In this post we’re talking about the importance of customer-centric metrics and how changing your perspective on your measurements can make a dramatic difference to your operation. We can’t cover everything in this post, so if you’d like to find out more, we’d be very happy to discuss it in more detail.
What sort of metrics are we talking about?
There are two sorts of customer-centric metrics – inputs and outputs. The inputs are the metrics you track internally to learn whether customer delivery is moving in the right direction. E.g. service levels, rework, complaints and quality. The outputs are focused on end user and customer satisfaction levels, e.g. Net Promoter Score and specific customer and distributor satisfaction metrics.
The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.
Why do these metrics need to be customer centric?
Metrics are key to understanding how your operation is performing internally (in order to optimise and improve) and externally (to maximise service quality). In most organisations we work with, the metrics are internally focused with little real regard for the customer. A typical example would be when you have an internal metric set against a service-level agreement which measures delivery in days. So, you receive a piece of work allowing a 5 day Turn around the processing is 2 days the work is started on day 3 of being in the operation. Internally, you’ve measured a 2-day processing time with in a 5-day turnaround and you’ve hit the internal measure of 5 days. But this doesn’t measure the end-to-end journey the customer experiences and the actual time it takes for them to get the service asked for. The internal metric suggests service delivery was satisfactory. However, from the customer perspective, things may be very different.
The actual customer experience:
- Customer makes enquiry – 1 day
- In the work position for 3 days
- Request processed by operations – 2 days
- Weekend – 2 days
- Work dispatched in 2nd class post – 1 day
- Received by customer next day – 1 day
- Total of 8-10 days
A common problem we see with the vast majority of work in outstanding positions is the internal practice of completing work just prior to failure of service level agreements. This is mistakenly thought to be an effective and efficient working method. The reality is it actually increases workloads across the operation. We often see customers chasing work, wasting time in both the front and back office. From the customer perspective the level of service they are receiving is poor, from the internal perspective the level of service is within acceptable levels and may even be classified as good! Metrics are meant to be the guide that tells you how well you’re doing. But set up incorrectly, they can be misleading and even detrimental to achieving service excellence. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself if your metrics reflect an internal or external perspective.
Managing customer expectations
Technology is evolving faster than ever, and many operations have embraced this change to deliver better, faster service. For those operations that still run off slower and older systems, it means their service stands in stark contrast against the customer experience delivered elsewhere.
Measuring the right things at the right time
Measuring the right things is of course absolutely critical, yet the timing can be just as important. E.g. calls may be answered quickly during quiet times, but at busy times answer rates can fall below acceptable levels. Due to aggregated measurement, Grade of Service (GOS) looks good, but the truth is that at your GOS is poor at the busiest times, when it matters most to your customers. And that is what your customers will judge you on. So you need to make sure there is sufficient granularity in your metrics to enable you to drill down to understand where your problems lie.
Changing the way you measure
Are you measuring the right things? And are your metrics customer focused? Are your metrics aggregated and potentially misleading? Do you need more granularity to identify operational pinch points? Do you have consistency in what you are measuring across team function? Are your processes fractured and metrics siloed, or can you join the dots to view the end-to-end customer journey?
The golden rule for every business man is this: ‘Put yourself in your customer’s place.’
Most operations we work with have the same set of generic metrics. And while the metrics may be essentially correct, we frequently find that they’re measured from the wrong perspective. To get real value from your metrics you need to be able to drill down into them to learn whether you really are achieving consistent delivery. And once you have drilled down, you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask whether the experience is positive or negative?
Increasing your satisfaction scores
If you’re not selling a tangible product, high-quality service is essential if you want to achieve a higher perceived value and charge a premium price. If your metrics are truly in line with your customers’ journey, you can make changes that will improve their experience as they interact through the different touchpoints. The challenge faced by most companies is to be able to step back and look at metrics objectively, to see the end-to-end process and understand the customers’ pain points. Poor service leads to frustration which continually builds until customers turn off, resulting in high attrition and negative sentiment shared by word-of-mouth and social media.
Changing perspective is key, but exceptional service requires a more holistic approach. You need to have an effective work management software system that cannot only measure at a granular level but also highlight your hotspots for optimisation. Your internal data needs to align to show risks, quality levels, complaints, losses and costs in a heatmap to identify the core opportunities for improvement. You need to be able set up your software with the right inputs and outputs aligned with the end-to-end customer journey. Combine this with the right framework and methodologies, plus staff who possess a customer-centric mindset, and you will be on the right path to achieving service excellence.
If you’d like to find out more about our Nexus work management software, frameworks and methodologies, or if you have a more general enquiry about improving service delivery, we’d be delighted to hear from you.