Are You Measuring What Matters to Customers?

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In the northern hemisphere, early September is a natural time to take stock and to set priorities. As our kids go back to school, we adults find ourselves in the same mindset: excited about learning new things, accomplishing something important, and having fun “playing” with our colleagues and customers. So, it’s a natural time to set some goals and priorities. Why not start by taking stock of how to improve your customers’ end-to-end experience of using your products and services, in doing business with you, and in doing their jobs.

I was reminded of how important this is as I listened to a long-time client, the CEO of a high tech company, recount how valuable he found an off-site strategy meeting to be. He used the Blue Ocean Strategy method to lead his team through a strategic planning session. “The most valuable part for us,” he reported, “was thinking about what’s going on in our customers’ lives before they learn about our products and after they’ve been using them for a while. When we really drilled into those customers’ (users, decision-makers, influencers, maintainers) contexts, we realized how much more we could be doing to make their lives easier.” As a result, his team created a much more targeted partner “shelf space” strategy, changed their account reps’ MBOs to focus more on after sales relationship building, and refocused their social media focus and their documentation to target customers’ “moments of truth.”

There are many methods you can use to step back and assess how well you’re doing in identifying, quantifying, and improving your organization’s performance in delivering a great customer experience with your brand and your products. We’ve spent the last two decades refining our own tools. Whether you practice customer co-design or not, whether you do any customer experience mapping or not, we strongly recommend that you embrace customers’ success metrics.

Customers’ success metrics are the (usually implicit) criteria that make or break your customers’ ability to do what they care about. Over the last 20+ years in working with clients in a variety of industries, in both B2C and B2B, we’ve learned a lot about how to:

  • Identify what matters most to customers (their moments of truth)
  • Tease out customers’ implicit success criteria for each moment of truth
  • Figure out what to monitor proactively in order to ensure that customers sail through each moment of truth successfully
  • Uncover and articulate measurable win/win business ROI for focusing on these activities and metrics.

One point I continue to feel very strongly about is that this approach yields proactive, operational metrics. Measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty is a fine discipline. But it doesn’t help you predict customer behaviors, nor prevent customer experience disasters. The companies that use customers’ success metrics as their operational metrics are the ones that consistently beat their competitors in customer loyalty, walletshare, and marketshare.

“Back to School” Reading List on Customers’ Metrics

So here’s a list of recommended articles for you to skim in order to wrap your mind around this way of thinking about improving the end-to-end customer experience you offer:

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