A good friend once told me that using quantitative metrics to assess a qualitative experience is a bit like trying to drive a nail with a B flat. Now, there is nothing wrong with B flats. Mozart used them all the time in his symphony-composing work. But, when he elected to do a little carpentry, he preferred a strong hammer to a musical note.
With the squeeze on profit margins and the push for expense control we are witnessing leaders getting a little silly on trying to quantify things that are by nature qualitative—like a customer experience. Proof always trumps faith; cause and effect typically takes precedent over correlation.
We use evaluative metrics like “completely satisfied” when a satisfactory customer experience is little more than “meeting the customer’s need.” We let computers decide who gets upgraded when customers are far more delighted if it comes from the front-line relationship.
It all reminds me of an Easter egg hunt. If bottom-line, quarterly profit-obsessed leaders were in charge of an Easter egg hunt, success would be measured by the number of eggs found. We all know it is the decibel level of the squeals and the glow of children’s faces that determines true success. And, it would not be too far-fetched for some enterprising number-crunching leader to figure out a way to spy on the egg-hiding process just to get the edge on the all-important egg-finding metric.
Let’s stop applying six sigma thinking to customer experiences that need variation to be delightful. Let’s put delight-making back in the hands of the generous, ingenious front-line person in charge of the customer relationship! We need more magic, more awe, and more surprise. Customer experience can be a glorious, emotional gift. And, there is no magic in knowing exactly what’s inside your beautifully wrapped birthday present.