Many of the most popular customer satisfaction measures are ineffective for monitoring customer experience (CX).

CSAT, NPS, CES – these metrics all give you a glimpse of your customer experience, but not the whole picture. Traditional scores tell you about the customer’s thoughts or feelings at a particular moment, rather than summing up the entire experience.

So how can you get beyond the limitations of these metrics – and meaningfully monitor customer experience?

Customer journeys are key

Great customer experiences demand exceptional service at every touchpoint. This is why focusing on customer journeys is a good way to improve your CX monitoring. By monitoring CX scores at different stages of common customer journeys, you can identify areas that need to be improved.

Once you have mapped your customer journeys, you can choose metrics for measuring customer experience at each stage. The metric you choose will depend on the processes involved.

For example, at the beginning of a customer journey, you might rely on a metric from your web analytics, such as page views or bounce rate, to understand how well your content is performing. At the end of a journey, you might use a score like CSAT or NPS. And to understand the overall performance of the entirety of your products, services, operations and support, you might use lifetime value (LTV).

Let’s look at these different metrics and consider how they can be useful in measuring and monitoring your customer experience.

Customer satisfaction (CSAT)

This classic score relies on customers self-reporting their level of satisfaction with your products or services. It has a place, but it also has limitations. For example, customers typically provide a score based on their experience at that moment. Even if customers are encouraged to report on their overall satisfaction, in reality they are unlikely to be able to convey the entirety of their experience, including the ups and downs, in a single report.

Average customer lifespan

Changes to this score tell you a lot about your performance over time. Naturally, you would expect that efforts to improve customer experience would also increase the length of time that you retain customers. If this value is falling, you need to know why.

Customer lifetime value (LTV)

There are several ways to calculate lifetime value, but all versions are designed to help you understand how long customers stick with you – and how much they spend during that time. This is another long-term metric that summarises the entirety of the customer experience. It is a useful barometer of your effectiveness at delighting customers.

Customer churn rate

This metric is useful for measuring how many subscribers you lose or gain in a month. Of course, there should be more customers joining than leaving, but it’s also useful for monitoring the speed of new customer acquisition compared to the rate of customer drop-outs.

Net promoter score (NPS)

This is another classic metric that relies on customers assessing their satisfaction at a particular point in time. It is useful, but limited in value when it comes to monitoring customer experience.

Cart abandonment rate

The Baymard Institute estimates that the average cart abandonment rate is 68.53%. How does your organisation compare? You may not have an online shopping cart equivalent, but you may have a similar score for monitoring how many customers complete your onboarding process, or convert from receiving a quote to signing up. Either way, the score tells you a lot about how effective your marketing, branding and communications are in keeping customers satisfied and addressing their needs.

Customer effort score (CES)

How much effort do your customers have to exert to get onboard? This self-reported metric is useful, but it is another score that depends on the customer’s state of mind during a moment in time.

Average handling time (AHT)

This contact centre metric can tell you whether customers are having trouble using your services – and whether common issues with your products are changing over time. For example, if customers face more complex challenges with their purchases, they may need to spend more time with a customer support agent, which will then increase AHT.

First call resolution (FCR)

This is another contact centre metric that can act as a bellwether of patterns in customer support. It can be helpful to identify customer experience improvement and failings – but as a standalone metric it is not enough.

Time taken

Measuring the time taken to complete a process – such as a sign-up or contract agreement – can help you gauge the overall customer experience.

Drop-out rate

How many customers do you lose during the sign-up process? How many customers do you lose before they ever get value from your organisation?

Integrating customer experience monitoring

Another challenge for organisations that want to monitor and improve CX is: how do you seamlessly gather data about customer satisfaction, without intruding on the customer journey – or frustrating your customers with surveys?

One option is to try to focus on metrics that are captured automatically, and to only ask customers for very simple measures of their satisfaction – such as a binary option of happy or unhappy – or a satisfaction scale with five points.

There will always be a need for deeper customer surveys, but these may be best kept as standalone efforts that don’t automatically intrude on the average customer journey.