You’re proud of your business and its unique value proposition to customers. But how much do you know about what your customers really value about their experience with your company?
The quantifiable and the intangible elements of your customers’ experience combine into a holistic impression of your brand. Even a pattern as predictable as fast food’s call-and-response, callbox-and-two-window drive-through are complex experiences for customers.
Take this example from Twitter:
Most customer experiences aren’t so linear. Customers now expect to be able to connect with your brand on their terms and at their convenience. Users might fill out a form on your website or send an email to the head of sales. They might click on an Instagram ad or call a toll-free number. Channel changes complicate the task of tracing customer lifecycles and keeping track of customer stories.
The industry standard of measuring customer experience is in either loyalty, such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), and/or via satisfaction survey responses. Survey-based analysis has its own shortcomings, not least the percentage of people—satisfied, angry, or indifferent—who don’t respond to a survey. Subjective impressions of satisfaction don’t effectively measure the ease, speed, and quality of the customers’ actual interactions. Other quantifiable metrics—such as first-contact resolution, service level, speed to answer, length of call, or abandonment rate— provide functional results but are usually too siloed to tell how the customer experiences your business end-to-end. Did they enjoy it? Did the experience match their expectations? Did the company deliver the promise it made to its customers? Most importantly, did the company satisfy the needs of the customer that brought her in the first place?
NPS is not Enough. Enter KEI
At Kabbage, we’re developing a new method to quantify key experiences in the end-to-end customer journey and ensure we keep our promises. My team and I have developed a new system we call Key Experience Indicators (KEI) built to be more useful indicators of how customers are interacting with your business and whether expectations and needs are being met—or preferably exceeded.
We measure from the customer’s perspective (how she experiences it) and not Kabbage’s perspective (how we deliver it) KEIs measure speed, customer effort, and friction across all points of customer interaction.
We can identify the most critical customer interactions or experiences, which have high emotional import and a dramatic impact on our customers’ loyalty: the Moment of Truth. For Kabbage, the promise is straightforward: “Accessing small business funding shouldn’t be complicated or time-consuming, so Kabbage developed a simple way to get up to $250,000 in minutes.”
Kabbage promises customers a funding decision in minutes, without having to talk to a human, and funds in your bank account as fast as 24 hours. We can identify the percentage and characteristics of users for whom all three conditions are met. If something goes wrong, what happened? If a user forgot her password and had to call to reset it, that’s not a failure of a fully automated process. But if we weren’t able to connect to her business data quickly enough, that’s a problem we want to see and address.
Map the Customer Experience
Experts claim half of companies’ total spend on consumer product innovation is now aimed at customer experience. That’s consistent with 89% of companies now saying their primary differentiator is customer experience—a number that has more than doubled in the past few years. If you hope to gain market share or grow in today’s competitive climate, you’ll probably do it by providing excellent experiences in addition to your core products.
To put the KEI method to work for you, map the end-to-end customer journey and the customers’ needs. Do this by determining the steps customers take as they explore their options, find your company, decide to purchase, and use your product or service. Note how they interact with your business, and how and why they choose to leave or cancel. Be as specific as you can. Mine your own data to see if your hunches match your referral sources, revenue patterns, and expected trends.
Very likely, the pattern looks something like this:
Trigger phase: What makes your customer start thinking about purchasing your product? Is it an impulse after seeing your sign, storefront, or marketing materials? Do they want to see a new movie or buy a gift? Do they have a problem to solve?
Evaluation phase: How does your customer begin to compare your offerings with your competitors’? In some fields, this phase may include formal solicitations or requests for demos, or simply a web search for available offers or consumer product reviews.
Purchase phase: Once your customer chooses a product, they hand over cash for ice cream, confirm their rideshare, select a vendor to contract, or fill out your order form.
Experience phase: This is the moment of truth. The expectations your customers developed during their research (and the ones you and your competitors boldly promise) will be put to the test. Your ice cream will be the best they’ve ever tasted, handed over with a smile and a still-crisp cone. Or your installer arrives on time, dons shoe covers, greets the family dog, and cleans up the pile of drywall dust when he’s done. The product itself must be excellent—the cable has to work when he leaves—but if you want customers to remember you and recommend you, the experience must be exceptional from start to finish.
Identify your Moments of Truth
In your marketing materials, in your sales pitch, in your bids, you make promises to customers. Because we’re a small business cash-flow platform, our promises to customers might be different than yours. Once you have defined the KEIs and set up a measurement system, you can establish a baseline, conduct root cause analysis of friction points, and prioritize improvements so that you are able to meet the KEI target.
What are the moments of truth for your differentiating value? Find and define the moment of truth: the promise that you make to your customers that only you can keep. Measure it, monitor it, move your brand forward.