In the effort to shore up key performance indicators (KPIs) as they relate to customer experience and the customer journey, too many organizations overlook the most important thing: the customer.

Rather than considering various KPIs through the lens of the customer—with their experience as the starting point—organizations tend to work outward from the bottom line. Yet, how you define business outcomes and KPIs says a lot about just how “outside in” your organization really is. 

Failing to empathize with your customers can end up being counterproductive, especially for the managers and directors charged with keeping tabs on customer journey KPIs within the contact center.

Connecting with Customers from Start to Finish

Learn why supporting today’s customer self-service journey requires next-gen knowledge management.

Examining the journey through the customer’s eyes 

Attending to the health and wellbeing of the customer experience has become more difficult along what has become a diverse journey with lots of options for service and support. When needs arise, customers today have more options than ever before.

During the consideration phase, for example, a prospective customer might engage with post-purchase support content to help make a purchase decision. When a customer needs support during the ownership phase, another common touchpoint along the journey, they might try to handle issues on their own by searching Google for the answer.

How are support and service organizations supposed to be everywhere at once?

The different touchpoints along today's expanding cusotmer journey.
Common touchpoints along the new customer journey

The new list of customer demands

Today, customers have Google, chatbots, voice assistants, and even phone support, all within arm’s reach. This expansive and increasingly non-linear journey has created a new list of expectations:

  • Be there in the channel I choose, whenever and wherever I choose it
  • Be there in the country and language I prefer
  • Optimize all of your content for my mobile device
  • Make your authoritative content available at the top of Google search results
  • Don’t make me wait—not for a page to load, call transfer, or account look-up
  • Don’t make me call you unless I absolutely have to
  • Anticipate my needs based on the information you (should) already have about me

10 essential customer journey KPIs

In light of these new expectations, ask yourself: are you making it easy for customers to be successful? Or are those customers encountering hurdles and friction that impede their ability to be successful?

Here are some of the most reliable indicators that can provide valuable insights into how your service and support organization can improve the customer journey overall:

1. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

That it costs more to acquire new customers than to keep existing ones is widely accepted as gospel. But a look at your CLV can reveal opportunities along the customer journey to create more value for your existing customers in convenient and intuitive ways. 

Our favorite example is the global home appliances manufacturer that created 17,000 leads by adding buttons linking to accessory and part purchase pages to their self-service portal. It’s a great case study of a company approaching one of their core organizational objectives (drive CLV) by first considering how they might enrich the customer experience.

2. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Few performance indicators are more brutally revealing than whether or not your customers would recommend your products, services, and support experiences to others. This is precisely what NPS** will reveal.

Dig deeper, though: what part of your customer support experience is creating any neutral or negative NPS scores? 

If you were a customer, what kind of experience would motivate you to turn to your neighbor and say, No, I wouldn’t use this company if I were you? The answer can provide clues into their touchpoints along the journey at which your customers are consistently hitting snags, growing frustrated, or jumping ship altogether.

What is Net Promoter Score (NPS) and how is it calculated? A handy diagram powered by MindTouch
What is NPS and how is it calculated?

3. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

A good or bad support experience can make or break a particular customer journey. CSAT surveys help measure customer contentedness before, during, and after those interactions. 

If you’re noticing an uptick in poor CSAT scores, take a closer look at these responses to see what customers are telling you. What’s the context around those scores? What types of cases generated them? Who are the agents? 

Do your sub-par CSAT scores indicate an underlying issue along the customer journey, one you might be able to address to product or process improvements?

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT), powered by MindTouch

4. Customer Effort Score (CES)

The best companies to patronize are those that make it easy to be a customer. Companies that can anticipate customer needs and potential obstacles tend to have tremendously loyal customer bases. CES surveys are a great way to gauge effort level at key points in journey. 

According to research from Gartner, CES is “25% more predictive of customer loyalty than the next best metric.” Why? Because so much of any customer journey is guided by effort. How much perceived effort is required of your customers to do the things they want to do with your product or service, such as registering and activating, rolling out an update, or contacting customer support?

