“Trending” reminds me of the fairy tale The Magic Porridge Pot, in which the pot wouldn’t stop cooking porridge and flooded the entire village. Just like that, CX professionals drown in an ever-increasing flood of metrics that they need to measure and report over time. This leaves CX professionals:

  • Handcuffed. CX pros spend time that they could use to motivate and enable employees to improve CX on other, less valuable tasks — such as obsessing over changing or deleting (bad) questions because that could affect the trended metric, or defending good metrics when there aren’t significant changes over trended periods (for example, because there are no credible efforts underway to improve CX . . . duh!), or explaining changes in trended metrics that aren’t significant.
  • Ignored. CX pros tell me their executives and colleagues disengage from CX reporting and, in consequence, from CX. Their audiences stop looking at dashboards or reports because they see the same information each time — neither the metrics nor their performance changes much.
  • Bored. CX pros bemoan that they spend a lot of time calculating and reporting metrics, especially when performance isn’t changing and CX pros have a less-than-interested audience.

Should we say “Stop, little trending pot”? (Those are the magic words that finally stopped the pot.)

No — instead, I have four recommendations on how to be more deliberate with trending CX metrics:

1. Sort the metrics you measure into three categories.

  • Beacon metrics measure customer experience and customer loyalty at the company level. Companies shouldn’t change beacon metrics often. Measuring and reporting those metrics is appropriate and required. But don’t expect performance levels to change drastically (especially if your firm isn’t doing much to improve CX).
  • Driver metrics measure CX attributes or operational indicators that are predictive of beacon metrics. The metrics may change more often; they might lose prescriptive value or cease to reflect customer expectations or operations. That’s why CX pros should validate them every 12 to 18 months. And while CX pros must measure driver metrics, they don’t always have to report them (more about that below).
  • Project metrics measure the success of temporary and defined CX improvement initiatives. Think of projects like a training program to help call center employees listen better to customers or to make the language on the website easier to understand. These projects will improve driver and beacon metrics in the long term. But CX pros must define specific success metrics. And they need to measure and report on the performance levels before, during, and after the project to determine the project’s success.

2. Focus on project metrics.

Work with stakeholders to define metrics that help judge the success of CX improvement initiatives (and then measure and report them). As a rule of thumb, spend 70% of the time you dedicate to metrics on project metrics and only 30% on beacon and driver metrics. That helps to ensure that your work is less about reporting the as-is and more about shaping the to-be. Focusing on project metrics also has positive side effects. First, it forces CX pros and business stakeholders to define metrics that allow you to judge project progress (trust me, that is not a given). Second, CX pros gain a willing audience for their reporting in those stakeholders who oversee the improvement projects and want to know if they need to course-correct.

3. Set expectations that you’ll curate what you report.

Never think or talk of a dashboard or report like it’s a compendium of all metrics you measure. Instead, set expectations with stakeholders that you’ll curate what you show. Always show beacon metrics on the dashboard, but gray them out when changes aren’t significant. Otherwise, only show metrics and insights that make a specific point — for example, a metric with a big shift in performance or a metric without a shift in performance when one was expected. This is not being opaque, but it’s a service that you provide to your stakeholders that they’ll thank you for.

4. Add non-trending-related insights to dashboards.

Reserve a space in the dashboard or report for interesting topics. Update the content each time you share the dashboard or report. Ideas for content include showing the results of an ad hoc driver analysis, a deep dive into a part of the customer journey, an update on the status of specific CX initiatives, or insights from an interesting qualitative study. A recent episode of The CX Cast with Jaap Wilms had very cool ideas for that.


Do You Have Appetite For More Porridge, aeh, CX Measurement Research?

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