Improving CX through Better Measurement

By: Dr. Charles Patti

For over ten years, The Cable Center (TCC) in Denver, Colorado, has been bringing together top customer experience management (CXM) executives from the cable industry to advance the practice of customer experience (CX). Under the banner of the C5 (Cable Center Customer Centric Consortium), our group meets twice each year—alternating between TCC (Denver) and the headquarters of a C5 member. With the support and oversight of Jana Henthorn, TCC President and CEO, C5 is a forum to share information about their company’s involvement in CXM (also referred to as CEM) and contribute data to CX research projects. C5ers discuss a wide range of CX topics, while research projects explore CX opportunities in areas such as self-service, digital and retail channels, a scale to determine CX maturity within a company, the use of rational vs. emotional messages to subscribers, and an ongoing study of call center metrics, which includes 14 metrics collected and analyzed over a three-year period. Through this exchange and mutual sharing, C5 members contribute to improving the industry’s customers’ experiences.

At the fall 2018 C5 meeting, the TCC Senior Fellows reported on their latest study—a look at the myriad of measures used to assess the impact of CX efforts on subscribers and company performance. We discovered several key points that promise to improve CX measurement (CXm). The study was grounded in the work conducted with Drs. Maria van Dessel (Senior Fellow at TCC) and Steve Hartley (professor and co-chair of the marketing department at the University of Denver), comprising an extensive review of the literature to collect and analyze all known methods of measuring CX. After reviewing over 80 papers on CXm, we found:  

  1. There are dozens of CX measures, but three dominate the measurement landscape;
  2. Linking CXm to customer journey mapping is important, although rarely part of the CXm program;
  3. CX measures can be classified as three different types;
  4. Asilo-orientation is the major hindrance to developing omnichannel measures of CX; and
  5. A CXm decision-making model does not exist. 

I’ll briefly discuss all five observations and provide a model that will help guide service providers in the communications industry to make better CXm decisions, which, in turn, can lead to better CX.

1. CXm landscape dominated by three measurement tools

Given the multitude of available measures, it is surprising that Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the only measure used by 45 percent of company respondents in a CustomerGauge study. The top three measures reported are: NPS (45 percent of respondents); customer satisfaction measures (38 percent of respondents); and customer effort (16 percent of respondents). The popularity of NPS is more about its early entry into the CXm space; implementation ease; and one-number evidence convenience, rather than about its ability to predict company growth. Nevertheless, the ubiquity of NPS enables benchmarking at the transactional, brand, and industry levels. While these are powerful drivers to use NPS, convenience of use (vs. relevance, validity, reliability, and predictability) should not be the compelling reason for selecting a CXm tool.

Customer satisfaction (CSAT) measures grew out of early notions of CX as an extension of customer service or customer care. CSAT measures are valuable because they show strengths and weaknesses of product and process features as well as brand perceptions. An analysis of measures of satisfaction found that equity (treating customers fairly) and disconfirmation (discrepancies between prior expectations and actual performance) correlate most strongly to customer satisfaction. However, satisfaction measures are perception-based, rather than behavior-based, and they are not strong predictors of repeat buying.

Customer effort score (CES) emerged from a large-scale study from the Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner) and their conclusion that effort is the strongest predictor of loyalty. The apparent shortcomings of measures in advocacy, loyalty and satisfaction could not be overlooked as managers observed that some satisfied customers still left a company while dissatisfied customers would stay with a company. Customer effort helps explain this anomaly. The traction of CES led to benchmarking opportunities and, no doubt, to multiple improvements in the effort component of customers’ experiences. Like NPS and CSAT, CES is perception-based and does not account for the gap between the expended effort and a customer’s prior expectations of effort. For example, the effort gap (EG) in using an ATM is small: I don’t anticipate much effort and, indeed, using an ATM doesn’t require much effort.


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