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If you’re like most support professionals, you’ve probably wondered about the best way to measure and manage the end to end Customer Experience. Is there one single metric that tells the whole story? Is that metric Net Promoter Score (NPS)? The short answer is no. Now, for the long answer…. Let me begin by taking you back a few months to a truly compelling CX/CS session at the ICMI Conference and Expo. 

Justin Robbins (@justinmrobbins), Matt Dixon (@matthewxdixon) and Nate Brown (@CustomerIsFirst) showed up to session 303 dressed to impress for a mock trial, Judge Judy style. Side note, this was one of the most entertaining and enlightening conference sessions I’ve ever attended, so if you have the opportunity to listen to the recording, I’d suggest you do so. The room was divided in half – with those that arrived believing NPS was the most important CX/CS metric seated to the left, and those that arrived believing other metrics were more important seated to the right. At any time during the trial, attendees were free to switch sides based on the evidence presented. 

Though movement throughout the session suggested the evidence presented did sway some initial feelings, it was clear at the end of the trial that the room was still very much divided, with many siding against NPS as the be all end all CX metric. What those on the left side of the room failed to recognize is that no one metric tells the whole customer experience story. So, in this article, I will propose an alternate approach that will enable you to effectively measure the end to end customer experience.

A Bit of Background on NPS

More than 15 years ago, Fred Reichheld, a partner at Bain & Company, introduced NPS in an effort to first, understand what customers were feeling, and second, to establish accountability for the customer experience. In 2011, Fred Reichheld and Rob Markey published The Ultimate Question 2.0 which explains how practitioners transformed NPS into a comprehensive management framework. Today, thousands of companies around the world rely on NPS to improve the health of the business. 

In an era where customer experience is king, it’s no surprise that NPS is growing in popularity. Unfortunately, this also means that organizations are still putting too much emphasis on a single piece of the puzzle. Perhaps worse, organizations tend to overlook three critical considerations that need to be addressed before NPS can lead to actionable insights. 

  • NPS needs to be a mindset, not just a metric. Most organizations wrongly assume the S in NPS stands for ‘score’ when it actually stands for ‘system’. To effectively leverage NPS, organizations need to commit to more than just reporting. The NPS framework, illustrated below, relies on sustained leadership commitment, feedback, learning and improvement, and a robust operational and analytical infrastructure. 
Source: Bain and Company
  • NPS is not one size fits all. The quintessential NPS question “How likely is it you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?” makes no distinction as to the type of customer you’re supporting (i.e. B2B or B2C) or the type of support organization you’re managing (consumer support or internal employee technical support). 
    • For example, in a B2B environment, the customer is the business. When working with a business, service and support often interacts with multiple points of contact who have no choice in what product or service they use. Measuring NPS based on one interaction with someone that is forced to use your product or service is not the best way to gain actionable insight about the end to end customer experience. 
    • Likewise, NPS is not as intuitive in an internal employee support environment as it is in a consumer environment which means the scores you receive in an internal employee support environment are not necessarily as statistically significant as they would be in a consumer support environment. Take, for example, an employee that contacted technical support to reset their password for a proprietary business application. This employee receives a survey shortly after the interaction that asks how likely it would be that they would recommend the service they received to a friend or colleague. Again, this person has no choice in the matter, so it’s not entirely clear why this employee would recommend the service to a friend or colleague. 
    • Mr. Reichheld recognized this flaw when NPS was originally introduced in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article “One Number You Need to Grow” and proposed alternative questions such as “Does product XYZ set the standard of excellence?” or “Does Company XYZ deserve your loyalty?” Either of which would be much more relevant than asking whether the customer would refer the product/service to a friend or colleague in the two example scenarios. 

  • Educate everyone – from leadership to the front line. NPS scores are often misinterpreted due to the fact that anything higher than zero is thought to be good and anything over 50% is excellent. Not very intuitive without context, wouldn’t you agree? Many stakeholders wrongly assume that NPS should be interpreted like CSAT, which is by far the most common measure of quality and, so common that most have an intuitive feel for it. We know, for example, that an organization with a CSAT rating of 65% probably has quality issues, while an organization with a CSAT score of 95% probably does not. Someone who is unfamiliar with the NPS scoring system may think that a score of 50% is very low and take unnecessary action accordingly. So, at the very least, make sure that all communication containing NPS data also includes clear instructions on how to accurately interpret that data.    

NPS, when implemented correctly, can absolutely provide actionable insights into the overall customer experience. However, as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t tell the whole CX story. Since that’s what many support professionals are struggling with today, let’s move on and discuss the alternate approach I mentioned early on. 

The Alternate Approach

If you’re a client of MetricNet, you’ve been on one of our webcasts or attended one of Jeff Rumburg’s sessions, you’ve probably heard of the balanced scorecard. We’ve applied the basic concept to develop a CX Scorecard. 

