This is Part 7 in a series that examines key Customer Experience (CX) metrics that every Voice of the Customer (VoC) program should measure to understand the visitors’ digital experience better. In this post, we look at a metric that provides a way to really know what your visitors will do next after their last interaction with your brand: Next Steps.
Every consumer is unique, each with their own sets of needs and expectations. With every interaction with your brand, consumers will have many different options for how they can go about taking the next step in their customer journey. Not to mention, these options will also often depend on how well – or how poorly – their last brand interaction went.
For a Customer Experience professional, it can be very valuable to be able to pinpoint what types of experiences lead to specific paths along the customer journey, especially costly ones. These insights can guide them to make more customer-centric decisions when trying to design positive experiences that will better lead consumers down more desirable paths.
Collecting the “Next Steps” metric as part of a CX program can help you do this.
In this post, I look at why you need to measure this CX metric, and also provide a use case that shows one example of where the value of measuring Next Steps can become apparent.
How to measure the ‘Next Steps’ CX metric
Unlike the other CX metrics examined as part of our series, the ‘Next Steps’ metric centers around a moment that has not yet happened. What someone will do following their most recent interaction with a brand will depend on many factors, based on their most recent brand interaction:
- Where they are in the customer journey
- How positive or negative their interaction was
- Whether they considered their last interaction a successful one
People may consider any number of ‘next steps’ based on these factors. As such, you should phrase the question in a way that allows you to at least determine what step they are most likely to take next. This will then allow you to crosstab this data with other CX metrics, so you can better determine the direct impact of your customers’ most recent experience on what they will do next.
Using a Single-Select question asking people to confirm their “most likely” next step will allow you to get inside the mind of your visitors in this regard, while also helping to simplify your analysis:
“Following today’s visit, what will most likely be your next step?”
The answer choices you include for this question will, of course, depend on your specific brand and industry. However, you should include any next steps you think your visitors may take in the context of your business, without exceeding 7-8 answers to avoid respondent fatigue. As well, make sure to include an “Other, please specify” option, which can help uncover other potential next steps you may not have thought about, and perhaps even provide ideas for ways to expand your research.
Why you should measure ‘Next Steps’
It’s difficult to know what people will do next without asking
Consumers nowadays have more options at their disposal than ever before. While there are ways to track how people are interacting with your brand while it is happening, it is difficult (if not often impossible) to know for sure what people will do next. This is especially true when considering the increasingly omni-channel climate, where consumers are jumping from touchpoint to touchpoint (either online or offline).
Asking your customers to confirm their next step helps you better pinpoint the resulting impact of their last interaction with your brand, and better understand the rationale of your customers for choosing this path.
It adds valuable context to your other CX metrics
Many CX metrics like Overall Satisfaction and Task Completion help us to understand the most recent brand interaction better. Next Steps helps us better understand the next chapter and adds important context to our other metrics.
For example, this metric also allows you to better understand, among many other things, the impact of a failed task completion, what experiences are most likely to lead people to your desired outcomes, and which groups are more susceptible to be driven to competitors’ websites as a result of their interactions with your brand.
Identify opportunities for mitigating costs
Measuring ‘Next Steps’ can help you identify what experiences are most likely to point to preferred flows across the customer journey. It can also uncover which ones are leading to less desirable ones, including the utilization of some of your costlier channels to address their need, such as your call center.
Let’s examine this in more detail in the following use case.
Use Case: Identifying reasons for call center contacts
A common use case we have helped our clients tackle is identifying the journeys, and the limitations within them, that are the most likely to drive customers to contact a call center representative, when there may be cheaper and less time-intensive options at their disposal (e.g., self-serve tools) to address their needs. The goal, ultimately, being to find ways to reduce the level of this ‘noise’ that reaches their call center and reduce unnecessary and preventable costs related to it.
Let’s take a fictional Telecommunications company. Companies in this sector, especially larger ones, typically offer a multitude of channels and options for their subscribers and prospects to answer their questions, from call centers and live chat, to more self-serve options like support forums, FAQs, and interactive tools.
This company launches a pre-post survey that includes the following questions:
Which of the following best describes the primary purpose of your visit today?
Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit today?
Following today’s visit, what will most likely be your next step?
If we were to crosstab the findings from these questions and focus on people’s likelihood to contact the call center as a result of their visit, this can open the door to many interesting findings. Consider the example below:
Based on what someone is looking to do on the website, their level of success will impact their likelihood to want to speak to a representative. However, looking closely at the data, there may be some interesting insights that could spur some questions. For example, how come those coming to manage their accounts were generally successful in doing what they wanted, but were comparatively more likely to contact the call center, despite their successful visit?
This finding could highlight a gap in the company’s customer experience that may need to be investigated and addressed to prevent damaging the company’s customer retention efforts. Maybe there’s an issue with the billing system in the Account Manager, or the self-service options are not communicated clearly on the website?
In this example, the findings resulting from collecting the Next Steps metric opens the opportunity for more in-depth research to determine the cause of this behavior and, ultimately, improve the efficiency of the call center and reduce related operational costs.
Better visualize the next step in the customer journey
Being able to determine what customers will do immediately following any interaction with your brand is valuable information for any CX professional looking to design a simpler path along the customer journey. Next Steps can help you to more accurately pinpoint whether the experiences you are designing are leading to the desired outcomes, or whether specific experiences are leading to outcomes that are detrimental to your bottom line.
In an increasingly omni-channel world where customers can easily bounce from one channel to another and have a multitude of options (i.e., competitors) at their disposal, any insight into their future decisions can be a valuable competitive advantage to have.
Did you like this post? Make sure to check out these other posts in our ongoing Customer Experience Metrics Series:
- Customer Effort Score
- Overall Satisfaction
- Visitor Intent
- Net Promoter Score®
- Task Completion
- Purchase Horizon
Banner image source: Oziel Gómez on Pexels