their scores.

Measure the whole experience.

Many times, service providers might suspect a problem in one area of service and solely want to focus on that one area, not wanting to waste time measuring other activities not considered problems. Be on guard against this approach because it does not represent the customer's perspective. Take, for example, an online retailer that might solely focus on the internet experience in its metrics. If the company does not measure other factors, such as time for product delivery, condition of delivered merchandise, and more, it will not be capturing the entire customer experience.

Measure performance against standards.

Whenever possible, measure performance against predefined, specific standards. For example, in many service dimensions, there is time involved. Check-out line speed, time to process an order, and more. One CEM approach might involve asking customers if they were satisfied with the amount of time it took to complete their orders, on a one-to-five point scale. A better approach for your CEM program is to identify the turnaround time most people feel is reasonable and measure to that goal. It's considerably easier to rally your troops to achieve a 20-minute turnaround time than to score five on a scale. Then, 20-minute performance becomes part of your culture, and everyone is focused on this service deliverable.

Build analytical linkages to your data.

To lock in validity to your CEM results, build in linkages to business metrics, like financial data, transaction volume, employee engagement, and more. Building these linkages is a great way to pull in support from departments that otherwise might not be interested in your data. For example, take a hotel chain that has different types of properties, such as resorts, inner-city businesses, and transient consumer facilities. Providing the ability to analyze CEM data by each type of property is a potent tool to the people designing and running each property. Developing this level of analytics can be time consuming, but the payoff is powerful.

Use spectacular visual dashboards.

Help your audiences to access information, not just data, at a moment's notice. Be sure to tap visualization tools that make it easy for people to analyze data in real time. You want to have data presentation that can be tailored for multiple audiences, from store-level employees to senior executives. Be sure to think not in scores, but rather in infographics that are quick and intuitive to consume and move people to drive behavior change.

A successful CEM program influences your service providers to change behaviors to address always-evolving customer requirements and desires. It provides unprecedented access to customer data to glean real-time insights that support nimble decision-making to generate customer experience improvements and increased sales.

Michelle Uehlinger is vice president of customer experience measurement (CEM) at Toluna. She manages all CEM department operations at Toluna and has more than 10 years of experience in marketing research, data management, and account management.