From Volume to Value: Switching Customer Communication KPIs

Andrew Stevens | Monday, Oct 10th 2022
man reviewing communications performance metrics

When I talk to our CXM customers, one of the most prevalent issues they face is persuading their colleagues to invest in communications transformation.

Every business head has more problems than they can usually handle at any given time, and “changing the documents” rarely hits the top of the to-do list. The old adage of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” gets trotted out as a reason to do nothing, yet again.

This is compounded by department siloes, especially in large organizations. Communications affect the whole company, but each department often only owns one element. Operations might own the cost of postage, but the line of business leader controls the content and any revenue generated, while IT handles channel availability, which may not be the same for each department.

With such complexity, the easiest metric for success often falls to the lowest common denominator – the volume delivered. “More comms delivered = good” is the mantra of many organizations, and if you’re an advanced company, you may split the volume by channel to look at the digital vs. print delivery rates. It’s this mentality that creates apathy for change, because the effectiveness of your communications is entirely obscured. With a volume-based KPI, teams do not have the ability to tell whether a communication is enhancing or diminishing customer value – it’s just assumed that all communications are doing their part. 

Transforming your communications to meet modern customer expectations requires a shift in thinking. This shift must be one in which the value delivered to the customer is the core KPI, and volume is secondary. Defining value can be difficult, but the three-step approach outlined below can help get you on the right track. 

1. Defining the need: what purpose does this communication have?

There are only three reasons for delivering any communication:

  1. National or industry regulations demand that it is delivered.
  2. The customer has specifically asked for this information.
  3. You have information that you genuinely believe will be of value to the customer and will enhance your ongoing relationship with them.

Put simply, if your communication doesn’t fit into one of these three categories, serious consideration should be given to putting the template into the “demise” pile. It may have been created by a well-meaning product owner and it might have had value at the time, but it’s not adding value now.

2. Defining the value: how well is the communication serving its purpose?

Assuming that the communication you're assessing has a well-defined purpose, the next question to ask is whether it's carrying out its purpose as best as possible—adding maximum value to the customer experience. 

Ask if your communication is:

  1. Available at the time your customer needs it, and on their preferred channel?
  2. Consistent in presentation and messaging across all available channels? 
  3. Personalized based on customers' interests, preferences, and history with your business? Localized for different regions, languages, and demographics? 
  4. Delivered with context? Does the customer get this communication even though they’ve already moved past this point via a different channel? Is there a risk of the customer being bombarded with too many communications at any one time?
  5. Masking issues in other areas? Many communications exist to cover gaps or delays in other parts of the customer journeys. Could you solve the problem by upgrading your back-office processes instead of delivering a holding communication?

3. Defining the cost: what’s the cost of this communication failing?

If your communication isn’t delivering maximum benefit, then its failings are likely to be generating hidden costs. Remember, if the customer values their relationship with you, but doesn’t understand what you’re trying to tell them, they won’t ignore your message. Instead, they'll call you, email you, or pop into a branch or store and ask someone for help. You’re going to need to pay someone to answer those questions.

So, take a look at the number of queries that originate from a communication. The complaints team is often a good place to start, but don’t assume that every customer wants to have their problem formally recognized and handled. 60-80% of all touchpoints have a customer communication involved, so go to each of the channels and get as much data as you can on how many service reps. spent time answering comms-based questions, and how long the average handling time was. Similarly, investigate any data that shows drop-out rates, especially where the customer drops out at the point that a communication has been delivered.

All of this information can be translated into a monetary cost, whether it be the cost to your contact centers, the cost to your revenue from onboarding drop-offs, or the cost to your retention rates from account closures of dissatisfied customers. The cost of doing nothing can often be higher than you think.

Create the business case

Applying this three-step approach allows you to quickly:

  1. Ensure that you are only delivering the communications that are required,
  2. Define the current and potential value of your communications, letting you prioritize transformation in the areas that will have the most impact, and
  3. Deliver a clear business case that highlights the real costs of doing nothing.

Once you’ve answered these questions, ask whether the problems stem from a lack of focus on the experience or if they’re simply technology constraints. Historically, it was normal for experiences to be defined by the technology available, but customers expect so much more today. If you’re held back by technology, take a look at our Inspire solutions and get in touch with us - we’ll make sure you’re able to deliver a first-class customer experience across the entire business. 

    By switching to a value-based performance measurement model, the business case writes itself, and it becomes much more difficult for business heads to leave their communications transformation projects until next year.Image removed.