Customer experience: getting everyone to focus on the score

Wed 08 Jul 2015

Durably improving the experience of customers concerns all company personnel, not just those in direct contact with them. There are ways of federating everyone around this idea, for example by publicizing an "experience indicator". Governance and incentive systems are also essential to spur everyone to appropriate the same goals.

The three most-used customer experience indicators

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is today's most popular customer loyalty metrics.
To the question "On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company to others?", people who reply from 0 to 6 are known as "Detractors", from 7 to 8 "Passives" and from 9 to 10 "Promoters". The NPS is calculated from the percentage of Promoters minus the percentage of Detractors. Simple, easy to understand, and usable both in transactional mode (polls following contacts with customers) and relational mode (global customer loyalty polls), the NPS facilitates comparisons with competitors in a given market, even in different activity sectors. However, the volatility of consumer responses imposes very large samples. For small polls the Mean Recommendation Score (MRS), which is the average of the scores obtained, provides one alternative. Finally, the NPS being calculated from a simple difference, it can mask the relative weight of Promoters, Passives and Detractors whose financial values are different. It is important to analyze the financial contribution of each population to obtain a more balanced interpretation of the NPS.

The Customer Effort Score (CES) evaluates how much effort a customer must exert to have his needs met.
Consumers are asked "On a scale of 1 to 5, how much effort did you have to make to get your request treated?" It is confirmed in practice that a low CES (meaning little effort) tends to go hand in hand with brand loyalty, so this indicator is very useful for guiding efforts to deliver an improved customer experience. Nevertheless, in some cultures the notion of effort and its intensity are not always perceived as negative: making an effort to get a service may even increase its value in eyes of the customer!

The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) measures customer satisfaction level.
Consumers are asked "On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your overall satisfaction with the service X?" The CSAT enables, for example, analysis of customer satisfaction at any touch point with the company and sometimes proves more relevant than the NPS or the CES, especially for companies less exposed to the competition seen in customer-centric cultures.

Choose an indicator with care, then make sure it is accepted by employees

Each indicator has its advantages and disadvantages. What's most important is that all employees understand it and realize its pertinence, since in the end customer satisfaction depends on their efforts to achieve it.
Improvement of the chosen indicator should normally lead to better financial results. The indicator must not be too volatile, especially if it is planned to reward employees with monetary bonuses.
A test phase with the indicator is indispensable to avoid employee rejection of the choice. During this first stage survey respondents must be allowed to explain their rating and point to factors that could make them increase it. This qualitative analysis based on verbatim notes or videos must be conducted with totally transparently so that employees become aware of customer sentiment and the need to improve it ─ and how this can be done.

Four good practices when implementing a customer experience improvement indicator

  1. Make sure the indicator is approved at COMEX level (e.g. CEO, Board of Directors), ideally as part of a complete Customer Experience Management program. Allow some time for objectives to be defined. Conduct at least two measuring campaign (e.g. two quarterly measurements) to fix realistic objectives.
  2. Progressively correlate the achievement of a score with the remuneration of managers and employees, taking care to modulate bonuses by department and by personnel categories and pointing to means of improvement accessible to employees, whether they be front-line in direct contact with the clientele or in the back-office. The defined goals must be ambitious but reachable and must not excessively penalize remuneration. Some flexibility can be allowed in the achievement of objectives (+/- 10% say).
  3. Regularly review indicator improvement levers: about once a year, or when important market changes occur (new entrant, breakthrough technology, etc.).
  4. Monitor employee commitment using appropriate tools, for example an "employee barometer" (there are no happy customers without happy employees), or mirror polls in which the same questions are put to both customers and employees. When the enterprise has clearly overestimated itself, launch corrective actions plans; when results are better than expected this should be widely publicized.

Federating everyone around a customer indicator is essential for achieving operational excellence. The voice of the customer becomes the touchstone for assessing the relevance of all business, technical and transversal actions.