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Which Voice of the Customer Metrics to Use & When

September 25, 2023

The importance of a good customer experience (CX) can’t be understated.

Good CX drives revenue by as much as 84%, creates loyal customers, and is the basis for a successful referral program.

Bad CX on the other hand drives customers away. In fact, 59% of customers in the U.S. will walk away from a company they love after several bad experiences with them (17% will leave after just one.)

By tracking Voice of the Customer (VoC) metrics, you can monitor your customers’ happiness, loyalty, and feelings towards your brand and business – helping you make better, more impactful decisions.

This feedback can be gathered at particular touch points along the customer journey, or you can dig into how customers view your company as a whole.

But which VoC metrics should you use? And when? Let’s find out.

3 Voice of the Customer KPIs (And When to Use Them)

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS measures the overall relationship you have with your customers. It works by asking a single question (known as the NPS question):

On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this company/good/service to a friend?

This question is asked in a short NPS survey and can be tweaked depending on whether you’re conducting a relationship or transactional survey (more on the difference between those below).

Based on the responses to that question, you can group your customers into three categories: promoters, passives, or detractors.

  • Promoters are customers that give a score of 9 or 10. Essentially, they’re thrilled with their experience, and they’re likely willing to talk about it with others in a positive way.

  • Passives give a score of 7 or 8. While they’re not unhappy with their experience, they’re not exactly enthusiastic about it either. Passive customers won’t typically talk about their experience with others (whether positive or negative), and they’re more susceptible to competitor offers.

  • Detractors make up the rest, scoring your business between 0 and 6. They’ve had a bad experience, and they’re likely to complain to others unless you take action to address their concerns.

Who Should Use It (And When)?
For such a short question, NPS is a surprisingly versatile voice of customer metric. B2B businesses of all shapes and sizes can use it to get a clear understanding of overall customer experience and loyalty.

This lets you link your customer data to your revenue and quickly take action on any CX problems you uncover.

Try it for yourself with our Account Experience NPS platform.

So, when should you implement NPS?

Interestingly, you can use NPS at a broad, bird’s-eye level or go granular, drilling down into specific interactions.

In other words, you can look at the overarching relationship between your business and your customers, or dig into the individual touchpoints (transactions) that make up your customer journey.

Here’s how the two approaches differ:

  • Relationship NPS: This is how your customer views your brand overall. It’s a long-term measurement that tracks the ebb and flow of your CX. The goal is to determine customer loyalty and minimize churn.

  • Transactional NPS: While relationship NPS is all about the big picture, transactional NPS helps you get closer to your customer’s experience with particular areas of your business. For example, what do they think about your customer support? How do they rate your checkout process? Measuring these touchpoints in isolation can help you improve critical aspects of your customer journey.

Read more: Relationship vs. Transactional Net Promoter Surveys (When & Why)

2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT helps you gauge how happy a customer is with either a specific interaction or their general experience of your company, by simply asking: “How satisfied are you with [blank]?”

You can fill that [blank] with whatever you like, depending on what you want to find out about your customer journey.

Perhaps you want to see how your customer support staff are performing (to pinpoint staff worthy of praise or in need of training). Or maybe you want to know if your customer is enjoying their newest purchase, or if customer service was up to scratch.

No matter your question, your customers will give you a response according to a scale that you’ve set up.

This can be from 1 to 5, 1 to 7, or 1 to 10, where the lowest number is “very unsatisfied” and the highest number is “very satisfied.”

Alternatively, you can use a range of smiley faces, from 😠 to 😁. It’s up to you!

Once you have your customer responses, you need to find the percentage of customers that gave the two highest scores.

On a scale of 1 to 10, that would be 9 and 10; on a scale of 1 to 5, that would be 4 and 5. Smiley faces? You’re looking for 😊 and 😁. Essentially, “satisfied” and “very satisfied.”

Next, punch those numbers into this formula:

  • (Total number Top 2 responses) / (Total responses) * 100 = % of satisfied customers

So, if you had 2,000 responses and 800 satisfied and very satisfied customers, your CSAT score would be:

  • 800 / 2,000 * 100 = 40%

See how your business stacks up: Voice of the Customer Benchmarks: Rank Your Company Here

Who Should Use It (And When?)

Like NPS, B2B businesses can use CSAT to investigate customer satisfaction at a general level or drill down into particular moments of your customer journey.

But one of the major benefits of CSAT is that it can be used when you need to close the loop with customers.

For example:

  • Let’s say your customer buys a product.

  • After they receive confirmation of their purchase, they’re sent a short CSAT survey asking “How satisfied were you with the ordering process?”

  • At this point, they have the chance to rate your checkout experience against the scale you’ve selected, before adding any additional information they might wish to share.