How to measure Customer Effort Score (CES), including statistics that support low-effort experiences (powered by MindTouch)
Customer Effort Score (CES) explained, including statistics supporting low-effort experiences

5. Case (or “ticket”) volume

Are your highest-volume cases clustered around low-touch, repeat issues that might otherwise be handled by self-service? Or are you finding that most of your tickets are clustered around more complex issues that require some form of agent assistance? What are your top ten or twenty cases over the past quarter or fiscal year?

Your top case-generating issues can tell you a lot about existing friction points along the customer journey.

Taken as a KPI, your case volume might tell you how easy it is for customers to handle simple problems on their own, reveal snags in your customer journey, and identify where and how a self-service touchpoint or product improvement could make these cases unnecessary. You can even break this analysis down by channel (phone, email, chat).

6. Agent authoring contributions

Though less straightforward than metrics like CSAT or NPS, the rate at which your agents contribute knowledge content to your self-service repository can be an interesting customer journey indicator. After all, your support agents are in many ways your front line, interacting with customers on a daily basis. 

If those agents are empowered to contribute solutions to your knowledge repository based on the customer service or support cases they resolve, they can help improve the journey for both agents and the customers.  Which agents are contributing the most content? And what agent-contributed content is used most to solve similar cases? Learn more about Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS)

7. Uptime, page speed, and mobile optimization

People expect to find answers and solve issues anywhere and any time of day. And they expect to be able to do so quickly, on any device they choose. What are they supposed to do if your support sites are unavailable, poorly optimized for mobile, or they don’t load fast at all? 

Do your customers stop seeking self-service support just because it’s after hours, the weekend, or a disaster has struck? 

These are the times your customers need you most. And it’s what makes uptime, page speed, and your site’s mobile score such important customer journey KPIs. Learn how uptime impacts your customer experience.

8. Organic keyword traffic to your support site

The self-service content that your customers find (or try to find) organically, through search engines—including the devices and keyphrases they use to find it—represents a rich data set. The data that results when your customers “Google it”—such as organic keyword traffic—can provide some profound insights into your customers’ content needs at this important stage in the journey.

For example, which articles are driving the most traffic from search? What keyword phrases are bringing the most users to your site? And what are your top ten or twenty service and support articles in terms of organic search traffic? Read the case for allowing Google to index your self-service support content.

9. Engagement with calls to action (CTAs)

More and more organizations are finding ways to create value for customers through strategically placed CTAs. In post-sale support content, this could be related articles (what to read next), or parts and accessory purchase based on the article a customer is viewing (recall the global appliance manufacturer mentioned earlier).

How often, when, and where your customers engage with the CTAs can all be tracked as part of your website analytics monitoring. They’re also indicators of where you’re adding value to the customer journey and where CTAs could be added, updated, or removed altogether.

10. Abandon rate and bounce rate

People usually abandon your cart, call queue, or website for two reasons: they somehow find what they need, or they hit a wall and bail on the process all together. On the website or contact center side of things, exceptionally high abandon rates might indicate that people can’t get through to the contact center, that call routing is inadequate or confusing, or your website’s user flow is too high-effort. 

Similarly, it’s important to measure how people interact with your support content, too. High bounce rates for specific pieces of support content can indicate that customers aren’t getting what they need. Are people leaving your site after viewing just a single page? How many pages do users engage with each session? And what are people doing after they view a piece of content?

In either scenario, you might find that people are bailing at the same point, or on the same page. These might be opportunities to update the existing content or, in the case of your support queue or cart, embed contextual help that serves them relevant content right then and there for immediate self-service.

A framework for making life easier across the customer journey

As nice as it would be to be everywhere at once, that’s becoming increasingly difficult given the expansion of the customer journey. While these KPIs are great ways to take the pulse of your CX, there’s also an opportunity to take a step back and look at the larger picture: your journey as a whole.

What can organizations do to consistently deliver excellence across touchpoints?

Gartner provides some guidance in a recent report entitled “Delivering Relevant Content and Knowledge to Customers is Key to Great Customer Service”***:

* Gartner, Connecting Process to Customer: Take the Customer Journey, Bruce Roberson, 3 May 2017
** Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.
*** Gartner, Delivering Relevant Content and Knowledge to Customers Is Key to Great Customer Service, Drew Kraus, Olive Huang, Gene Phifer, Jim Davies, Mick MacComascaigh, Brian Manusama, Irina Guseva, 5 December 2019
**** Ibid.