Recently, my colleague Sid Nakappan wrote an article on How the CEO can jumpstart the Customer Experience Transformation. If your boss put this article on your desk, you are probably getting started. With the interest of beginning with the end in mind, you want to know how you can define success. In your first year, your focus should be to establish a baseline on several key metrics. This article is intended to help you do that.
There are a couple of very helpful books that provide some great suggestions. While a lot of this was developed for B2C companies, there are relevant suggestions B2B companies can emulate.
- The Effortless Experience by Matthew Dixon and Nick Toman
- Chief Customer Officer 2.0 by Jeanne Bliss
Like most things in Customer Experience, the B2C world is leading, and the B2B world is pedaling fast to catch up. The principles identified in these books apply but require some conversion to the B2B world. For example, it is important to separate the vital few from the trivial many and to measure consistently.
The three most important categories of KPIs are:
- Ease of doing business – Many things can be observed, rather than surveyed. You want to understand how much time, effort, and money your customers must invest to reach their desired objectives.
- Satisfaction – We care about customer satisfaction, particularly at important leverage points, such as the buying cycle, the installation/deployment process, and engaging support. Surveys that catch customers in these moments will give you actionable data.
- Revenue – While clearly, you care about this for its own sake, you also need to understand what is driving your revenue, because it is an important way your customers communicate with you.
First, we must decide what we want to measure.
Following our perspective, all metrics can ultimately be categorized into three types, depending on how you intend to use them:
- Behavioral – Often the most difficult to measure, and from time to time you may need to trust your gut, what you’re seeing, hearing from your customers.
- Leading – Data points that you collect, that let you know if you are on the right path. These are highly correlated to Lagging Indicators.
- Lagging – These are the outcomes you are trying to drive. This is how you know whether you are delivering the right experience for your customers.
There is some natural overlap to things we identified in our article on Key Customer Success Metrics. In this space, there are many off the shelf tools that can help you capture these metrics at scale. Gartner has a great summary published here.
- Unforced Errors – Errors happen, but most are preventable. Identifying which customer issues were caused by different process failures is important so you can prioritize improvements. Additionally, you want to ensure you are doing root cause analysis so that you are treating the underlying issue, not a symptom. It is important in this process that you focus on the learning, rather than being punitive.
- Social Media Mentions – For most B2B companies, you will have a more manageable number of responses. However, with negative responses, there is the expectation of response. Many companies will have a Social Media analyst who will report on these and ensures that escalations are routed to the right owners in the organization. More sophisticated tools are available, that allow you to perform Sentiment analysis.
- Marketing Qualified Leads – While these are generally with new logos, they can also be from your existing accounts. This indicator can demonstrate that users and/or influencers see value in your content, and are choosing to invest their time in reviewing it.
- Contact Handling – Customer Effort Score varies by company, but you are looking for things that indicate you are easy to do business with. A minimal number of support contacts (ie, the product is intuitive). Depending on the channel that your customers choose, you may emphasize different metrics. However, it is important to measure consistently so you can track progress over time. Some examples of key metrics:
- Service Level Attainment – In some industries, an immediate answer is expected, in others, 30-60 second queues are tolerated. The important metric is the percentage of contacts that are answered within this target. The same applies for issue resolution. What percent of issues are answered within the Service Level Agreement. It is important to measure these from the customer’s perspective. They do not care when individual departments get their tasks done. They care about when their issue is resolved.
- First Contact Resolution – Customers are frustrated by asking for things more than once. Tracking what percent of issues are resolved on the first contact is a key measure of the effectiveness of your support team. A customer survey (sent with each closed ticket) can help you monitor this, and create a service recovery opportunity if a ticket was not in fact closed. More sophisticated organizations will track calls activity, and if a customer calls back for the same issue within a defined period (ie 14-30 days) it is counted as not resolved.
- Customer Surveys – We shared some best practices in our Customer Success, KPI Tool. While you will get lots of valuable quantitative feedback, do not underestimate the value of verbatim comments. These are often the most valuable, including your peers in Marketing, Sales, Product, and Customer Success. A regular cadence to separate the signal from the noise will make each group more effective.
- Expansion Opportunities – Customers expressing interest in additional solution(s) from you is an indicator of trust, and that you have “earned the right” to have this discussion. This goes beyond the MQL, towards a defined opportunity to present a solution to a Buying Decision Team.
- Customer Effort Score – This is a bespoke metric. When done well, many of the behavioral and leading indicators will be aggregated to calculate this. The goal here is to create a relative value from two different customers, so you can prioritize your efforts as well as seeing how the same customer evolves over time.
- Net Promoter Score – While the overall score is important, you want to track at the company, buyer, influencer, and user levels. It’s also important to segment the promoters, neutrals, and detractors, as they will require different actions.
- Retention and Expansion – Revenue is the ultimate lagging indicator, as customers vote with their wallets. However, there are two types of revenue that are most important to track:
- Retention – Do customers continue to buy from you? This is indicative that they are satisfied, and the problems you solve for them are worth the effort invested.
- Expansion – Are your existing customers choosing to buy more from you? This is a vote of confidence that you are delivering for them, and they are choosing to have a deeper relationship with you.
In order to drive improvement in these metrics, you must have a consistent definition that is agreed upon across departments. Please download our Customer Experience, KPI Tool, to drive the right conversations with your colleagues.