Simply measuring success!

All organisations, particularly those engaged in delivering services directly to consumers, need to find ways to evaluate their performance. Are our clients happy with the ways we interact with them? Are we meeting our potential? Does our service delivery meet or surpass expectations? And what are we doing to resolve issues?


But how to approach this? The world today is awash with data and performance can be scrutinised from every conceivable angle. Collecting and using quantitative data on customer service performance (for example, how long on average do customers wait on the phone when calling us?) is often a straightforward and unobtrusive way to evaluate; however, without a qualitative context the results may be completely misleading. Traditional qualitative methods used to understand the service context are based on seeking personal feedback from the end user, often though a questionnaire. Unfortunately, customers tend to see such measures as an imposition and a waste of time, particularly when they provide:

  • Lengthy or irrelevant questions;

  • No acknowledgement or feedback to the customer on the issues raised; and

  • No apparent improvement in service.

In finding a balance between quantitative and qualitative performance measures, many leading organisations are choosing to implement a single metric of success with the aim of reducing the effort required by the end user without detracting from the quality of the data provided.

The single metric is simple, clean, clear and practicable for the end user. Following an interaction, the customer is given an opportunity to provide a single score as a rating of their experience. This could be an automated action at the end of a phone call or via a popup box at the end of an online interaction. This single metric rates the client’s experience with the interaction on a scale of 0-10; 9-10 being ‘Promoters’, 7-8 being ‘Passives’ and 0-6 being ‘Detractors’. Subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter).

A robust analytics function then enables the true benefits of the single metric to be realised. Each score triggers a consequential action; for example, Detractors trigger an investigation phase, whereas Promoters might lead to an individual employee or team being rewarded for customer service excellence. The scores help organisations to identify trends, excellence hot spots and poor results. This information then leads to more targeted marketing, careful monitoring of trends and remedial action to address underperformance and other issues. In terms of responding to negative feedback, the key is to undertake careful analysis of the scores to identify impacts, and then to direct resources to address high impact or high repetition areas of poor performance through a closed improvement loop. In this way even poor results enable end user-directed continuous improvement, thus turning a negative to a positive.

Karen Mackay-Smith
Principal Consultant