If satisfaction is the goal, what’s the KPI?

Most companies measure customer satisfaction. It’s an extremely important metric. But are you also measuring its leading indicator?

Last week, MarketOne’s partners spent time at our Boston headquarters, planning for the second half of the year. We had some great discussions around the future of B2B demand generation, our internal operations, and how to ensure we’re prioritizing the right initiatives.

This got me thinking about what makes us successful as a company. Our clients tend to stick with us year after year. Maintaining those relationships and ensuring they feel like MarketOne is their trusted partner is crucial. Of course, without fantastic people on our team to build that trust and make sure our clients are happy, we’d be nowhere.

But how do we make sure we’re keeping those clients happy? We regularly issue customer satisfaction surveys, measure our Net Promoter Score, solicit feedback, and course-correct when necessary. These things are a critical means of tracking progress and highlighting gaps.

But when a client is unhappy, we want to know what led to that situation so that we can make a change as soon as satisfaction starts to dip. And when we have a client who is extremely satisfied, we want to know what we’ve done right so that we can do more of it. Ideally, we’d have a more immediate, tangible performance indicator to let us know how we’re trending, so we can take immediate action rather than waiting for periodic survey scores to trigger a response.

When we’re advocating measurement approaches to our clients, we think about how to measure engagement along the buyer journey as a KPI that influences the ultimate MQL or revenue goal. So why not apply that same thinking to measuring customer satisfaction?

What leads to satisfaction?

I would argue that the KPI we should be prioritizing is success.

Success is the objective (rather than subjective) measure of whether or not our clients’ business goals are achieved. Why use success as an indicator of satisfaction? Well, when a happy client moves on from their role, their replacement never asks, “Was my predecessor satisfied?” No, they want to know what we’ve done to make them successful. What our achievements have been. And what we’ll be doing to also make them successful in their new role.

Is it always perfect? No. It’s possible to deliver on a company’s business goals and still have an unhappy client – satisfaction surveys and feedback loops aren’t going away. But it’s much more likely that if a client is achieving their goals with our help, and able to show off their wins to their colleagues and management, they’ll be glad to continue working with us.

How to make the Success KPI operational

We should all know how to set SMART goals by now. Going forward when we embark upon a new project with a client, we will ensure we’ve articulated a specific, achievable goal and defined how it will be measured. We’ll also make sure it’s documented in a shared brief, for easy reference. Then, our teams will check in regularly to ensure we’re hitting our success measure, and if not, find ways to improve performance. With that tangible project goal in place, we can work diligently to make sure we’re going in the right direction.

Ultimately, successful clients are what we’re working to achieve. And when we do, the result is satisfaction. In the end, that’s what creates a successful business.