Customer Performance Indicators: New Evidence in Customer-Centric Metrics


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In the new arena where customers are the most valuable players in the business game, most companies desire to be customer centric. Yet many rely solely on business-oriented KPIs focused on revenue, growth margins, and operational efficiencies to confirm wins. These stats, while common and useful, largely measure how the customer is performing for the company, not how the company is performing for the customer.

Furthermore, well-intended, existing customer-specific metrics like NPS and CSAT focus on how satisfied the customer is with the current brand experience and how likely they would be to recommend the brand which, yet again, is a well-disguised play to see if there is more value to be squeezed from customers, missing out on the true vision of what customer centricity is meant to achieve.

Customer Performance Indicators (CPIs) are emerging and underutilized metrics that focus entirely on how brands help customers achieve the goals that matter most to them. When used correctly, these metrics harness the power to grow the company’s bottom line significantly while providing meaningful ways to deliver value to customers.

Decoding Customer Performance Indicators

Unlike KPIs, CPIs are all about customers. They are quantifiable measures of how well any business, regardless of industry, measures up against the goals most important to the customer. Unlike KPIs, CPIs are not business-centric, they are human-centric, and allow customers to function, thrive, and succeed as individuals. CPIs incorporate a multitude of measures but can largely be broken out into three brackets:

  • Measures that benefit customers functionally: such as saving time, saving money, and diversifying options.
  • Measures associated with emotional benefits: such as feeling good, finding motivation, and reducing risk/anxiety.
  • Measures with respect to customers’ social goals: such as helping others, connecting with others, and finding a sense of belonging.

Why are CPIs valuable? The more a company’s attention is focused on outcomes that are important to customers, the more likely the company will be to perform on outcomes important to the business. In fact, recent research in this area reveals a positive relationship between CPIs and revenue growth.

Understanding CPIs For Your Brand.

While the concept of CPIs is universal, brands can’t simply adopt the top CPIs for other brands or copy and paste what has worked well for other companies. Different industries—and different brands within each industry—will experience varying balances of CPI relevance. Think of a banking service, where functionality and precision are important, compared to a meditation app, where customers’ emotional goals may be central.

It’s important to take the time to unpack which CPIs matter most to each brand’s specific customers and build from there—the image to the left dives deeper into a list of universal CPIs that can serve as a foundation in your journey to customer connectedness.

Delivering on CPIs Within Your Organization

Once brands have taken the time to understand which CPIs—or combination of CPIs—stand to drive the most growth, it’s time to deliver. The journey toward operationalizing customer centricity through the lens of relevant CPIs begins at listening and understanding and ends with best-in-class execution. Here is just one real-world example of a brand through the lens of these new metrics:

Food for Thought – Eat Fresh vs. Spend Less

Like many large restaurant chains, it’s no secret Subway has experienced a few snafus in their tenure – between their ‘what’s in the bread’ issue, their menu revamp and the most recent tuna gate.

With a tagline of “Eat Fresh,” the company has placed high focus and marketing spend on business KPIs that maximize price and value vs. ingredient quality and sourcing, which tend to be more influential customer motivators for purchasing a sandwich. For example, the company champions the “5 Dollar Footlong” slogan creating an unprofitable and unpopular situation for franchise owners.

By asking customers the right questions and instituting franchise-wide success metrics focused on customer motivators—be it functional, emotional, or social—Subway may still have the power to turn the tide to make positive transformation.

The Takeaway

When brands do right by customers, customers will do right by them. CPIs have the power to level the playing field between customers and corporations. Organizations that adopt a new model of value exchange will outperform competition, and most importantly outperform themselves. In an era in which customers are demanding more from brands than ever before, organizations need to listen up and evolve. Customer centricity can no longer be a stated strategy, but needs to instead become a transformed way of doing business – from the C-suite to frontline, it is imperative to securing the future of your brand.

Crystle Uyeda
Bringing a unique blend of consumer understanding and client service experience, Crystle offers a valuable perspective to organizations that guides growth strategies. Most recently, Crystle has been part of a team at Gongos to develop a patent-pending Value Exchange (Vex) Model that works in combination with customer KPIs to identify the strongest paths to customer-centered growth. Check out more here:


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