The paranoia of measuring everything and nothing


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Following on from a conversation I had with a friend from a major telco recently, I started thinking about how we use metrics.

We often measure specific instances of customer behaviour without trying to relate it to an end-to-end journey. Perhaps this is a reflection of how businesses have traditionally operated – in silos?

I work in the ecommerce team therefore I measure sales, I work in the customer services team therefore I measure first contact resolution, I work in the marketing team therefore I measure email campaign open rates,  I work in the business operations team therefore I measure everything…


But from a customer’s perspective the end-to-end journey might look like this: I want to buy a smartphone.

Monday: research it online via a company’s web site and whilst on there do an online chat about some products and tariffs, do a search on Twitter to see what people are saying about different smartphones

Tuesday: have a look at some handsets in store, talk to the sales agent about some choices, speak to my friends about what they’ve got

Wednesday: I’m not in any desperate hurry to get it, and I’ve heard that going via Twitter gets me a better price. I tweet to a specific telco about the phone I want and the tariff I am interested in. I get put on a callback list.

Thursday: Finally speak to someone from the telco about it. Try not to sound desperate, and slightly regret not going straight into the store. Desperation goes as I get a really good deal for going via Twitter. And the person I speak to over the phone is fantastic.

Friday: Desperation rises once again, as I realise it’s coming into the weekend and I won’t get the phone delivered until the following week. Go onto YouTube to see if there’s anything about the phone to try to pass the time. Find some unboxing videos. Feel slightly sad and geekish that I have resorted to an unboxing video. But think that wouldn’t it be great if a company sent me a ‘while you’re waiting’ email with unboxing videos in and other info related to my new handset.

Monday: Phone finally arrives…

Wednesday: Something is wrong with the phone and ring customer service after eventually finding the number online. Self service has much to answer for I think to myself! Go into a store to return the phone…


How does a company measure that journey? Where does the journey start and end? Does it try to measure that? Can it even measure it? If it does, what does it do with that information?


As customers, we seek information, purchase products, communicate with friends in an increasingly disjointed and fragmented cross-channel environment (online, offline, mobile). We instinctively switch between different platforms that are familiar to us, and sometimes experiment and subsequently assimilate those platforms that are less familiar to us.

As companies, we constantly try to understand, pre-empt, predict customer behaviour through metrics. We constantly play ‘customer catch-up’.

Do companies need to find new, different or innovative ways to look at measurement that not only brings departments together, but also works on different levels. How do I not only measure how many products were returned in a particular week, but the sentiment of the customers when they returned them, how many of those customers might be influencers or serial complainers, was there any impact on the NPS score, how did this relate to calls, emails, Tweets into the contact centre…

Do we need to bring marketing, insight, customer service, sales together? Customers touch on every part of an organisation.


Are we driven by the paranoia of being supposedly able to measure everything? I don’t need to measure everything, and yet I need to capture everything, just in case. Just in case of what? Are we trying to overcomplicate what we measure? Do we know what it is we want to measure? Do we know what we want to do with the information once we’ve got it?

We measure first time resolution? Why? A customer isn’t interested in first time resolution. They’re interested in getting their problem fixed. Fantastic if it does get fixed first time, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay too, as long as you keep me informed. What effective measurements have you got in place to show whether this is happening or not?

For me it’s about getting the basics right for the customer, and measuring that. For a business it’s about something else entirely – ROI perhaps. Seems like we’re at an impasse from the outset. How do you measure the cost of that?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Guy Stephens
Guy is a social customer care trainer/consultant who has been in the social customer care space since 2008. He is also the Co-founder of Snak Academy, which provides online social customer care microlearning for individuals and SMEs.


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