Most leaders rely on financial metrics to determine if the organization is performing as planned.
Their balanced scorecard may include other targets in marketing (market share, product sales), customer service (overall satisfaction) and HR (employee engagement) but the overwhelming weight goes to the financial quadrant.
Looking at organizational performance through largely a financial lens leads to matters such as cost reduction and control, process efficiency, inventory management, collections performance, functional outsourcing and productivity improvement dominating the strategic and tactical agenda.
This is an “inside” view of performance management ; it is a unidimensional approach to determining the activities necessary to enhance the long term health of the organization - and even adding an employee component continues the myopic inward gaze.
A sustained inward focus is unhealthy for an organization.
The customer metric must find its place in the hierarchy of priorities; it must be given equal status with its financial mate and preferred status to other internal measures.
Internal efficiency with customer dysfunction is a recipe for disaster; measuring customer perception is an absolute MUST for any organization wanting to achieve long term remarkable performance.
Customer perception is all about feelings so measure feelings!
What does the customer feeling metric look like?
1. How they FEEL about the service you provide; don’t rely on internal statistics on service performance. Internal metrics reflect what YOU think are the appropriate measures of service delivery; SURPRISE! they sometimes bear no resemblance to what the customer thinks is important. Do they feel ecstatic or do they feel you suck?
2. What aspect of your service they HATE and how do they think you can improve. It’s a visceral polarized thing. You want to know at the extreme negative end of the satisfaction scale that pisses them off the most.
3. What the DUMBEST rules and policies you have and why are they so outrageous. What really drives them insane about how you treat them? Internal rules and policies are the biggest triggers that force customers to go elsewhere; discover them and FIX them.
4. If you have a HEART. This gets at whether you are viewed as an unfeeling artificial organization concerned only about shareholders and profits or a caring team whose primary objective is to add value to society.
5. How they view the LEADERSHIP of the organization. It’s one thing to get an opinion from employees, and quite another to get this “external” perspective. Extend the 360 Feedback process to include the owners of loyalty.
These are questions intended to release an emotion response from the customer as opposed to merely looking at “the numbers”. They tell a different story than analyzing statistics, and paint a unique picture of how the organization is performing on the service front.
Numbers have no “tone” ; words and emotion convey the severity of issues and as such provide leaders insight into the priorities necessary to improve service performance.
It takes guts for leadership to expose themselves to this type of conversation.
But if they do (and listen and act on what is learned) they will be miles ahead of any other organization that is content with an inside view of what is needed to improve results.