Don’t Judge a CX Metric by Its Number

Don’t Judge a CX Metric by Its Number

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of scorekeeping when monitoring your brand’s customer experience metrics. However, the true value of your marketing research lies in the knowledge you gain about your customer experience based on the story the data reveals, not the numbers themselves. For instance, two CX metrics, of equal value, can reveal very different stories about what’s happening among your customers, depending upon the underlying composition of the data. This is true regardless of the type of metric being evaluated, whether Overall Customer Satisfaction, Customer Effort Scores, Net Promoter Score (NPS), or some other measure of customer experience.

That’s why it’s so important to carefully analyze and understand the story behind the data and not just focus on the numbers themselves. To illustrate this truth, we created a couple of scenarios using NPS, that show how the same score can tell a very different story.

Same Number, Different Story

Comparing how your brand measures up against competitors is one way to give your CX metrics greater context. For instance, many brands measure their NPS and use it to gauge performance within their competitive set. But, it’s important to look deeper than just the overall score itself. Consider the scenario below.

Brand A has gathered NPS data on their brand and key competitors, particularly their nemesis, Brand B. At face value, with an identical NPS of 50, the two brands appear to be on par with each other. However, when we look at the details behind each score, we see they are not quite the same.

Let’s assume these two brands are fierce competitors. The fact that 2 out of every 10 Brand A customers are detractors (noted in red) compared to 1 out of 10 Brand B customers, may warrant further investigation for Brand A’s marketing team, including questions like:

  • What’s driving lower NPS ratings among detractors?
  • Has the proportion of Brand A detractors increased, decreased, or remained the same over time?
  • What’s the distribution of specific NPS ratings among detractors? Are ratings concentrated around 6’s & 5’s or at the bottom around 1’s & 0’s (or some other combination)?

Without digging deeper to truly understand the story going on behind their NPS, Brand A might overlook an opportunity to improve their overall CX and strengthen their competitive position against Brand B.

There’s More to A Number Than Meets the Eye

Another effective way to monitor your customer experience metrics is to conduct ongoing tracking research on key measures. While point-in-time data is certainly useful, monitoring the shifts in key metrics over time is critical to assessing the health of your brand and the effectiveness of your CX program initiatives.

Continuing our story about Brand A, let’s assume that they took heed after analyzing their NPS, identified specific pain points among detractors, and put strategies in place to improve these sub-par customer experiences. In the scenario below, time has passed, and Wave 2 of their NPS tracking research is completed.

If Brand A’s marketers were only interested in achieving a higher NPS, they would be disappointed when their score remained the same at 50. However, that wasn’t the case. Their goal was to alleviate specific CX pain points that they knew were inhibiting customers’ likelihood to recommend their brand to others. The data from Wave 2 shows that they successfully cut the proportion of detractors in half (from 20% in Wave 1 to 10% in Wave 2). After a brief celebration, they would likely look deeper into their data to identify a strategy to maintain promoters (noted in green), as they decreased by 10%, and pinpoint opportunities to convert passives (noted in yellow) to promoters.

This Isn’t a Tale About NPS

It doesn’t matter what customer experience metric you might be evaluating, whether it’s customer satisfaction (CSAT), customer effort (CES), customer loyalty, NPS, or another measure, there’s always a risk of getting a little too caught up in the numbers themselves and the desire to see them improve over time, rather than focusing on understanding the story behind the metrics.

The fact is, in order to tell the larger story about your customers’ experience, marketers need to use their customer experience metrics as guides, helping them uncover what’s really happening in their customers’ lives. That happens when you look beneath the surface of your key metrics to understand why your customers’ experiences with your brand are either positive, negative, or indifferent. With that knowledge, you can get to work making their future brand experiences better than ever before.


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