Measure What Matters to Customers

The New CSM Guidebook: Part 5: The Vital Importance of Metrics

August 9, 2012

Measuring things is easy. Figuring out what to measure is hard! In our Customer Scenario® Mapping methodology, we focus a lot of attention on capturing the right metrics at multiple levels. Here are guidelines for defining metrics that matter to customers and how you should measure your organization's performance and bottom-line opportunities based on these measurements.


In Customer Scenario® Mapping, we put a lot of emphasis on capturing metrics at multiple levels. Here we provide guidelines on how to approach what is often the most difficult aspect of mapping, providing quantifiable and realistic metrics to what customers want from your organization, how you can measure how you’re doing at meeting those metrics, and how your company can improve the bottom line by making your customers successful.


Why the Emphasis on Metrics?

In her article on “How to Monitor Your Return on Customer Experience,” Patty Seybold points out, “There’s often a disconnect between customer experience improvements and operational execution. Customer experience improvements are typically monitored using qualitative customer surveys (often annually). Operational execution is monitored in near real time. Best practice in customer experience provides a proactive line of sight between customer experience improvements and operational execution by monitoring the operational metrics that impact customer experience the most.”

Patty points out, “The business return on customer experience is a win/win. It’s a win for your customers because you’re monitoring and improving the things that matter most to them. It’s a win for your organization because by focusing proactively on the things that really matter to customers, you reduce your costs to serve customers. You also increase the revenues you receive from satisfied customers. Your customers become loyal advocates, increasing the share of their wallets they give you and recruiting their colleagues to become your customers.”

Measuring things is easy. Figuring out what to measure is hard! In Customer Scenario® Mapping (CSM), our proven methodology that is the linchpin of our Customer Co-Design consulting practice, we put a lot of emphasis on identifying the right metrics—the ones that matter to your customers. (Although this article talks about metrics in the context of customer co-design and our methodology, the concepts presented are universal to any customer-centric organization.) Rather than measuring to internal goals and processes, which is too often the practice, you should always know how well you are doing in meeting customers’ moments of truth—the showstoppers that can sour the relationship and derail your customers from success—and helping them achieve their goals in they way they want to.

We strongly believe that quantifying specific metrics for your customers (and your partners) provides clear guidelines for how you should be measuring your business.

Specifying Quantifiable Metrics

In CSM, the most important metrics to elicit from the team are those that measure the customers’ moments of truth.1 The question to ask is, “What measurement would turn this showstopper around and make it a success?” We put a great deal of emphasis on capturing realistic, quantifiable metrics. That means that, during a mapping session, the facilitator’s job is to get the customers on the team to come up with actual numbers that can be measured: for example, 3 times or more, 95% of the time, fewer than 5 options.

This is really tough to do. Customers often find it difficult to specify a specific number or measurement. They often respond by saying, “Well, just turn it around to a positive.” (Note that Moments of Truth are typically expressed as negative statements.) For example, if the Moment of Truth states, “It’s too hard to find the items I want,” customers say the metric should be “It is easy to find what I want.” But that isn’t a metric, and a company cannot measure if it is being successful in achieving what the customer wants. Here are some examples of realistic and useful customer metrics for this Moment of Truth:

  • I find the correct item within 3 clicks
  • I find the correct item within 1 minute
  • An online customer service rep proactively offers me assistance if I haven’t found what I want within 3 clicks or 1 minute (a more specific metric that also suggests a valuable remedy)

Defining Customer Metrics

As a general rule, you can usually find valuable customer metrics based on time (how long it takes), money (how much it costs), distance (how far away), frequency (how often), compatibility (works with what I already have), fit (size issues), or effort (how many phone calls, how many people involved, how many mouse clicks to desired result, etc.). Here are some examples of valid success metrics:

  • Time: I can get a live person on the phone within 30 seconds
  • Money: The total price is within 5% of my budget
  • Distance: I can find a retail location within 3 miles of my home
  • Frequency: The product needs to be serviced fewer than 2 times a year
  • Compatibility: The product works with the 3 peripherals &/or the 4 software applications I already have and use
  • Fit: The product fits (into the space required or my body) with 2 inches to spare
  • Effort: All my questions are answered in 1 phone call

There are, of course, other things that can be measured, such as “What level of productivity improvement can I achieve?” But, in general, asking customers to think about Time, Money, Distance, Frequency, Compatibility, Fit, and Effort usually lead to useful metrics.

Tip for CSM Facilitators. Feel free to suggest things to measure and even what the measurement should be (1 hour, under $100, twice a week, etc.) if the customers aren’t forthcoming. Once you make a suggestion, customers have a much easier time validating or correcting your proposed metric as well as coming up with related metrics of their own.

But be sure to let the customers try first. Only offer suggested numbers if customers can’t come up with them on their own. Sometimes you might want to offer unrealistic metrics, such as, for a Moment of Truth of “product doesn’t need to be serviced too often,” ask if that means that it can’t ever break for you to be satisfied? Customers usually come back with a more realistic measurement, saying, “Well that would be great, but it would be okay if I had to have it serviced, say, once a year.”

Measuring What Seems to Be Unmeasurable

Sometimes, metrics might be even more difficult to define, especially when the Moment of Truth is more of an intangible goal. For example, in a car buying scenario that we have mapped, a key moment of truth for the customer is that ...(more)


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1) For more information on how we identify and define customers’ moments of truth or showstoppers, please read: “Turn Customer Co-Design Insights into Action,” “Quick Way to Gather Customer Requirements,” and “Streamline Customers' Critical Scenarios.”

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