The CX Scorecard takes the most important CX metrics – including NPS, CES and CSAT – and combines them into a single, overall measure of performance. When tracked over time, the CX Scorecard tells you whether your customer experience is improving…staying flat…or getting worse!

To determine the most important CX metrics and effectively measure the end to end customer experience, we needed to look beyond promoters and detractors – into the underlying drivers of customer loyalty. Each of which is outlined below and corresponds to a metric in the scorecard. 

Drivers of Customer Loyalty

  • Quality of the Interaction – The quality of each interaction is the foundation of customer perception. High quality interactions take into account agent knowledge and expertise, efficiency (i.e., Handle Time), and agent courtesy and professionalism – all prerequisites to a world-class customer experience. Unless the quality of service and support is consistently high, it is difficult to achieve a consistently high level of customer loyalty. Take Southwest Airlines as an example. According to a recent report by NICE Satmetrix, two of the top drivers behind Southwest’s 1st place NPS ranking are attitude & friendliness of the cabin staff and efficiency & attention of the cabin staff. This is illustrated below.

  • Customer Effort – The Customer Effort Score (CES) is a customer experience metric introduced in 2008 by Matt Dixon, then a senior leader at the prestigious Corporate Executive Board (CEB) consulting firm. CEB’s research showed that reducing customer friction is a better driver of customer loyalty than an exceptional experience at a single touchpoint – in fact, CES was able to predict loyalty almost twice as often as CSAT. Prior to CES, organizations were obsessed with creating exceptional (and expensive) individual experiences that produced no demonstrable ROI. Customer Effort Score takes into consideration the consistency and clarity of information, the consistency of service across channels, whether or not the customer needed to repeat information, how long the customer waited on hold, whether the issue was solved on first contact, and the intuitiveness of the support structure (i.e. IVR menu or self-service portal). Using the Southwest Airlines example again, one of the top relationship drivers was found to be ease of doing business. This is illustrated below.
Source: NICE Satmetrix


  • Issue Resolution – A high First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR) is almost always associated with high NPS scores. FCR is a measure of how effectively your support organization conducts its business and is a function of many factors, including the complexity and types of transactions handled, the experience of your agents, the quality of agent training, and tools such as knowledge management and remote control. Take for example the illustration below published in a NICE Satmetrix case study. Issue resolution is clearly an issue for the online travel agency featured here. 
Source: NICE Satmetrix
  • Overall Satisfaction – Customer loyalty and satisfaction are two distinct but related metrics. For that reason, one would expect there to be a correlation between NPS and customer satisfaction. There is, in fact, a correlation between these two metrics, but it is not as strong as one might expect. MetricNet’s benchmarking data for customer satisfaction and net promoter score is shown below for 74 IT support organizations that track both metrics. 
Source: MetricNet

All of the drivers listed above contribute to the health of your customer experience.

Lastly, at ICMI Expo, Nate Brown said “Turning a detractor into a promoter is extremely powerful.” I wholeheartedly agree and, for that reason, we recommend including NPS, both a quality and a loyalty metric, as the final KPI in the CX Scorecard. Remember, when it comes to NPS, one size does not fit all! That means the NPS question on your survey and the metric weighting should be unique to your support environment. 

Conclusion

It is absolutely critical to communicate the overall performance of your end to end customer experience, and the CX scorecard does that for you. Think of the CX scorecard as your letter grade for the month! In this way, you can track overall performance, and, in any given month, may see CSAT go up or NPS go down or CES increase, but these individual measures take on a secondary level of importance because the CX score provides a more complete and accurate picture of the end to end customer experience. 

Download the CX scorecard template here. 

For more background on NPS, please read this Metric of the Month article.

Finally, I hope to see you at ICMI Connections in October!

Angela Irizarry

Angela Irizarry joined MetricNet in early 2013. In her current role as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, she assists MetricNet’s CEO in managing the Company’s day-to-day operating activities, short-term and long-range strategic planning and new client acquisition. Additionally, she is responsible for planning, organizing, and implementing the Company’s sales and marketing efforts as well as managing MetricNet’s intellectual property, online best practices library, web projects and e-commerce shop. Angela is a versatile and results-oriented professional with nearly 15 years of business development and marketing experience across a multitude of industries globally. Prior to joining MetricNet she held various leadership positions in the Property Management and Retail industries where she was known for her strong track record of sales growth, marketing foresight and creative problem solving.

One Comment

  • Leona Quiroz says:

    Great Article! Customer experience is everything related to a company or business that affects a customer’s perception and feelings about it and it includes customer-facing interactions throughout the customer journey. Customer experience encompasses every aspect of a company’s offering the quality of customer care, advertising, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, and reliability.

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