Author: Frank Buckler, Ph.D.
Published on: June 11, 2021 * 9 min read
It was back in 2017 when David wrote me this email. He was heading insights for SONOS, and the company was bravely acting on their CX Insights. The problem: no improvement after all.
Measuring customer experience has never been more crucial than it is today. Nevertheless, most CX teams continue to face intimidating CX challenges. Meaning that not all CX professionals know how to advance in customer experience measurement and how they can leverage a customer-journey-based approach in order to optimize the CX measurement program.
Before we start with the nits and grits of measuring CX, it is important to understand how vital it is for the businesses to improve the customer experience. Firstly, having an exceptional CX management can instruct a lot of businesses to understand who their customers are and how to capture their sincere feedback in real time.
In this post, I will provide you with guidance on how you can build up and/or improve the CX measurement to be able to shape CX measurement for impact.
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The first lesson is what kind of customer experience service do we see? What kind of surveys are possible and meaningful first thing is other the general customer experience survey that you reach out to your audience, to your customers, without a certain trigger, without a certain touch point. You reach out because you want to have a status report.
What is a status? Across all customers of the loyalty, no matter whether or not there have been touch points or not, that’s a general CX survey. And of course it’s very different what you get , compared to touch point customer survey. Because the touch point CX survey is after a certain touch point, after a phone conversation, after you’ve met a customer on the a website or a in a shop or whatever. Whenever the touch point was right after or shortly after you reach out and interview them with specifically towards the experience of this touchpoint. The third is the CX journey survey, which is actually the same as a touchpoint CX survey, basically differentiates because you want to connect those different touch points to map out a holistic journey.
But this journey actually is different for every single customer. So basically you do in the CX journey customer survey, you make sure that you are measuring where, what was the touch point before the actual touch point… So with this information, you can build a chain for every single customer and also, analyze how those touch points in its sequence influencing each other. The fourth CX survey typically is the competitive survey. So you not only reach out to customers, but also to your non-customers to the customers of your competitors. So these companies do that for benchmarking purpose but also you want to learn, why are they still with this supplier or with this company?
What are they doing better than us? What can we learn? Where are the weaknesses of the competitor? So all this, you can learn with those competitive CX surveys. So these are different types and typically, companies do all of them.
The next question is what do we ask? What are we measuring? The core thing you want to measure is the measurement of the customer experience and the most used measurement of the customer experience is the resulting loyalty and the resulting loyalty is very well measured by the question whether or not the customer is likely to recommend you. It is one indicator of customer loyalty. That’s the whole basis of the NPS.
And the question is how likely are you to recommend our brand to a friend? In the B2B context you will add colleague or something like that. Always the same question. And the scale is always the same.
It’s always from zero to 10, many suppliers, although do one to 10. Which gives similar results, but it’s a little bit different, right? You have a 10% bias here. Keep in mind, the original is from zero to 10 and only the extremes are labeled zero, not at all likely and 10 extremely likely.
And then, the NPS score is computed out of this by taking the percentage of promoters who mentioned 9 and 10, you subtract the percentage of detractors which are all from six to zero. If you have 50% promoters, 30% detractors your NPS is 20. That’s a summary, simple question scale from zero to 10. And you probably know, the formula to compute the NPS score. It is not a mean, it is presenter scores subtracted which is also a weakness. It is made that way because you can explain it to everyone and everyone will understand it.
But the weakness is that if you don’t have so many promoters or detractors, and if your sample size is not so big it will be a matter of luck if someone more or less will be part of the promoters or detractors. The numbers are very much changing by noise. And this will make the whole score fluctuating.
