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Annette Franz

Quality Insider

It’s Not About the Metric

Listen because you want to understand the customer

Published: Monday, March 30, 2015 - 12:14

In November 2014, I participated in the Hooked On Customers Summit, a webinar series hosted by Bob Thompson of CustomerThink. I joined Thompson, along with Jeanne Bliss, in the first webinar, “Creating Actionable Insight from a Customer Listening Engine.” Bliss talked about the role of the chief customer officer, while I ran through my six steps to turn VoC into action.

One of the questions posed by Thompson during the webinar was, “How can managers avoid the metric becoming a goal rather than an indicator?” This is a great question and one that needs to be addressed early and often in any customer experience management effort. All too often, we see companies chasing the metric, whichever one they choose, and trying to figure out how to move the number rather than appreciating it for what it is—a number that gives you a moment-in-time read on how you’re performing, and that’s it. It doesn’t tell you what you’ve done right or wrong, and it doesn’t tell you how to move the number.

The Los Angeles Angels’ first baseman, Albert Pujols, was once quoted as saying, “I don’t get caught up in numbers. I think when you start doing that, you start disrespecting the game. You start forgetting what your main focus is, and that’s winning and helping your ball club to win.”

Amen to that! When we get caught up in the metric, when we place our focus solely on the metric, we lose sight of what it is that we’re really trying to do: improve the customer experience. When we focus on the metric, we try to tinker with things here and there just to see what moves the needle, and we don’t think about the big picture.

Sure, the metric can help to rally the troops—but that’s only if it’s presented in the right context. It’s not the right context if you:
• Mention the score without even talking about the customer and the customer experience
• “Game” surveys just to get a score
• Threaten disciplinary actions or lost compensation if an employee doesn’t achieve a certain score

How, then, do we avoid the metric being the goal rather than an indicator? Here are a few suggestions:
• Talk about customers—and what your customers are saying.
• Make the metric the last thing you talk about—or don’t talk about it at all.
• Share what’s important to customers.
• Tell stories about customer successes and customer experiences.
• Focus on behaviors and what it takes to improve the experience.
• Share customer feedback and verbatims.
• Act on the feedback.
• Coach and praise based on feedback and the experience the customer had.
• Focus on business outcomes.
• Ensure that employees have a clear line of sight to the customer.
• Finally, give employees a clear understanding of how they contribute to the customer experience.

Don’t measure for the sake of measuring, and don’t listen just for the sake of measuring. Listen because you want to understand the customer and where the experience is falling down (or standing up), and then act on what you hear. Don’t just focus on improving the score; improve the experience, and the numbers will follow.

I think author Simon Sinek said it best: “Focus on the vision and the numbers will thrive. Focus on the numbers and the vision will struggle (and so will the numbers).”

First published March 17, 2015, on the CX Journey blog.


About The Author

Annette Franz’s picture

Annette Franz

Annette Franz, CCXP is founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc. She’s got 25 years of experience in both helping companies understand their employees and customers and identifying what drives retention, satisfaction, engagement, and the overall experience – so that, together, we can design a better experience for all constituents. She's an author (she wrote the book on customer understanding!), a speaker, and a customer experience thought leader and influencer. She serves as Vice Chairwoman on the Board of Directors of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), is an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council, and is an Advisory Board member for CX@Rutgers.