Outstanding Customer Service

Your ultimate guide to Outstanding Customer Experience


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The Only Customer Service Metric You Will Ever Need


customer service metricGiven the importance of customer service in the customer experience equation, it is surprising how few companies are actively tracking customer service metrics.

Oh, sure, a lot of companies are leaning on Big Data to measure and track their overall customer experience.  Consumers are inundated with surveys that track Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and Customer Effort Scores (CES).  Often referred to as Voice of the Customer research, they  track the impact of overall customer experience, including service, processes, policies and practices.  They are great for keeping score, but not terribly effective as a tool for improving customer service.

WOW Customer Experiences Are Created By People

Customer service is still the most important part of the customer experience equation.  Research on WOW customer experience tells us that over 9 out of 10 WOW moments are a direct result of the actions of an employee or employees.  It is the people in an organization that create the moments that lead to word-of-mouth and viral social media.  That is why customer service training has become such a great focus over the last decade.  This isn’t to say that process, practice and policy improvement isn’t important, but it only makes sense that companies should have specific customer service metrics in place.  How can we legitimately claim to be improving customer service if we haven’t quantified it and tracked our performance?

It All Boils Down To One Customer Service Metric

So, how do we measure the degree to which we are delivering customer service.  For retailers and contact centers there are very effective mechanisms such as mystery shopping, but customer service in most other industries seems much harder to quantify.  But it’s really quite simpler than you might think.  There’s only one question that needs to be asked:

When the customer walked away or hung up, did he (she) feel like you genuinely cared about him.

That’s it. That’s all.  Fundamentally, customer service can be measured by the degree to which a customer feels important and cared for.  The research tells us that the dominant characteristic of negative customer experiences, 82% of the time, is the feeling that an employee just didn’t care about us.

It’s Actually Quite Easy to Measure and Coach

Imagine you’ve just had an interaction with a customer, and you want to assess how well you did.  All you have to do is ask yourself this one question – “When the interaction was finished, did the customer feel that the employee genuinely cared about him?”  When you start to look at interactions though this lens, you quickly realize how black and white the answers really are.  Very rarely do you end up thinking “Huh, I’m not sure.”

It is a terrific self-diagnostic.  Even people who aren’t tremendously introspective have a hard time not seeing the truth.

The same process works if  you are a manager who is actively coaching your team.  You observe or listen to an interaction, and when it is complete, ask your employee, “Did that customer walk away/hang up believing that you cared about him?”   If the answer is ‘no,’ you follow up with, “what could you have done differently to achieve that?”

Now, imagine if managers recorded employee interactions on a daily basis, and tracked it over time.  That’s when you see the more actionable “Little Data” begin to make a difference that “Big Data” can’t.

The Only Customer Service Metric You Will Ever Need
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2 thoughts on “The Only Customer Service Metric You Will Ever Need

  1. Great question Cindy!

    I guess the first thing in this case is to distinguish between ‘customer satisfaction’ and ‘customer service.’

    Using the ‘did the customer get the message I cared’ question is a great way to review the language and approach in an email – to gauge how they might feel about customer service in an interaction.

    Customer satisfaction, however, is more of an overall customer experience thing, and will also be impacted by pricing, product availability, speed of shipping, problem resolution, etc. For that, you really do need a more broad, survey-style approach.

    As consumers, we are all surveyed to death these days (as you identified!), but there is a Voice-of-the-Customer approach that works well with B2B. (It’s a service our RetailTrack division provides for our clients, but you can also do it internally).

    The trick is to use an active approach – via telephone. Create a 3-4 minute questionnaire (no longer), and have someone contact your clients. You will find that the response rate is far higher than email, and you are able to get more useable data.

    One thing that is very important, with this methodology, is to flag problems that are identified, and follow up immediately with them. (The last thing you want is for someone to provide feedback, then get the feeling that it went into a black hole).

    I hope that helps!

    All the best


  2. Shaun, I work in a manufacturing facility. We interact B2B – 85% email/ 15% phone call. I struggle with how to get a good feel for our customer satisfaction. A targeted survey is something we’ve discussed, but, it’s one more survey the customer has to deal with. How can I get a feel for WOW when we have so little personal contact with our customers?


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