When the sample size is low or when you are operating in the extreme, not very much promoters or not very much detractors. That’s NPS but you can of course alter or use a different one. Typically the market researcher loves Likert scales, more stable and also comparable across different regions. It calculates the mean, and every scale point has a label. With NPS, nobody knows what five means. It’s something in the middle. But then what does seven mean? You don’t know. In different cultures, the seven is interpreted in a different way. This can be eliminated if you put a certain wording on every scale point, that’s what you do in Likert scales. This has advantages of course to use it. On the other hand, it’s harder to understand the mean of 4.1. Other than that both are correlating highly and you can choose either of them.
There are other scores around loyalty Likert scale measures, loyalty, NPS measures loyalty, but you could also decide to measure the customer effort score. How much effort does it take to deal with us which is very different. In some businesses, it’s not so much about the loyalty or the satisfaction, it’s just taking the pain away.
That’s what it can decide for if you found out that it drives your business. And that’s where we come later in the following blog posts, which we will discuss, how you can find out which score is actually best for you, which is connected to your bottom line. Many companies even measure customer satisfaction.
And this is all where it began some decades ago, the whole movement of customer experience began with measuring customer satisfaction, but businesses realize that of course satisfaction, especially when it comes to the touch point, very much measures the moment which is fair. And you may want to know that, but it is very different than the loyalty, because the loyalty is driving bottom line and which is a long-term indicator. It is an attitude. The satisfaction is not so much an attitude. It’s more of a judgment in the certain situation and your satisfaction with that.
You need to reach out to your customers. You need to decide and need to think of all the channels. And there are two different approaches. One approach is to ask them, interview them in the moment, that’s what you want to do when it comes to touch point customer experience. You want to use the medium where you meet your customers.
It could be on the phone. In this call, you can ask them two questions. It could be on the website, it could be pop up, etc. or it could be face-to-face. Different forms of getting feedback, but the idea is to structure in the moment. The other way is to reach out to your customers and even with touch point customer experience surveys, many companies reach out after the touch point or you get an email the next day, which is not ideal, but sometimes it’s the only practical solution. And the channels are of course telephone, email which are the most often used, nowadays even text.
You can imagine people get an SMS asking… Hey, we had this touch point please rate us from zero to 10. How likely would you recommend us… The customers are answering five, sending it out. And then you send another SMS. Thank you. Why did you rate this way? And he can text back, an open-end and that’s part of standard survey platforms. You can choose those things very easily. There are even more options which are seldom use still a social sampling. You reach out to customers over ads. You can do that if you don’t have emails or you’re not allowed to email them you can still do ads. You can also direct messaging if they follow your profile or you can even initiate Alexa interviews. But the last three are certainly not too widely used, but they may become in the future. There are different ways of reaching out every way has pros and cons.
If you really focus on one way, your results will be more consistent because every way of reaching out has a bias. Someone who picks up the phone is a different person then someone who answers or clicks on emails or even read the emails. Actually if you mix everything if you do all of them, you have the biggest reach, you get most feedback, but you need to make sure that you control the method of reaching out the channels, because every channel has bias and you need to make sure that you control them. You will know, that the change in the NPS or the customer experience score is not due to different open rates or response rates in these channels.
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After you’ve measured your customer experience with a rating, you would like to know why did they rate this way? Very powerful… You should ask that directly after the rating. And do ask everyone the same question. Do not split in different questions for the promoters.
This is what we see often that companies ask detractors – what can we improve and ask promoters – what do you love the most in our service? And they do it because in this way you can more easily analyze the responses. But there are multiple problems with it. The first problem is you bias the response because you implicitly assume that there is a reason for being promoted.
They like something and there is not something they don’t like. You implicitly assume that detractor doesn’t like anything. But most importantly, you will not be able to spot differences. Many things that the detractors say the promoters would say as well.
The other way around promoters may also be criticizing certain things, but it doesn’t impact the rating so much because of being not so important. By asking different questions, you will never learn what’s important. You get answers, but you have no chance to prove whether this makes any sense or not.
