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The age of excuses is over – How a new way of measuring creates business value by finding the link between employee experience and customer

The HappySignals measurement tool focuses on “total efficiency” of a service

Everyone in business knows the old saying “What you measure is what you get.” While this principle still holds true, measuring the right thing is only the first step. Yes, you should make sure you are measuring the relevant metrics but you should also be courageous enough to let the results shape the changes you implement in your organization. In many organizations it is all too common to measure for the sake of measuring and then explain away the results without them having any effect on the business itself.

This is what we are now setting out to change.

First step: From selfish SLA’s to true customer experience

When an organization measures the performance of a service, it can be tempting to set “selfish” service level agreements (SLA’s). For example, IT service desks are often evaluated on the amount of tickets they solve and the time it takes to solve them. These criteria are selfish in the sense that they focus only on the service provider’s efficiency – not the end-user’s. This leads to situations where the service desk is interested in getting rid of a customer as quickly as possible, irrespective of the customer experience.

We are not saying the efficiency of a service is not a good measurement criterion. Of course it is – but only if deployed in an unselfish way. IT service management organizations too often arrange their entire operation to focus on cost-savings while forgetting the end-user’s experience. This is quite ironic, because the business side in most companies specifically values user experience as a key success factor these days. How can the business side thrive if the aims of the support service side are not aligned with its goals?

What we did in the example above was to use our HappySignals feedback tool to flip the concept of efficiency on its head: instead of measuring efficiency on the service provider’s part, we now measure it also on the customer’s part. By listening to user feedback, we found out that many customers estimate they lose up to six hours (!) of efficient work time every time they have to contact an IT service desk about a problem. It is their efficiency and their experience the service desk should focus on. Now we encourage our clients to measure total efficiency: the customer’s efficiency together with the traditional organizational efficiency.

Next step: No excuses, but action!

This kind of alternative thinking about measuring is not limited to IT service desks. The same principles can be used for HR services, the finance department, or other functions of an organization.

No matter what is being measured, the true value of measuring lies in taking action based on the results. In the past, the methods of measuring have been too haphazard for our liking, and this has led to the results being unreliable and easily dismissed. For example, if you measure an IT service desk’s user satisfaction by conducting an annual survey, the results only show how the users feel about the service on that one day when they answer the survey (if they bother to answer it at all!). This type of measuring does not provide the C-suite with quality data on which to base strategic business decisions.

We developed the HappySignals tool to provide informative and comparable data about customer experience. By combining standard NPS and CES metrics and setting structured and harmonized questions, we are now able to gather customer feedback not arbitrarily but continuously. This means that results at specific time points can be compared with each other and the changes made based on the insights can be evaluated on their efficiency.

When the measured data is relevant and the feedback is real-time, it becomes more difficult to sweep uncomfortable truths under the rug or to make up excuses for poor results. And on the positive side, it becomes easier to perceive the true value of a service and to focus resources or direct investments where they bring the most value.

Radical step: From employee experience to customer experience to profit

A small detail that has proved to be truly revolutionary about using the HappySignals way of measuring is that because the feedback is being gathered continuously, it can also be communicated to service agents continuously. In the past only the most negative feedback got through to the agent who had dealt with an unsatisfied customer, while obscuring the fact that the majority of feedback was actually positive. It was just that the regularly satisfied customers’ feedback did not reach the individual agent. Now that HappySignals brings out the “normal good” feedback and makes it visible to the service agent, it enables her to better understand her customers and greatly increases motivation.

And this is where we come to a truly radical realization: smart measurement and feedback can be used to prove the link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. We work with major clients in Finland who use HappySignals to measure both employee experience and customer experience and they are already seeing a correlation between these two sets. As this new way and mentality of measuring highlights the importance of a customer’s satisfaction even more clearly to the employees, they start caring even more about providing customer satisfaction. Because the customer relationship becomes more transparent and the previously “silent” positive feedback gets through more often, the employees begin feeling more motivated and more committed to the organization’s common cause.

We are truly entering an Era of Experience. It takes a change of mentality and a lot of courage to start measuring in this new way, but the results are already highly positive. This way of measuring aids change management because now customer experience can be truly integrated to decision-making. And as this new type of thinking about feedback penetrates the entire organization from the service desk to the C-suite, we will start seeing new business value created.

About the authors

Sami Kallio is the CEO and co-founder of HappySignals. The main goal of his work is to help organizations focus on their end-user experience. Before starting HappySignals, Sami worked as CEO at service design company Palmu.exe and before that he was responsible for the service design unit at Tieto.

Joakim Kockberg works as Service Manager at Sofigate. His aim is to help his clients to modernize and utilize service management and its related frameworks and possibilities in various company functions. Joakim has professional experience from roles at customer, service provider, and now at consultancy side. Joakim also serves as Chairman of itSMF Finland.