#16 Metrics- KISS rule applies, May focus in NPS forum, Spirit Air CEO in denial, apparently, great book reviews


Customer Strategy Newsletter

Welcome to the 16th edition of my customer strategy newsletter. The five topics this week are:

  1. Thoughts on metrics and communication
  2. May is ‘Goals and Touchpoints’ month on the Net Promoter System forum
  3. Latest blog posts
  4. Notable items from other sites
  5. Fabulous book reviews – thank you

Metrics – KISS applies!

We customer experience professionals tend to get obsessed by metrics and trends. In customer feedback and improvement systems, they are not the most important thing. Yes, they have to be trusted and reliable. Yes, they have to measure what the purport to measure. However, they should not be our focus. Our focus should be on improvements. The metrics should guide us in prioritizing improvements, particularly metrics that let us compare ourselves with our competitors.

Bearing in mind that the primary goal is to drive improvements, anything that distracts attention from that goal should be avoided. This is why your measurement system needs to be as simple as possible. Time you spend explaining the metrics is time lost for persuading people to improve processes and customer outcomes. I see two categories of metrics and metric discussions that should be avoided:

  1. Complex metrics that combine multiple data points may be intellectually pleasing, but are impossible to communicate effectively. I subscribe to lots of newsletters and blog feeds. Not a week seems to go by without someone proposing a new customized metric that they say is a better revenue predictor than a single number. That may well be true, but it is not the point of a measurement and improvement system. Do your best to keep to a single metric, based on a single survey question, and avoid wasting precious communication time.
  2. Metrics that do not have a standard definition are problematic in that communication errors are frequent. The most common metric that does not have a standard definition is a CSAT score. While it is most commonly measured on a five-point scale, some people use a seven-point scale. Different people use different definitions of ‘Satisfied’. Some consider every score except the very lowest to be ‘Satisfied’, for example. There is a subset of the problem, which is people who want to propose completely new definitions of words or metrics. I read a proposal to redefine CSAT on a two-point scale (‘Good’ or ‘Bad’) yesterday morning. An interviewee in a recent podcast wanted everyone to adopt a new definition of the word ‘Happiness’. All of these waste time and distract your audience from understanding improvement needs and working on them.

Whether you use the Net Promoter System, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Customer Effort Score (CES) or another system, the most important input a customer gives you is not the score. It is their answers to the open questions you should be asking: ‘Why did you give this score?’ and ‘What should we improve?’ Don’t waste time on anything else.

May is ‘Goals and Touchpoints’ month over at the Net Promoter System Forum

‘April is answers month’ was a success over at the LinkedIn forum I manage. On Tuesday, I asked members to vote for the May focus area or areas. Goal-setting and Touchpoint research finished at the top of the list, so I want to devote two weeks to each, starting with goal-setting as of today. The group is here.  LinkedIn now requires you to ask to be a member of any group you want to join. I have set up a large number of email domains to be automatically accepted, such as ibm.com, accenture.com, hpe.com and many others.

I have to say that I understand the LinkedIn decision on this. I receive multiple spam membership requests daily. They show up briefly in the queue until LinkedIn’s own routines delete them. They are recognizable because they come from people with no LinkedIn profiles and who cannot be reached via LinkedIn messaging. I found this surprising at first. Anyway, if you are not on the automatic acceptance list, I always approve new requests within 24 hours. You can also invite new members yourselves, if you are already a member. Such requests are automatically approved. Feedback has been positive on the changes I made over the last six weeks, so I would like to encourage you to join the community if your are not already a member.

Our latest blog posts

Older posts are of course still available on the blog page.

image Virgin Atlantic and how to over-recover Detractors

All of this talk about the United Airlines customer experience fiasco reminded me of the opposite experience Virgin once gave a colleague… Don’t be afraid to over-recover Detractors. Note that my former DEC colleague has just confirmed that all of what follows is 100% true…

image I suppose it all started in a bathtub in 1981

A story about my first great learning experience about customer research. If you think you already know what customers want, you are probably wrong. At the time, was was working for the Wrangler jeans parent company in Paris. My job title was ‘Quality and Engineering manager”. My boss, meanwhile, was in his bathtub…

image Do your company leaders care about customers? Here is how to know

“Our customers are our top priority.” “Everything we do, we do for our customers.” “Customers come first.” Internal and external corporate communication is full of statements like these. Do they actually mean anything? Here is how to know.

Notable customer experience items from other sites

Spirit Air CEO congratulating himself without having improved anything

Bob Fornaro became CEO of Spirit Air in early 2016. Sprit has long been at the bottom of customer satisfaction research for US airlines. Here is what he had to say to analysts last Friday, “For a very long period of time, we didn’t run a good airline.” Meanwhile, and before he spoke, the first American Customer Satisfaction Index numbers for 2017 are in. Spirit did worse than in 2016. They declined by a point and remained in last place while the industry as a whole improved by three points. The ACSI data is here. This is just another example of the ongoing communication challenge faced by customer experience professionals. CEOs of public companies have to report financial results every quarter. Customer experience improvement take 18 to 24 months to produce significant effects, and even then your competitors may improve more quickly. Of course Mr. Fornaro was able to find a metric that has improved. However, he is still not running a good airline, according to his customers. You can find a relevant article here.

11 ways to improve Net Promoter Score surveys – Jay Baer on Medium

Jay Baer write this nice article about how to improve the surveys themselves, rather than the actions you take based on them. He covers items like subject lines, reminders, and various aspects of personalization. Well worth reading if you want to get better response quality and improve response rates. The article is here.

Thank you for the kind book reviews

Peter and I have been delighted with the excellent reviews of our books on various Amazon sites. (We can assure you that we do not write any reviews for ourselves, and we have not ghost-written them for others either.) You can visit my Amazon author’s page here. Links to the reviews are at the bottom.

Thanks for reading. Please share with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to sign up for the newsletter here. I have put links to past newsletters on the subscription page. Finally, please feel free to change or cancel your subscription using the link below.

You can also email me, Maurice FitzGerald, at mfg@customerstrategy.net.

To change your subscription, click here.