What You Need To Know About 3 Common CX Metrics


In the feedback economy, customer experience (CX) matters more than ever. After all, today’s consumers, empowered by the internet, are capable of voicing delight or displeasure to untold numbers of would-be customers. Thus, CX is a driver of business growth, and the way companies approach measuring and improving their customers’ experiences through metrics and data necessitates contemplation.

Here are some of the common metrics used within CX surveys.  

Net Promoter Score

Asking customers if they would recommend your brands to others has been used by market researchers for decades, but in 2003, Frederick Reichheld shared the Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology. His research (with help from Satmetrix and Bain Co) showed a clear link between how likely customers say they will make positive recommendations and business growth. NPS was born, and executives took notice!

The NPS system has ‘strategic appeal’ for executives and CX managers with its descriptors, ‘detractors’ and ‘promoters’. The nature of the question ‘on a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend X to your friends and family’, means the metric is a good brand health score. 

If the methodology is employed consistently, NPS can also provide benchmarking across sectors, allowing for the comparison of one company against another in the same industry. Therefore, it’s often the measure used by researchers conducting industry reviews.

However, there are some limitations NPS presents that CX professionals should be aware of when designing a survey:

Trying to replicate the research Reichheld and team completed (showing a link to commercial metrics) can take considerable time and resources to execute.  If you need to prove the CX improvements’ value, other measures (5 point scale) may be easier and quicker.

Importantly, while NPS is a good indicator of CX performance across an organisation, it can fail to engage with local managers (e.g. shops, restaurants, hotels). You can have a good experience, but still not be willing to recommend the brand for many different reasons, many of which could be outside the local manager’s contract.  

Related: 12 Tips for Customer Experience Survey Design

In my experience, if you are using NPS and running a multi-location business, NPS should be used alongside another measure that local managers can fully influence (e.g. staff interaction or customer satisfaction). 

Description of each NPS score range

Customer Satisfaction Score

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scoring is commonplace as it is easy to deploy at the location level, and it can be understood easily. Location managers and their teams can directly influence a CX metric like CSAT. Therefore, it’s a good measure to help brands understand location variance within the organisation. 

Unlike NPS, which has a specific methodology (question and scoring), CSAT is more flexible and can be used on various scales (5,7,10).  I prefer a 5 point scale for simplicity, but there is no right or wrong way of calculating CSAT.  Many businesses use emojis and star ratings to enhance the survey experience for customers.  If you are considering these approaches remember to ensure the answer options you choose are equally measurable. (e.g. strongly disagree to agree strongly). 

CSAT is transactional by nature. That is to say that CSAT ratings are based on the last transaction or touchpoint.  Great for evaluating a specific touchpoint, but limiting if trying to understand the combination of experiences or touchpoints. 

Furthermore, measuring ‘satisfaction’ can be problematic due to the subjective nature of ‘satisfaction’; what one customer finds satisfying, another customer may not.  This is very important, especially if you measure experience across different cultures, regions and geographies.  Finally, is Satisfaction good enough? Whilst satisfaction is a good indication of expectations, if you are selling a high-end product or service, is satisfaction really the goal?

Customer Effort Score

In 2010, researchers from CEB found that reducing the amount of effort a customer has to go through to get their problem solved is a higher indicator of customer loyalty than delighting customers.  The Customer Effort Score (CES) is a measure of how easy or difficult it is for customers to transact with a company or service provider. It can be used transactionally, but also as a measure of the overall effort within experiences.

Related: Customer Perception: What It Is & How to Improve It

Conventional ways of obtaining CES data involve evaluating the level of effort on a scale from ‘very easy’ to ‘very difficult’. It can be on a 5,7 or 10 point scale. Companies using CES ought to deploy their surveys immediately after a customer makes a purchase or receives the service.  CES can be a useful measurement tool to use when evaluating the experience within contact centres. Customers have a problem to solve and maybe starting from a negative perception. CES is, therefore, more appropriate in this environment than NPS. 

However, CES doesn’t measure the overall relationship between business and customer; thus, it is often used in conjunction with NPS. 

Focus On Actions

While there are pros and cons to all CX metrics, including the three outlined here, it’s important to remember that they’re only as good as the actions they enable you to take. Think of CX metrics as acting like a car speedometer – they can indicate how fast you’re going, but they don’t tell you where to go. 

To navigate your company towards a better customer experience, make use of qualitative data and quantitative data from CX metrics. Qualitative data in the form of customer reviews and comments should guide a business’s journey in much the same way a satnav would tell a car driver which route to take.

Don’t get hung up on choosing a CX metric. Action is what matters most. 

Keep Reading: 10 Tips for Creating a Great Customer Experience Programme

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