How do companies actually measure “Customer Experience”?

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For decades, companies have focused solely on operational data to drive decision making. Metrics like unit cost, sales, attrition rate, turnover, sales velocity etc. provide valuable insights into what has happened, so that companies can decide what they should do going forward. But as companies have shifted their attention to the overall customer experience, the challenge now is how to measure this far less tangible metric. After all, how do you measure an experience?

This is where Experience Management comes in – the discipline of monitoring every experience that an individual has with a company in order to discover opportunities for improvement. Because experience management concerns itself with outcomes that are much less tangible, companies must change how they measure success, shifting away from operationally-focused CRMs (which measure the more traditional operational data) to more experience-focused Enterprise Service Management platforms like Cherwell.

Our approach to Enterprise Service Management derives from the proven concepts and techniques of ITSM, a well-established area of IT which refers to all the activities involved in designing, creating, delivering, supporting and managing the lifecycle of IT services within an organisation. ITSM manages every aspect of technology used by the organisation, from the devices themselves to the software installed on them to the cloud services they connect to. Tasks can involve anything from commissioning a new laptop to resetting a password. However, since ITSM is such a mature discipline (with years upon years of iterative development resulting in the most comprehensive approach to service management yet as codified in globally recognised ITIL4 standard), it also provides an excellent foundation on which to build an Enterprise Service Management approach for other areas of the business too, such as customer experience, but also other enterprise services such as HR, facilities management, information security etc.).

XLA: How to measure customer experience
So, if experience management based on the ITSM method is the process, what are the metrics for measuring customer experience?

The key to measuring experience is with an XLA, or Experience Level Agreement. XLAs are the equivalent of an SLA (Service Level Agreement) for experience management. Whereas SLAs deal with the tangible, operational data we are already used to (e.g. number of sales, complaints, inbound calls etc.) XLAs focus on the actual outcome of that data. In other words, where SLAs focus on the what, XLAs deal with the why.

But what should go in an XLA? What does an XLA look like? Unfortunately, this is not so easy to answer. Since the experiences your company offers will be unique to your business, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to XLAs. But as a good starting point, HappySignals, an XLA consultancy, believe an XLA should focus on two areas:
1. The happiness of end-user satisfaction after each incidental request. This focuses on the perception of experience from a given service (e.g. how did the outcome of this service make you feel?”)
2. How much time was lost due to a certain issue or request. This measures how efficient a service has been (e.g. in minutes/hours/days, how long did it take to resolve the issue/deliver the product etc.?

Ultimately, an XLA based approach can improve outcomes precisely because it measures outcomes. If your company does not adopt an XLA-based approach, you are still measuring traditional operational metrics and cannot truly say you have shifted to being a customer experience champion. Now it’s your turn – using the two categories listed above, can you think of the questions you would want to ask your customers to measure their satisfaction?

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