The Power of Metrics: Knowing Beyond Subjectivity

“How do you know?” – a question I often ask as a consultant that carries immense value for business leaders. Quantifiable metrics are critical to continuous improvement, especially when it comes to understanding employee engagement levels or assessing customer loyalty.

Imagine being asked to grade the quality of experiences you deliver to your core customer segments. Since there is always room for improvement, let’s assume you give your business an A- or B+. That’s where the question “How do you know?” comes into play. What objective data justifies your grade?

Based on my experience, business owners make common mistakes when attempting to answer “how do you know” questions regarding customer experience excellence. These include:

  • Relying on subjective feelings and not gathering sufficient customer input,
  • Feeling powerless to collect data due to the lack of an optimal measure, or
  • Over-collecting data to the point that it becomes unmanageable.

Given these common pitfalls, here are a few tips to consider.

Identify Your Question: Start by crafting a “how do you know” question that is mission-critical for your business. This could be related to customer satisfaction, team productivity, product performance, or overall business growth. Once answered, you will be positioned for success.

Start Simple: Once you’ve identified your question, keep the desire for perfect data collection from obstructing progress. For example, you could ask customers to rate their experience via a one-item pulse survey to understand customer satisfaction during a high-value touchpoint.

Keep it on Your Radar: Ensure that data collection remains a priority. Make it a part of your daily, weekly, and monthly routines. If customer retention is your goal, you should regularly review customer churn data. Assign a team member to oversee a retention/churn dashboard and monitor it continually.

Analyze Your Results: Data collection is often the easiest part – synthesizing and interpreting data can be challenging. Look for trends, observe anomalies, and draw meaningful conclusions from your information. From the customer engagement data, for example, you should look for insights about how your people, processes, and technology meet or exceed customer expectations and which areas need improvement.

Act: Based on your analysis, it’s time to act. If your customers are unsatisfied with a particular aspect of your business, devise a remediation plan. Monitor progress and keep improving.

Iterate: This isn’t a “one and done” process. Brands that use information well, continually improve data collection, analytics, and innovation processes.

Expand: As you get more comfortable collecting and acting on data, you’ll ask more “how do you know” questions. The more you ask, the more you’ll know, and the more you’ll grow.

In the spirit of asking and answering questions, I have three questions for you:

  1. From an operational perspective, where must you excel in ensuring short and long-term business success?
  2. How are you doing regarding performance in those areas?
  3. Most importantly, “How do you know?”

To learn more about selecting and tracking key customer metrics, please contact me at

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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