Actions drive business change, not NPS: Is a metrics mindset undermining your CX programme?

8th Aug 2019
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Too many customer experience programmes are focused on chasing metrics, rather than driving actions. How can you ensure that your CX team becomes a fundamental driver of business action? 

The customer experience (CX) industry has matured quickly, but one thing still needs to evolve: the end result. CX has been buried in chasing metrics as the key CX output for too long now. It’s easy to see why. CX teams are under increasing pressure to demonstrate results and metrics provide a tangible way of doing that.

But metrics aren’t a result in themselves. They’re a measure of change and often a catalyst for that change, but they’re passive, not action-driven. With this in mind, CX teams are ideally positioned to revolutionise the role of CX from information provider to driver of business change.

That’s because CX teams already have all the tools and skills at their disposal to move far beyond sharing metrics and insight towards a much closer working relationship with stakeholders in which CX holds the key to initiate change programmes and monitor their impact.

While this might seem a scary prospect for some, it’s a good thing: it shows that businesses are beginning to understand that better business decisions are made when they are based on smart, meaningful data.

So how can we help drive our own CX revolution and put our teams at the front and centre of data-driven decision making? We think it comes down to embracing some critical mindset changes.

Stop chasing the metric

Actions drive business change, not NPS. That means proving the value of your actions beyond the metric. We’re not saying ignore the fundamentals of your role as a CX professional – metrics such as NPS, OSAT and CES are all important tools for the work we do.

But we need to use them in a context that delivers the necessary insight to make decisions – about products, processes or customer channels for example. So, we need to take two more steps: make sure something happens as a result of that insight, and then measure the impact of that action.

Essentially, this means we need to measure ROI, not just our own CX scores. To do this, we need to consider using smart data analytics to more accurately make evidence-based decisions, and then measure the business impact of those decisions based against relevant KPIs – more of which below.

Use data actively, ditch passive reports

Smart data analytics are fundamental to action-based CX programmes. Mapping and integrating feedback data against other, relevant data sources and business information systems makes sense of the insight you’re gathering.

Smart analytics also allow you to draw deeper meaning from unstructured data such as social channels and verbatim customer comments – often the most important feedback sources.

The end result is your ability to share insight with the wider business that specifically identifies the actions most likely to drive improvement and change, rather than a set of passive charts and tables that require further individual analysis. CX now becomes the source of the contextual insight your business needs to implement defined actions and deliver desired business outcomes.

Define goals in terms of outcomes, not statistics

These outcomes should, in fact, be the very objective of your CX programme in the first place.

Action-based CX means reaching out to stakeholders at the start, ensuring we understand their wider business goals before we begin to measure anything. This means we’re much better positioned to work in partnership with them to define how CX initiatives can actively help them deliver on their aims. 

Critically, we’re also taking ownership by agreeing CX-related goals with them and defining success using the measurements and terminology of the business as a whole – something that puts CX in much better stead for future investment.

Think innovation and change, not points and percentages

We’re trained to question - that’s a fundamental part of the CX role. But we often miss the question that should sit at the heart of our programmes: is there a clear call to action? To understand if there is, we need to make sure our programmes are designed to act as a catalyst for innovation and change, not just as a measurement tool.

Taking this a step further, we need to make sure we can track the action being taking based on the insights we gather. Someone needs to be accountable for carrying out the action, but this shouldn’t be the CX practitioner. Their role is to get agreement from the relevant line manager that they will own the action, then support their efforts to deliver it.

By staying close to the owners, we can use that CX analytical thinking to help them identify the business benefit of the action. As well as showing that NPS or OSAT scores have improved, we can seek out a correlation with revenue growth, reduction in churn or cost control, for example.

Communicate success in words, not numbers

Of course, numbers are important and CX metrics are a critical foundation of any CX programme. But we go back to the question of what you’re doing with those numbers once you have them.

CX metrics alone don’t tell you if you’re doing something right or wrong, or how you can change that metric. We need to translate numbers into meaning – and for us, this means speaking in words. Use the terminology your business understands and translate it into departmental areas of focus if necessary, too.

In our experience, you need role-based insight to turn metrics into action. This provides a clear demonstration of how their work affects their own roles, the wider business, and the overall customer experience.

Storytelling is key here, too. Share the successes – and failures – of the actions that the business has taken. Going back to the business and its customers to tell them, in a real-life context, what you’ve done to drive change is one of the most powerful elements of a success CX programme. The ‘you said, we did’ approach remains one of the best ways to drive internal engagement and build deeper customer loyalty.

CX becomes fundamental to action

We know that these mindset changes can’t happen overnight. And we also know that many CX teams and individuals already embrace one or several of these approaches. Bringing them altogether and then embedding this collective mindset within an organisation is no easy feat.

At the same time, proving ROI from a CX programme is a huge challenge for even the most experienced teams. But it is all achievable if we are pragmatic in our approach to action-based CX.

Rather than getting lost in building the most comprehensive, long-term CX model, take it in stages. Work with key stakeholders to identify incremental steps to success. Focus on specific improvement initiatives, rather than theoretical score value increases. This will slowly but surely create the essential link between CX and business outcomes and drive longer-term understanding and investment.

When this happens, CX teams will become a fundamental driver of business action and CX professionals the people who drive business change. A revolution indeed.


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Steven Walden
By Steven Walden
12th Aug 2019 10:25

NPS - the likelihood to recommend.
You need to think of the phenomena in question first.
A. Most answers are 0 since likelihood does not match reality. Think about it, your asking the customer to guess how likely they are at say a party or ad hoc conversation to state X brand.
B. Its the same as satisfaction
C. Most perception data by Cynefin analysis is dispositional. It formulates a vector not a pre-predictive machine like quality. Sure annoy me on the phone I score low and churn, your predictability has some credence. Other times, I give you a score that shows a growing tendency. But beware, emotions as with attitudes reflect learning, most of the time your alright and alright is good enough.

Ditch Kano, NPS, and take a co-creative, Cynefin and customer value view
Link insights (data and meta cognition) to action.
End of rant.

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