What Gets Measured Gets Experienced

You’ve no doubt heard the expression ‘What gets measured gets done’, an adage which seems to hold true, because the things we’re measured against typically drive our focus and behaviour.

After a lot of work in helping organisations improve their Customer Experience over the last couple of years, I’d like to offer a slight - but important - adaptation: what gets measured gets experienced (for better or for worse).

Bear with me on this: I’m not sure if it holds true all the time, and I’m sharing something here that’s still in its formative stages. However, as customer experience is becoming more and more of a differentiator amongst businesses I think it’s well worthwhile trying this modified mantra on for size. 

Let me give you some examples to illustrate what I mean by this adaptation: 

© Death to the Stock Photo

Early this morning at the airport I needed a shot of caffeine to wake up properly. Another red eye flight from a different time zone… I was met by a really cheerful person at the counter who gave a great welcome, asked me what I wanted (medium cappuccino) and then proposed their latest blend of the week (for the coffee).

I wanted to know more about the new blend. “100% Arabica,” comes the reply.

“How does it compare with your usual blend,” I ask.

“It’s lighter. 100% Arabica,” she replies. Now for me, I go to this particular chain for the robustness and strength of their coffee, so I immediately declined.

“Oh!” came the response, in a very disappointed tone, breaking rapport with me. Now of course these ‘special’ blends typically add a bit to the price, so I asked if she was being measured against how many ‘up-sells’ to the special blend she achieved. She confirmed she was, which was no surprise really.

A company that's really hot on customer experience would approach this in a different way. The person serving would find out first what the customer likes, and only then, if in alignment with the customer's preferences, suggest the 'up-sell' option. Think of it in the longer-term: if I'd accepted the different option and then not liked it, I'd probably have been more closed to future up-sell options even if they were more aligned with my preferences, which doesn't serve the company's longer term performance.

Now this can be a subtle but important distinction: as a customer I experienced her disappointment, the break of rapport and the slightly awkward service which ensued after what had been a great start, all of which impacted on my experience. In the competitive arena of customer experience, is this really the experience they want their customers to be having?

Another example: my local garage. After picking up my car from being serviced I'm told that I may subsequently get a phone call from the manufacturer to find out how it went. The service manager then requests I give them a 10/10 rating! Obviously their performance is being measured by the manufacturer, which in itself is most likely a good thing, but I find the behaviour it drives really annoying: an overly clingy, subservient, cringeworthy interaction that I'd rather avoid. If I could take the car elsewhere for its service I would, but it's tied to the manufacturer. Which means I'm more likely to switch brands in the future. However, if they realised the impact this was having, they could adapt their approach to one where when you drop the car off they tell you they want to make sure you have a 10/10 experience (usually they ignore you and leave you standing there like a lemon as they complete something on the computer rather than acknowledging you), so if there’s anything they can do in advance to ensure this, to let them know. Taking a proactive stance and anticipating customers’ needs could turn this around very positively, whilst still being able to monitor quality centrally.

Then recently I started using a new e-mail client on both desktop and mobile devices. It's fabulous, and the support is truly excellent, except that after every request for support you get an email from the person who helped you, asking you to write a review and to mention them in name as it helps them. So I wrote a review the first time round, mentioning the guy who’d helped me. Now I've had the same message 6 times round from different support staff, and I'm feeling like they've lost track of where I am on the customer journey. Well, obviously they have, and what was originally a 5 Star review is steadily declining. The company is clearly tracking individual help desk staff performance, which is driving this behaviour.

So if you want to improve your customer experience, one of the areas to be thinking about is the measures currently used in your business / area of work. Where are measures that are currently in use driving an undesirable experience? How could you change them? It seems what gets measured gets experienced. If you’d like to know the measures we’re now using with several trail-blazing clients, do get in touch. The measures drive better customer satisfaction, loyalty, word of mouth and your share of business for your sector. And no, it’s most definitely not NPS (Net Promotor Score)!

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