customer care metricsCustomer care metrics are a barometer of performance across a variety of customer interactions such as chat, text messages, email, social media and communities. Traditionally, these metrics have been cost-center oriented, intended to drive efficiency and productivity. CRM put another dimension on customer care metrics with profit-center orientation, intended to up-sell and cross-sell, increasing share of customers’ budget. Both of these orientations tend to be company-serving rather than customer-focused.

First contact resolution (FCR) was groundbreaking in the realization that customers’ judgment of performance is the ideal orientation. Likelihood to recommend and satisfaction with the customer care transaction are requested feedback from nearly every interaction these days, aimed at keeping a pulse on customers’ judgment of performance.

However, we may still need to re-think customer care metrics in use today if we want to adopt the ideal customers’ judgment orientation. It boils down to this:

  1. Customer experience is about the customers’ realities versus their expectations
  2. Customer experience is cumulative (holistic, history-informed, future-implied)

Let’s take a look at customer care metrics using these two fundamental truths.

A. Surveys:  Likelihood to recommend is more about the company’s interests than customers’. It can be an important overall metric, but it’s not a natural type of question you’d ask a friend or family member or acquaintance with whom you want to build a strong, long-lasting relationship. In a regular conversation with people in your life you probably ask something like: how well did this meet your expectations, what are your expectations, what could be better next time. Any of these could be drop-down lists or radio buttons with an “Other” write-in option. After that it may seem natural to ask about recommending.

These adjustments would help your survey get in-sync with the two fundamentals listed above. In any case, the degree of feedback requested should match the customer’s view of the importance of the interaction. My recommendation is to allow the customer to answer any or all of the above, without making any of them mandatory.

Satisfaction with the transaction/agent is germane to customer experience to the extent of the transaction’s role in the bigger picture of what the customer was trying to do in the first place. Most often, it’s certainly not the be-all end-all from the customer’s viewpoint. Offer the customer an opportunity to weigh-in on the issue they contacted customer care about, in addition to the transaction itself, and you’ll likely glean great insights about policies, processes, handoffs, business models and solution design.

Remember that the primary purpose of voice-of-customer is to run your whole business smarter than your competitors do. Allowing customers to tell you whatever they see fit, when, where and how they see fit is modernization of voice-of-customer to get in-sync with the two fundamentals of customer experience listed above. Automations such as text-mining, voice-mining, sentiment analysis, and intra-organizational communications now make it possible to generate high ROI on these feedback opportunities inherent to customer interactions.

Even better than taking customers’ precious time to answer what’s often already obvious, use technology to track customer sentiment at the beginning and the end of your interaction. If the customer is still frustrated or unimpressed at the end of an interaction, you don’t really need to ask them outright: was this good? Your staff members know this as well or better than the technology does.

How well did we contribute to your goals [or needs]? is a customer-centric way of gauging overall success. This question is about the customer, and whether there are any gaps still in what they need. You gain a lot more from this type of question. Response rates improve, too, when your questions allow the customer to self-assess, rather than requiring customers to assess you. For internal reporting, you can translate their answers to such questions to be phrased in terms of your performance. For example, informative, convenient, and easy to use are customer-centric phrasing, while knowledgeable, responsive, and user-friendly are self-centric phrasing.

B. Chat:  Customers expect chat agents and chatbots to quickly assess the customer context and access the needed information to solve their questions. Waiting and rephrasing are customer realities that may exceed their expectations. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Customer acknowledging that a provided solution is successful, or their use of the suggested solution

     • Customer wait time during chat

     • Customer requests for re-phrasing of questions and solutions

Text-mining applications can tabulate these metrics from recorded chat logs. If you know more about why your customers choose chat, make sure your metrics reflect the expectations and cumulative nature of the customer experience fundamentals.

C. Email:  Customers may use email when their time horizon for a solution is longer, or when they want to receive thorough instructions in writing, or when they’re too busy to call or chat. In any case there’s a window of opportunity deemed acceptable to the customer, and consequences when the reply misses the mark from the customer’s view. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Success acknowledgement from the question originator, or their use of the suggested solution

     • Incident turnaround time, by severity level and by customer-specified timing

     • Longest delay in queue

D. Text messaging:  Customers like texting for its flexibility and spontaneity which may be particularly appropriate for certain circumstances in a customer’s realities and expectations. You’ll want to measure effectiveness and efficiency from customers’ viewpoint. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Percentage of text message requests by repeat users

     • Percentage of customers acting on text message account alerts

     • Percentage of text message participants acknowledging solution as successful, or their use of the suggested solution

E. Social media:  Customers expect companies to be engage quickly and humbly to social media posts. They use social media to express themselves, learn from others, help others avoid pitfalls, and introduce others to good things. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Percentage of solutions acknowledged by recipient as successful, or their use of the suggested solution

     • Endorsement of solutions (such as number of shares, embeds, “Like” ratings, @replies, direct messages, comments, wall posts, third-party blog mentions)

     • Time from originator’s post to solution post

     • Originator’s sentiment changes after solution post

F. Communities:  Customers expect high quality, timely content from community members and administrators. Your metrics can monitor customers’ positive experiences and trust of the community as useful resource for their future needs. To be customer-centric, add these metrics:

     • Content rating

     • Endorsements (such as “Tell a Friend” or “Like” links)

     • Percentage of questions for which the originator acknowledged the answer, or used the suggested solution

     • Originator’s continued use in posting additional questions (unrelated to their first question)

     • Time from question post to answer post

     • Repeat visits

Conclusion:  Are you already using these metrics? If not, please experiment with these metrics to see whether they help you nurture relationship strength, brand differentiation, and customer lifetime value. That’s the promise of customer experience management, but we can only reap these business results when we are managing to them, with operational and selling objectives taking a secondary level of importance.


Image licensed to ClearAction Continuum by Shutterstock.