I constantly hear from CX consultants that they are “metrics agnostic” or that the choice of CX metrics doesn’t really matter.
If you hear that from one of your consultants, tell them that you are “consultant agnostic” and ask if the choice of consultants really matters.
Me, I am a “metrics empiricist.” That is, I think the choice of metrics does matter, and the best metric is that which is empirically validated to best explain or predict the outcomes or customer behaviors that align with the organization’s objectives.
The End Game
The end game or overarching objective of a CX initiative should be about change. More specifically, changing the experience a firm delivers (or at least the perception of the experience) to motivate desired customer behaviors – continue to be a customer, shop more frequently and so on. The goal is not simply to improve “the score.”
In that limited sense, the metrics agnostics are right in focusing on the doing as more critical than the measuring. Change comes from taking action, both tactically, as when a local manager “closes the loop” after a customer expresses disappointment, and strategically, as when leadership has the service process redesigned to better meet customer needs. In the ideal world, a CX initiative will infuse CX thinking into the bloodstream of a company, permeating the firm, making CX an organic component of how the organization goes about its business day-to-day and plans for tomorrow. The score doesn’t do that.
Let’s say you want to travel north. Would you follow the advice of a self-described guru who is “directionally agnostic”? After all, if you head south, eventually you might get north as you circumnavigate the globe. A compass might help point you in the (generally) right direction – but the compass won’t get you there by itself.
A CX metric is akin to an organization’s North Star (strained pun intended), providing direction by which to navigate. The question then becomes quite simple: do you want a North Star or CX metric that is more accurate in predicting your destination or business outcomes/customer behaviors or one that is less accurate? Do you prefer to run key drivers on and analyze data that better aligns with the firm’s objectives or that misses the mark? Unless you are “accuracy agnostic,” the answer is obvious.
Design for Success
Every journey starts with a single step. That all-critical first step in developing a CX program is determining the business objectives, be it for the firm overall or a specific activity or transaction type. What do you want to accomplish? Given that your objective is to boost renewals/return visits to the website/increase share of customer spend/make some process easier for customers or whatever target for which you are aiming, the question becomes what is the best metric that will explain or predict your success? You aren’t “objective agnostic;” so why would you be metric agnostic in picking the items to help aim for and monitor progress against objectives?
While this perhaps may be seemingly obvious, all-to-often organizations fail to articulate their objectives or, worse yet, they say their objective is to conduct a survey to collect data. Under those circumstances I return to the wisdom of my friend The Cheshire Cat: if you don’t know where you are going, any path will take you there. In other instances, the company has an objective, but uses a metric that has little to do with what they are trying to accomplish.
There are always intervening factors that affect performance and circumstances that might make it difficult to gauge the success of any initiative. While you are trying to assess the impact of a specific CX initiative or program, the world isn’t standing still: technology is evolving, competitors are on the move, customer expectations are rising, economic and labor factors are in flux. The complicating factors notwithstanding, if you have picked your CX metrics as gauges of performance against the underlying objectives, changes in scores should be an indicator of movement against those objectives.
Linking Metrics to Outcomes
Quantifying the economic value of CX and its impact on the business and customer behaviors is the holy grail. This requires linking CX metrics to business and operational measures. Unless one is “outcomes agnostic,” what could be the possible rationale for not paying attention to the CX KPIs that, in turn, are used to make the business case for CX?
In fact, it is the linkage to outcomes that is central to validating CX metrics. That is, this linkage is the key to determining if the chosen CX metrics are explaining or predicting the stated objectives and outcomes. This is the empirical test for determining the best CX metric: which has the most explanatory or predictive power relative to the targeted business outcomes and customer behaviors?
So unless you are “results agnostic” and don’t care about the success of your CX efforts, the next time someone tells you they are CX metrics agnostic, shrug your shoulders and move on.