Don’t ask the questions, ask one question and do not mark it as optional. That’s what we often see “optional” here you can put some texts in it. No, encourage your customers to talk, ask them for a favor. Of course customers can leave it blank but you should not make it too obvious because the feedback is important and also it is a value for customers as well to give their opinions. The benefits of open ends are quite clear. Customers love this way of giving feedback because it’s the most natural thing. It also is the shortest way to give opinion. We know that these quantitative surveys where you need to read alternatives and you need to decide, but you don’t want to click on anything because you either don’t understand that, or you disagree to the wording. The open ends don’t have that problem.
It’s straightaway. It’s super easy. You can use your words. That’s customer centricity. Customers want that. The only thing we need to make sure is we make the draw the most insights out of this. And then another benefit is, it is not only describing what people think but also it helps you discover things you have not thought about.
It’s qualitative as well. Also you do not bias here. If you have quantitative surveys, you always bias towards a certain answer. You bias if you ask about delivery time, you assume that delivery time is something in the relevant set or which is relevant to them, which is a bias. There are of course limits of open ends.
You do not learn everything about what customers have in mind. What customers write is they just tell you something that pops in their minds which is very important to them because this will send also top of mind, but basically that’s it. They will not talk about things that are with a need to think a lot about. That’s a limit that you don’t see everything, especially when it comes to very subconscious things – branding stuff. That’s where you also can get a lot of open ends, but then you need to ask different questions. Also asking different questions is not standardized that’s why it’s unstructured feedback. But we will see there are advanced tech that help us getting standardized measurements out of this information.
After the open-ended question, you can ask close-ended questions where customers can choose from a scale from one to five or multiple choice. They can choose whatever which segments they belong to and so forth.
It’s a close-ended question and important is always ask this after the open-ended question. Why? Because first and bias the results of the open-ended question. And second, also the input customers give and the open-end will be more sparse if they already have answered everything in close-ended questions and they will only write something which has missed in the close-ended question.
You get the richest feedback when you start open-ended question and then close-ended questions.
These are things you may want to consider for close-ended questions, which is the first source of response. If you do a touch point analysis, what touch point was the touch point you had before that? How did you arrive to our website? Did you Google it? Did you click on an ad? And so forth. This kind of source information you may want to capture as well as customer segment information, because you want to measure the texts that very much influence the customer experience. If you interviewing a luxury car customer, he has different expectations. He has different customer experience level than an entry level car customer. You want to know what kind of product he is talking about or what kind of segment he is in. That’s something very useful.
You could also measure some core aspects of your service, quality, service, price, brand, USP, whatever. That option when you want to measure things what customers may leave out you want to track that. But the limits here are not very specific.
What do I mean with specific? When the quality score drops from four to 3.8, what actions would you take? You need to know what should I do to drive quality? What if quality decreases you still don’t know what, but with unstructured feedback you typically get more specific feedback.
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There are three types of customer experience surveys, which is general CX, where you reach out to all your customers without the reason, second touchpoint CX, which is a survey after having a certain touch point and competitive CX, where you reach out to your customers and the customers of your competitors to learn what customers or what competitors do better than you. Then the NPS question is the most used form of measuring customer experience. There are other ways of doing it. You want to measure the customer loyalty as a long-term attitude and long-term measurement of the impact of your customer experience.
But you may also consider customer satisfaction as a short-term measurement of your performance. There are different channels you want to use for reaching out emails, texts, phone. Each of them will reach different people. The ideal situation is to use all of them because this can maximize your reach. When you do that, be sure to track this channel. So you can make sure you don’t have a bias when the ratio of those feedback is changing. In any way use the power of open-ends because that’s the most customer-centric way of getting feedback. It’s super intuitive.
It’s hard and it’s super rich. This discovers new topics you may not be aware of. As an option, you can also get a close-ended question. Most interestingly, where does your customer come from for touchpoint survey? And what is the context? What is the customer segment? What is the product he is talking about?
These are things you want to measure to control it. This is needed to find later on what drives customer experience…
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