Customer centricity can be defined many ways, but for today’s IT, it’s no longer about just the quality of the product or service being provided. It’s the total experience, says Pratibha Salwan, co-leader of consumer services at technology research and advisory firm ISG.
Customer centricity is how you make customers feel at every touch point in their journey with your brand, from initial consideration, through purchase, and after the product or service is delivered, Salwan explains. “Any form of technology that helps deliver world-class customer experiences is at the heart of customer-centric IT.”
Customer-centric IT organizations cultivate superior customer experiences by providing a highly personalized, feature-rich, intelligent, and resilient product or service offering, says Neerav Vyas, customer first practice leader for insights and data at business advisory firm Capgemini Americas.
Customers are typically individuals and organizations that purchase or lease a product or service, but may also include internal users, spread across departments, that consume various IT technology services. “Customer-centric IT organizations are pivoting from the traditional mode of delivering IT to a product-centric mode to assure customer-centricity,” says Karmesh Vaswani, executive vice president and global head of consumer, retail, and logistics at IT consulting firm Infosys.
Is your organization doing everything it can to understand and meet its customers’ needs and desires? The following KPIs can help you find the answer.
1. Product/service adoption rate
No matter how wonderful a product or service seemed during its planning and development stages, it’s doomed to failure if customers who acquire it don’t use it. Product/service adoption rate reveals the number of customers who actually use a product or service to reach their goals.
Product adoption matters, because when users fully adopt a solution, they tend to stick around and acquire updates, upgrades, and companion offerings, Vyas says. “Daily, weekly, monthly ‘active user’ metrics can be very useful early indicators of your solution’s future impact.”
2. Time to value
Time to value shows how long it takes an organization to deliver a satisfactory outcome to its customers. “It’s the ability to deliver the right data to the customer service agent, the salesperson, or the customer, directly at the right moment with the right context and content,” says Craig Susen, CTO for management consulting firm Unify Consulting. “It’s all about driving toward efficiency and efficacy through a customer-centric lens.”
An acceptable time to value depends on the type of enterprise and how it’s run. An airline, for instance, will have different expectations than a fast food chain. “Each IT team needs to custom-fit what experiences are appropriate and fine-tune their technologies and data to drive a great experience,” Susen says.
3. Customer request resolution time
It’s always a good idea to monitor the average time it takes for a customer’s request to be resolved. “While customer-centric IT is a newer area, it’s easy to draw parallels to its predecessor: contact centers,” says Lou Bachenheimer, CTO of the Americas with robotic process automation company SS&C Blue Prism. “Both functions essentially provide a form of self-service, with customer-centric IT simply streamlining the process.”
Traditional IT focused on systems that enables organizations to serve customers better. “With customer-centric IT, that shifts to systems that engage with customers directly,” Bachenheimer says. “As more and more end users interact with websites, chatbots, or other automations, the need for strong customer-centric IT is greater than ever before.”
4. Customer effort score
Customer effort score (CES) indicates the energy customers expend interacting with an organization and its systems to resolve an issue, fulfill a request, or purchase or return a product. Customer effort is a basic loyalty indicator. This measurement is relatively fast and easy to evaluate. It’s also simple to implement across various service and survey channels. CES correlates directly with business outcomes and is easy to track over various time periods.
Customer effort scoring is critically necessary to determine whether you’re building systems with customer centricity in mind, says Jess Warrington, general manager, North America, for CloudBlue, a global products and services distribution marketplace. “Businesses expect to interact with other businesses as consumers do,” he states. “This requires user experiences and low-touch outcomes that are delivered quickly.”
CES opens a window into your customers, and how they view you, Warrington says. “It’s critical to understand your customers’ business end-to-end so that you gain a holistic view of all of the elements that you impact.”
5. Customer satisfaction score
Customer satisfaction score is a basic indicator of overall customer service and product or service quality. Customer feedback also shows how well enterprise technologies are meeting the organization’s goal of giving customers a quality experience. “They are a key ingredient in our ability to live our purpose as teammates,” says Ken Meyer, CIO and experience officer for consumer technology at commercial banking firm Truist.
Meyer notes that feedback is the most valuable customer research an organization can conduct. “Understanding what clients want or need, how and when they prefer to interact, which channels they need to access — this is critical to our success and their happiness,” he explains. “We always want to start with care, and that means listening with intention so we can learn and continually improve.”
As customers’ needs evolve, so must the enterprise. “We know we’ve gotten it right when our clients tell us through their actions and words,” Meyer says.
6. Customer retention rate
Customer retention is a key litmus test for determining how well an enterprise and its systems are engaging customers. “Repeat business demonstrates that your brand is connecting with customers in a frictionless way,” says Jason Silberkleit, senior vice president of technology at XPO Logistics. “Technology is rapidly evolving to the point where customers have come to expect omnichannel support delivered through a robust technology strategy.”
As systems evolve, customers are becoming increasingly touchless in their interactions. Everything is digital, and companies need to have a customer-centric strategy that supports these expectations, “even if your industry hasn’t historically been tech-enabled,” Silberkleit observes.
7. Likely to recommend rate
The likelihood to recommend rate shows the percentage of customers who are inclined to recommend a product or service to someone else. “It seeks feedback from humans on how optimal their experience was,” says Tom Greiner, senior managing director and technology lead, at IT service management company Accenture Federal Services. “As an IT leader, you’re either committed to seeking to understand the user experience in a real way and designing to optimize it, or you are deploying ‘best-guess IT’ and hoping things works out okay.”
Customer-centric IT systems should be built with human-centered design principles, looking first at the existing user experience and then re-imagining how technology can best be harnessed at each stage of an interaction to produce an optimal user experience, Greiner says.
The most insightful KPIs are those an IT leader can quantifiably measure and act on. There’s no one size fits all approach.
“Which KPIs are most relevant will depend on your business,” says Lisa Woodley, vice president and general manager at software development consulting firm Nexient. “For IT, finding those KPIs requires understanding the key moments in the customer journey, prioritizing those moments by overall business value, and identifying where technology is having an impact.”
For more on customer-centric IT and new-era KPIs, see: