The stakes for customer service have never been higher. Even before the pandemic, customer expectations were rising aggressively year-over-year. Now, more than 80% of consumers in the US expect brands’ customer service agents to be more empathetic or more responsive (or both) than they were prior to the pandemic.
To meet these high expectations, enterprises have become increasingly reliant on metrics to tell them how they’re performing. In the software industry, we’re fond of discussing legacy software — decades old technology that seems to stick around forever. However, the real enemy of the modern enterprise is legacy metrics. Legacy metrics orient people, business processes, and technology around the wrong goals. They also serve to silo the customer experience into a series of touchpoints instead of understanding their experience as part of a larger customer journey.
The new metrics of customer service need to encapsulate the customer’s entire experience of a business. Only by developing metrics that reflect a holistic brand journey can the enterprise meet and exceed the expectations of their customers today.
Stepping over dollars to pick up dimes
Most legacy metrics used in the enterprise don’t measure the nuance of customer expectation — nor do they set up your team for successful delivery of great experience. In fact, as HBR reports, standalone metrics often unravel long-term strategic goals because they reward actions that jeopardize other components of the overall customer journey. McKinsey found similar results when they dug into this issue. While individual touchpoints or metrics may give the false sense of security that a business is doing well, metrics that exist in a vacuum are destined to leave the customer cold. Worse, some metrics are plainly designed to drive down costs rather than to improve experiences.
Average time-to-resolution, customer effort score, and customer satisfaction are some of the leading legacy metrics guiding customer service strategies today. But all three of these metrics only speak to the experience of one single touchpoint. As a result, if they are used in isolation, they focus your technology resources on the wrong problems.
For example, while tracking average time-to-resolution is meant to speak to a customer’s urgency for a solution, too often this metric incentivizes people to rush the customer away. Yes, customers want their time respected — but more than that, they want to feel like they’re having a human-to-human, empathetic interaction.
Similarly, while customer effort and customer satisfaction scores may seem more high-level, and therefore better suited to understanding an overarching journey, they are still only designed to measure the quality of a single interaction. These metrics don’t speak to the complexity of a customer’s relationship to your business, which encompasses not just servicing, but also onboarding and continual renewals or updates to their status as customers.
At the end of the day, customer experience is defined by a lifetime of engagements with a customer — not any one random encounter on a Tuesday. There’s enormous, untapped revenue potential sitting on the table because short-sighted cost cutting metrics drive enterprises away from value creation at every critical juncture.
Measure the stuff that goes up and to the right
If we’re going to meet customers’ rising expectations, we need to define new metrics for customer success. Rather than prioritizing results around specific touchpoints, your enterprise’s north star needs to be around creating measurements that quantify the customer journey. While the specific metric may look different from business to business, there are a few overarching metrics that we’ve found can serve as a crystal ball into your customer’s experience.
The first is measuring your time-to-revenue-achievement. Though this may sound tangential to the customer experience, how quickly you close a contract is the best quantified understanding of the first impression your business is making. In the age of instantaneous customer service, customers want to be brought into your business quickly and begin reaping the rewards of your product or service immediately.
It’s also important to define a metric around the immediate post-sale experience. After purchase, how well does your team support the first month of service? Do they follow up proactively to see how the customer is enjoying your business? If your customer approaches your business with an immediate issue, how is it handled? What is the successful setup rate? What is the time to successful setup? The post-sale experience sets the tone for the customer lifecycle and sets the stage for upselling and cross-selling.
Finally, cross-channel information accessibility is key across both touchpoints and larger journeys. A recent report from CMSWire found that “37% of digital customer experience executives said data silos and/or fragmented customer data are hurting their digital customer experience initiatives.” Whether it’s pre-sale or five years into a relationship, can your team access information on whatever previous interactions this customer may have had with your brand? If not, why? Tracking the accessibility of information in your organization can help you identify knowledge bottlenecks, as well as see what kind of information is most helpful to your team in achieving these other upside metrics.
End the tyranny of legacy metrics
Love them or hate them, legacy metrics make one thing abundantly clear — what’s measured improves. This is especially true as enterprises begin to more meaningfully incorporate automation into their customer experience stacks. Technology only does what you tell it to do, so if you position it to focus on the wrong metrics, endpoints and outcomes, then it’s going to continually march you away from attractive revenue.
Confoundingly, we spend a lot of time prognosticating about unchecked, rogue AI, but too many businesses pay no mind to the thousands of people they have working towards the wrong metrics. People and AI are indeed the most valuable assets in the modern enterprise, but they can only create value if you point them in the right direction.