  • Whether the feedback is positive or negative, you can quickly respond to the survey, handling any complaints promptly to improve customer retention.

3. Customer Effort Score (CES)

CES measures how effortless (or effort-full) it is to interact with your company. Is it easy? Or does it take a lot of time and effort?

To measure this, customers are asked a simple question, like:

How easy was it for you to solve your problem today?

Or, they can be asked to agree or disagree with a statement, like:

It was easy for me to solve my problem today.

Then, there are different scales they can use to address this statement:

  • The Likert scale. This gives your customer the option to choose from strongly disagree (score 1) to strongly agree (score 7).

  • The numbered scale. Similar to the CSAT scale above, this can be from 1 to 5 or 1 to 10. The higher the number, the more seamless and enjoyable their experience.

The smiley scale. Instead of numbers, your customers can select a smiley face that best matches their experience (😡😞😐😊😁).

Once you have your responses, you can calculate your Customer Effort Score by following this formula:

  • (Total sum of responses) / (Number of responses) = your CES score

For example, let’s say you’re using the Likert scale and you’ve asked your customer to agree/disagree with the statement: It was easy for me to solve my problem today.

You get 50 responses and the total sum of the responses adds up to 210, that is, you have…

  • 5 who strongly disagree (5 x 1)

  • 5 who disagree (5 x 2)

  • 10 who somewhat disagree (10 x 3)

  • 5 who are undecided (5 x 4)

  • 10 who somewhat agree (10 x 5)

  • 10 who agree (10 x 6),5 who strongly agree (5 x 7)

  • = 5 + 10 + 30 + 20 + 50 + 60 + 35 = 210

This means your CES would be:

  • 210 / 50 = 4.2

Who Should Use It (And When?)

Any B2B business wishing to understand their customers’ purchase behavior should consider using CES.

According to this study, it’s the strongest predictor of positive future behavior. 94% of customers who reported low effort said they’d repurchase, while 88% said they would increase their spending.

It’s also specific and actionable, giving you a zoomed-in view of particular business areas. For example, how easy it is for your customers to interact with customer service, file support tickets, or navigate your checkout process.

The downside is that it won’t provide any information about a customer’s satisfaction with or loyalty to your business. You’ll need CSAT or NPS to get to the bottom of that.

Other B2B VoC Metrics Worth Watching

NPS, CSAT, and CES aren’t the only metrics you need to monitor.

There are several other VoC methodologies that B2B companies need to be aware of, including:

  • Survey response rate. Response rate needs to be included among your key metrics. We’ve found that a healthy response rate correlates with higher NPS scores and higher retention.

  • Number of customer logins. If you’re a SaaS brand, you must keep a close eye on product usage. If you notice that this is low on a specific account, it could point to a potential churn risk.

  • Account signals. Not all customers will fill out surveys straight away. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything from them in the meantime. They’ll show several other signals like customer support interactions, purchases, and meeting attendance. How much (or how little) engagement is happening with these could tell you a lot about customer sentiment.

  • A lack of account signals. You should also look closely for what we call the absence of signal. In other words, the account as a whole has gone quiet. They don't respond to surveys, they don't put in support tickets, and you just don't hear from them. This indifference can be telling.

Read more: 8 Voice of Customer Methodologies for B2B Companies

In Summary: Which VoC Metric Should You Use?

In our 2021 B2B NPS® & CX Benchmarks Report, we surveyed 776 B2B companies across the globe. 41% picked NPS as the most trusted metric, while 26% opted for CSAT, and just 11% chose CES.

In our eyes, NPS is the gold standard when it comes to B2B experience metrics, but customer experience cannot be determined by a single metric alone. Linking several together can provide a more holistic view of your business.

That said, whichever combination of VoC metrics you decide to use, one of them needs to be NPS.

While CSAT and CES can shed light on certain situations, NPS is the only metric equipped to link your CX program to your bottom line. Doing so can help you prove ROI and make smarter decisions based on revenue.

And there’s no time to lose. 70% of companies aren’t linking their CX to their revenue data. By monetizing your NPS, you’ll get a leg up on the competition.

CustomerGauge for Voice of the Customer

CustomerGauge can deliver accessible, actionable customer experience insights for your business through our voice of customer offerings.

Using our real-time dashboards, alerts, and customer journey maps, your company can close the loop with your customer base and identify areas for improvement.

Click here to get started.

About the Author

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Sabrina Tessitore
Sabrina is Content Marketing Manager and qualified B2B AX-pert at CustomerGauge. She provides the strategies necessary for B2B companies to build ROI-generating NPS programs. In Sabrina's free time, you can find her seeking out new coffee shops or spending time with her Shih-Poo, Ruby.
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