Can You Measure Customer Happiness?

If you work in a contact centre environment, you’re probably familiar with a range of customer experience-related metrics, each with a fancier name than the last.

These customer experience metrics measure a variety of different elements that contribute to the customer’s overall experience.

But while they may all come from slightly different perspectives or viewpoints, each is ultimately trying to answer the same key question: “Was the customer happy with their interaction with our business?”

In other words, each is trying to measure “customer happiness”.


An Overarching Goal

In this, the ‘Age of the Customer’, customers are more demanding than ever and will vote with their feet if they don’t receive the service they expect. Therefore, having happy and satisfied customers should be the overarching goal in any contact centre or customer facing operation.

There are a variety of approaches to measuring this, however it’s impossible to get a complete picture of your customer happiness, and everything that influences it, from one metric alone.

In this article, I introduce and evaluate a range of customer happiness metrics to help you determine which metrics your organisation should be measuring, and how.

Metric 1 – Quality Scores

Quality scores are determined by a team leader, trainer, quality coach or other senior person who rates a customer interaction against a set criteria to assess how well each interaction met those criteria.

Whether or not your quality score will be a measure of customer happiness depends on what criteria your quality scores are measured against. If your quality score is compliance-focused (e.g. if it’s based on compliance to scripting, regulations or legislative elements), then it may not be a good measure of customer happiness. If, on the other hand, the criteria are customer service-related (e.g. based on getting the right outcome for the customer), then it can be a good metric for helping to impact your customer happiness.

Of course, quality scores aren’t a foolproof measure. They can be subject to bias from the person scoring the calls, and there is no customer input into the process. However, they can provide useful insight into potential improvements to training or processes that may be required to empower and enable improved customer interactions.

Getting the Most from Quality Scores

To enjoy the best success when using quality score as a measure of customer happiness, you should:

  • Apply more weighting to customer service-related criteria in your overall quality scorecard
  • Calibrate results across your marking team to ensure fairness and consistency
  • Increase accountability and ownership by comparing agent self-assessments with marking team results
  • Limit the number of criteria you mark so that your agents can more easily target them, thereby increasing your opportunity for success
  • Avoid setting ‘compliance’ style customer service criteria such as ‘say the customers name 3 times’, or requiring ‘is there anything else I can help you with today’ to be said at the end of every call. These items often sound robotic and can decrease rather than improve customer experience.

Metric 2 – Net Promoter Score

Your Net Promoter Score (NPS) is based on your customers’ response to the question of how likely they are to recommend your company to a friend or colleague.

This measure is taken after an interaction, with customers able to choose a rating from 0 to 10. Those who rate you 0-6 are “detractors” (people likely to criticise your company), 7-8 are “passives” (people who probably won’t even mention you), while 9-10 are “promoters” (people who promote you for years to come). Presumably, those who rate you higher have higher customer happiness.

Your NPS is the percentage of your promoters, less the percentage of your detractors. However, the figure is displayed as a positive or negative number, not a percentage.

NPS surveys are usually easy to complete, and can provide great benchmarking of your brand vs other brands. However, when used as a standalone measure, your net promotor score doesn’t provide any insight into areas for improvement. It can also be an emotionally driven response, and with any customer-driven measure, the experience a customer has received may influence how likely they are to provide a response to the survey potentially impacting the validity of the result.

Getting the Most from Net Promoter Scores

To ensure your NPS provides a good indication of your customer happiness level, you should:

  • Ask for further insight by also collecting comments and suggestions from your customers
  • Respond to your detractors to discover how you can help them become promotors (you should also express your appreciation to your passives and promotors)
  • Educate your entire organisation on how their actions can affect your organisation’s NPS
  • Consider measuring NPS at a company level, not just in your contact centre
  • Send survey’s in real time where possible, to ensure an accurate and relevant response

Metric 3 – Customer Satisfaction

A classic measure of customer happiness, customer satisfaction is determined by the results of regular surveys that ask your customers questions about their satisfaction with your products, services, support, and customer service.

Customer satisfaction survey responses are usually provided on numbered point scales, or scales that use descriptors such as “dissatisfied”, “very satisfied”. A numerical value is applied to each response, and this is used to calculate the percentage of satisfied respondents.

Customer satisfaction is a useful customer happiness metric because it can measure satisfaction across a number of key areas. This then allows you to identify specific areas for improvement. However, because it’s a longer survey, it can be difficult to get good response rate from your customers. While the periodic nature of these surveys can mean that you avoid survey fatigue, the downside is that customers may have difficulty recalling their interactions with you in order to provide accurate responses if the survey is too long after the interaction occurred.

