I participated recently in another one of these awesome forums where CXers gather to chat and share ideas about our profession.  The main topic centered on VoC approaches, and at one point someone brought up the challenge of interpreting his company’s NPS results.  To paraphrase him, sometimes one Customer may rate an experience as a ‘0’ while another Customer may rate the exact same experience as a ‘10’.

The concern was echoed around the virtual room, and it got me thinking about NPS and its utility.  My main contention was that (as I’ve stated elsewhere) people are people, and the same professor who never gave anybody As is also unlikely to give anybody 10s no matter which top-line CX KPI you use.  But this particular concern about NPS gave rise to a more acute criticism I have of that as a metric:  It rarely has anything to do with anybody’s actual CX strategy, therefore it makes no sense to use it.

On the other hand, with things like C-SAT, if you’re asking your Customers a purely subjective question, don’t be surprised if their responses vary as wildly as your Customers themselves do.  One person’s ‘satisfaction’ is another person’s disappointment…not because people are fickle, but because they go into the experience with different needs, desires, aspirations, and expectations.  And when it comes specifically to using C-SAT, it’s even tougher because, while the likelihood to recommend question is just as detached from your strategy, at least that’s got something tangible associated with it:  Will you or won’t you recommend?  ‘Satisfaction,’ on the other hand, has many flavors and nuances, which makes the subjectivity even worse.

But the vagary is universal if you’re not asking with an intent to learn; the summation of my own experience in terms of whether or not I’ll recommend your product or whether I’m satisfied with my most recent interaction with you may have very little to do with what you, as a brand, are trying to accomplish with your CX efforts.

For example, if I purchase something from you that I consider a super-important, vital piece of my routine or life, I may find more satisfaction in its durability or reliability.  But a more wealthy or affluent Customer of yours may simply want it to be easy to order, and for it to deliver quickly, and not to otherwise have to think about it.  That other Customer, for that matter, likely may not worry as much as I do about its cost, either.  Both of us may have the exact same experience (same price, same ordering and delivery experience, same reliability), but because we value things differently, our levels of satisfaction would be completely different.  The objectivity of how we rate things we value is compounded by valuing different things in the first place.  If your CX KPI doesn’t take that into account—or rather, it doesn’t take into account what’s important to you as a brand—you’re not going to find much insight in those numbers, regardless of which metric you choose to use.

Likewise, even though my estimation as to whether or not I’ll recommend your product or service to others is dependent to a great deal on my experience with your brand (again, the subtleties of which I may value differently than another Customer), my inclination to do that sort of thing as my nature will also play a role.  I may just not be the sort of guy who recommends products and services to others.  Perhaps I don’t even want people to know that I use a certain type of product or service.  It doesn’t offer you, the brand, much in the way of actionable insights because, well, it’s got nothing to do with what you’re trying to accomplish as a brand.

That’s why the Brand Alignment Score makes so much more sense.  Ask your Customers how well you’re delivering on your Brand Promise.  You may be striving to be the luxury, high-quality, easy-to-use, cost-saving, or some other brand (please, choose only one!) in your industry.  Surely your marketing team put a lot of effort (and cost!) into determining that this was just the sweet spot you want to corner as a brand…you’ve put all your product and engineering resources into delivering on that Brand Promise.  Why, then, if you’re trying to measure your Customer Experience, would you waste the opportunity to ask your Customers what must seem to them to be an unrelated question about whether or not they’d recommend your brand?  Or on the other hand, why ask them such an open-ended and subjective question as whether or not, generally speaking, amorphously, they’re ‘satisfied’ with their experiences?

Want to know if you’re living up to your Brand Promise?  Want some fidelity around the answer?  Try this:  Ask your Customers that.  There’ll always be subjectivity when you ask different people questions about their opinions—that’s how opinions are, after all.  Why add more subjectivity unnecessarily by asking questions that don’t focus on your CX strategy?