Recipe for Success – The Alphabet Soup of Customer Experience Acronyms

Like chemistry, great customer experience measurement combines the right mixture of items in the right proportions to produce a transformative experience your customers will surely notice.

There is a veritable cornucopia of acronyms, measures, metrics, and objectives in the customer experience (CX) space that, if mixed the right way, can provide the exceptional customer journey that is expected. From CX measures, operational measures, and outcome measures, they are often commingled, making the environment very confusing and often contradictory.

I am offering up a blog series on the definition of these terms, the benefits and risks of each, and recommendations on which measures to use for your desired outcomes.

Let’s start with a review the classifications of the metrics, as well as common items in each classification in this first of the series.

Customer Experience Measures

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

  • Measured on a 0-10 scale asking customers how likely it is that they would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague.

    • Promoters(score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth
    • Passives(score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who may vulnerable to competitive offerings depending upon your industry and competitive set
    • Detractors(score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth

  • Considered simple and easy to understand – one question and one score

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

  • Recently, the industry has moved beyond CSAT to measure loyalty, effort, and value
  • Still a very reliable measure of operational performance of your business

Customer Effort Score (CES)

  • A measure of ease of doing business with your company
  • I liken this resurgence to the “Amazon-effect”: That is, Amazon has reminded the general population that when they make it easy for you to spend your money, you are willing to spend more of it.

Value for the Money (VFM)

  • This sits on one of three legs of the stool – Value, Ease, and Satisfaction. If these three measures are all high, it is likely that your outcome measures – customer loyalty and advocacy will also be high
  • This is a key measure to understand the balance between your products, services, and price in the market

Operational Measures –


  • The percentage of time a contact center agent is available to assist customers, divided by the length of their shift.

Average Handle Time (AHT)

  • Any good center worth their salt measures this number, but remember it does not tell the entire story. Completing a phone call quickly does not always lead to satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.

First Call Resolution (FCR)

  • The ability to solve a customer’s issue on the first contact with your company.
  • The ying to the AHT’s yang. If FCR is high and AHT is low, your contact center likely is efficiently and effectively managing customer issues.

Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR)

  • The average time to solve a customer issue after being reported, either internally or by the customer directly.
  • The vast majority of cases, the lower this metric the better. It is usually best to resolve issues as soon as humanly possible.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

  • The contractual agreements that between you and your customers that often include operational measures like AHT, FCR, MTTR, etc.

Outcome Measures

  • Advocacy – The notion that the customer will be so satisfied and delighted with their experience that they will proactively tell other customers about your company and act as a free referral service.
  • Conquest – The act of taking customers from your direct competitors or those who would normally not purchase your products or services.
  • Customer Lifetime Value – a number, usually expressed in a currency, that considers the customers purchases past, current, and future, and attributes a value to those purchases, plus the value of any referrals or recommendations they might make on your company’s behalf.
  • Loyalty – Believe it or not, measuring loyalty is not as straightforward as many people believe.  There are very different types of loyalty – loyalty to a product, loyalty to a brand, loyalty to a specific retailer/branch/location, etc. Determining which loyalty metric, or metrics, are appropriate for your type of business is key.  As an example, inadvertently measuring brand loyalty while trying to improve sales of a specific product may yield counterproductive results.

Finding the right combination of measures for your business is like making a great meal – part design, part chemistry, and part artistry. Remember, driving customer loyalty is one thing, while driving customer advocacy is another, and operational efficiency is yet again very separate. While you may be able to use some of the same measures, the objectives that you set for these three areas will be vastly different.

CSAT, CES, and VFM often work very well together and they each measure a key piece of the customer journey – your performance (CSAT), the effort from the customer (CES) and the value you provide relative to other options the customer has (VFM).

AHT and FCR each tell a piece of a very important story.  If AHT is low and FCR is low, you likely have an upset customer who felt rushed through the process without an acceptable conclusion.  If AHT is low and FCR is high, you likely have a very efficient shop with well-trained and highly empowered employees.  Measuring these two in relation to each other is get to getting a more well-rounded story of your performance.

CSAT and NPS – remember that these two often measure very different things. One is a measure of how satisfied the customer was with their interaction, the other is a measure of their willingness to recommend you to a friend or colleague. NPS is a true relationship measurement, and should be applied as such.

So what will using these metrics mean for your contact center? Stay tuned for part 2 where I detail successes of using these measurements and how that can trickle down to your customer’s experience from your contact center.