Getting the Most from Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction provides greater insight than many other measures of customer happiness.

To ensure your customer satisfaction provides the best possible indication of your customer happiness level, you should:

  • Keep it relevant by sending individually targeted questions rather than general ones
  • Keep it short and snappy so that customers actually complete the survey (it should take no more than 2-3 minutes)
  • Make it easy so that they can click and complete, rather than having to enter a username and password

Metric 4 – Customer Effort Score

It’s generally agreed that the easier you are to do business with, the more likely your customers are to return – which is why your customer effort score is an important metric to measure to get a full picture of your customer happiness.

Your customer effort score can be measured by asking customers to agree or disagree with the statement “X organisation made it easy for me to handle my issue”, or by asking them to give a score along a 0-7 scale in response to the question “How much effort did you have to put in to resolve your issue/enquiry?”, where 1-3 are “easy”, and 6-7 are “hard”.

Because they’re based on a simple one-off response, customer effort scores are easy to obtain and can provide insight into the effectiveness of different channels (for example, if clients who use the website rate this as more difficult than the chat service). Importantly, research has indicated that your customer effort score is the most accurate indication of customer loyalty and whether or not you’re meeting customer expectations. However, like your Net Promoter Score, your customer effort score’s usefulness is hindered by the fact that it doesn’t provide any additional insight or information beyond a single response to a simple question.

Getting the Most from Customer Effort Scores

Customer effort scores are a great metric for measuring customer happiness. To get the most from your customer effort score, you should:

  • Measure customer effort on an interaction-by-interaction basis rather than an overall metric, so you can link it to reasons for the enquiry, channels used, etc.
  • Respond to customers who report interactions as difficult and ask them for further feedback (you may want to offer a reward in return for their time)

Metric 5 – Employee Engagement

I know what you’re about to say: “Employee engagement isn’t a measure of customer happiness!”

But I beg to differ.

As Richard Branson – a well recognised authority on customer experience – once said, “Customer do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers”.

As your frontline staff are often the only human touch points your business will have with your customers, you should definitely consider your employee engagement or employee satisfaction results as an indicative factor of your customer happiness.

Employee engagement is typically measured by surveys that are designed much like a customer satisfaction survey, with questions focusing on aspects such as company culture, job satisfaction, etc. These surveys may be run annually or half-yearly, usually for the entire company. Some organisations are embracing Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) as a key metric to indicate the satisfaction of their employees.

Depending on the granularity and frequency of your company-wide surveys, it’s often worth conducting a contact centre-specific survey on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, as your contact centre staff are the employees your customers come into contact with the most.

Measuring employee engagement helps you to understand the different factors that drive staff satisfaction and dissatisfaction and target areas for improvement, thereby improving staff engagement and customer happiness. However, you must respond to the feedback you receive. If you don’t, it won’t be long before employees become disillusioned with the process, and disengaged in their roles.

Making the Most of Employee Engagement

To really leverage your employee engagement metrics, you should:

  • Run surveys regularly encouraging suggestions and feedback
  • Ensure your surveys are short and sweet to increase responsiveness
  • Create targets based on survey feedback for your leadership teams to deliver small, incremental improvements each month, and engage team members in delivering these improvements
  • Openly publish survey results to encourage discussion and participation from the whole team for implementing improvement initiatives
  • Track employee engagement against other customer happiness metrics to see the linkage over time (this can be useful for encouraging support for further improvement initiatives)

Choosing the Right Customer Happiness Metrics

Now that we’ve discussed five customer happiness metrics, the question that’s no doubt on your mind is: “Which ones should I use?”

In my experience, each of the metrics discussed above are valuable, especially when they’re measured collectively. In nearly every case, greater insights come from analysing a cross section of data from all sources.

To measure and track these metrics effectively, you may need to invest in technology that makes this simple and automated.

It’s also imperative that you use the data you collect to implement measurable improvement initiatives. If you’re not going to action the feedback you receive, it’s better not to ask for it.

In everything, remember: your customers must be the focus of all you do.

Review Your Metrics

So there you have it – five metrics that can help you to measure customer happiness.

Do you have another one you believe should be added to the list? Then let me know in the comments below!


NB:  Net Promoter Score, Net Promoter and NPS are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Satmetrix Systems and Fred Reichheld.