Customer Metrics: Don’t Fail to Ask These 3 Questions

April 24, 2013

big data

What are the key performance indicators (kpi) you miss using only traditional metrics? While you probably have massive amounts of traditional enterprise data, you won’t get the complete picture without looking at new customer metrics. Social media and mobile technology create massive amounts of new and valuable “big” data. The challenge for leaders: mining this data to get the most meaningful information.

Most attempt to meet this challenge by segmenting the information into manageable chunks along traditional business lines: marketing, sales, operations, etc.  This focuses them on kpi’s they are already familiar with. It fails to capture the new, diverse ways companies interact with customers, such as social media and mobile technology.   Don’t miss out on the crucial information found in social and mobile interactions. To reveal hidden, valuable insight, ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • How do people become your customers?  We often think they become customers when they purchase something.  Not in today’s world.  Today it starts long before they buy.  They do online research, check with their friends, and they get to know your brand’s social media personality. Don’t just focus on purchases, downloads, or installations since those are outcomes.  Instead, ask: How did they first find your app in the ever increasing sea of available apps? How did they find your product among your competitors? Now that you know how they became customers: Is your organization doing enough to attract them? 
  • What creates unhappy, complaining customers?  It’s easy to create metrics showing how much revenue each customer creates. You can measure subscription fees, add-on products purchased, or click-through revenue, and so on.  But of greater influence is when customers have problems—a late delivery or a product that doesn’t work.  Social or mobile have given them the means to communicate their complaint and affect your brand, making it a minefield of dissatisfaction. Find information on anything that brings your customers out of a happy, additional revenue-generating mindset and focus on fixing that problem.
  • What happens when customers want to leave? Unhappy customers often leave like a bad break-up, talking non-stop and hinting they would like to stay as they walk out the door.   What happens to them all of those times they contact customer service or post on social media feeds, before they actually, really leave?   All of those interactions represent brutally honest customer feedback and almost revelatory data. This data tells you what you need to do to keep your customers.  Whatever their desire, during this small window they’re willing to express it, and perhaps even stay with you.  Understand it and change accordingly.

Most organizations have a ton of information that answers other, more common questions—what do they like about a product, what do they find most valuable, how many orders were processed and on and on.  Databases are overflowing with this data, segmented according to various organizational silos.  What most organizations lack, however, are answers to questions like the three I posed above, questions that cut across the organization and provide insight into the modern enterprise-customer relationship.  This information can provide customer insights that move you ahead of your competitors.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Optimize your performance with AMA's leading seminars.

About The Author

David F. Giannetto helps organizations leverage information—providing both the technology and methodology necessary to create, understand and utilize it to improve performance. Widely respected as a thought-leader in the areas of business intelligence, enterprise performance management, information management and analytics, he has led some of the most complex information-driven initiatives for today’s leading brands. He is author of two books, including The Performance Power Grid (J.Wiley & Sons, 2006), one of today’s leading performance management methodologies. He is SVP of Performance Management for Salient Management Company.


  1. avatar

    A very valuable perspective Mark. Thank-you for the comment. Customers have more power in the customer-corporate relationship than they did in the past. Without good oversight the misinformation you site can take on a life of its own within the social sphere and suddenly become ‘truth’ – tainting the perspective of your most passionate supporters.

  2. avatar

    Our pool needs to be fed using those photopages that you really consider worthwhile becoming part of the “Best Thought Collection”.

  3. avatar

    Today’s social media and networking can be as much a voice for misinformation as well as information. It also serves as a “soap box” for your customers – moving complaints quickly outside the traditional customer care processes. As David points out, good performance information used both offensively as well as defensively will allow a company to be proactive and protect their market share and reputation.

Leave a Comment