Measuring Employee Performance from a Customer Perspective

April 13 , 2021 by in Marketing
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angry customer steaming at phone

Measuring employee performance is important for any successful business. It may be a cliche, but it’s true– the quality of any given company’s employees make it or break it in the long run.

You probably already have some employee evaluations in place. You may even be tracking certain KPIs and keeping a mountain of internal data on how each employee performs. You’re tracking their attendance, productivity, sales, and many other data points.

But, in my opinion, too few companies are measuring employee performance from a customer perspective.

You’re likely not there to see the full extent of every employee’s interaction with every customer. You know how your employees are performing internally, but you don’t know how customers perceive each employee– unless you get an angry call or a negative online review, which usually takes you completely off guard.

I recommend using an employee sentiment score, based solely on the customer’s perspective. That way, you can combine your own evaluation of every employee with the customer’s evaluation, and come up with a more realistic outlook on how they’re actually performing.

This is important, because we often don’t know employee-customer problems are costing us money until it’s too late.

Catching Problems Before They Cost You Money

When you don’t know how your customers feel about your employees, either because you think everything’s fine, or because you’re too busy running your business, you could be in for a nasty surprise.

Here’s an example: A company I work with recently found one of their stores was down $30k for the month. For any medium sized business with multiple locations, that’s a lot of money. As it turns out, they had just a small handful of problem employees who were ignoring customers’ needs. Fulfilling those needs was “too much work” for these employees, so those customers turned to the competition.

If they’d been keeping an employee sentiment score, and had been measuring that score from a customer perspective, they could have caught that problem before it cost them $30k.

Michelle Pascoe, a long time innovator in the world of customer sentiment, recently wrote a great article for The CEO Magazine. Here are a few of her insights:

“Consistent service that is delivered by you and all of your staff every day, even when you’re short-staffed, or you’re dealing with a customer has not been very nice in the past, is what sets your business apart from your competitors.

Measuring your performance identifies where you are succeeding and where there are opportunities to improve. It is the first step to raising your operating standards.

Given the increasing competition for the customer dollar, it is critical to implement measuring into your business. And believe me, your competitors certainly will be doing it if they want to succeed…

… Too often we assume that staff will have the same drive, knowledge and enthusiasm that we do as owners and managers. Measuring and then analysing the results will provide you real time feedback on those staff who are going beyond the expectations of your customers along with the opportunities to improve service and even identify where resources or further training are required.”

Michelle is right on, especially in that last paragraph. We all love our companies, and we put everything we have into making them succeed. But our employees don’t always feel the same way.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t trust your employees. Thinking every employee is out to cost your business money, do the minimum amount of work possible, and just generally see what they can get away with can create a really toxic work environment.

As we both know, a healthy work environment leads to happy, productive employees.

So, what I’m saying is trust, but verify. Trust your employees, make them feel like an essential part of the team– but verify that your trust is warranted.

The Third Party Advantage

Back to that employee sentiment score– how should you collect that information, anyway?

You could call every customer that comes in and ask what they thought of your customer service, but that’s inefficient. It would make more sense to send an email or text survey at the end of every transaction.

But, there’s a problem with sending your own surveys– customers often won’t fully trust or just won’t feel fully comfortable answering a survey coming directly from you.

For optimal results, use a third party tool. There are many available.

People will more easily open up to a third party, because they feel they can be honest. They won’t feel like you’re breathing down their neck, and they won’t feel like they’re going to cost an employee their job just by being honest.

Here’s a good perspective from customer retention firm Continuity Programs:

“A professional organization can have better credibility. By using a neutral third-party source, your customers are less likely to believe the survey is “rigged” in your favor. They’re more assured of confidentiality and are likely to provide more truth in their answers. If they think their responses will be taken seriously and can have a genuine impact on your business processes, they’re more likely to respond.”

Third party surveys are often more credible, and they allow your customers to fully open up and explain their successes or difficulties.

Plus, if you receive the same consistent data points from a third party, you’ll be able to easily incorporate an employee sentiment score into your overall employee performance measurements.

Making It Easy

There are dozens of ways to formulate and measure employee performance, even when it comes to customer sentiment.

Harvard Business Review came up with the Balanced Scorecard, and it’s an interesting concept.

Here’s an excerpt from their proposal and research:

“Customers’ concerns tend to fall into four categories: time, quality, performance and service, and cost. Lead time measures the time required for the company to meet its customers’ needs. For existing products, lead time can be measured from the time the company receives an order to the time it actually delivers the product or service to the customer. For new products, lead time represents the time to market, or how long it takes to bring a new product from the product definition stage to the start of shipments. Quality measures the defect level of incoming products as perceived and measured by the customer. Quality could also measure on-time delivery, the accuracy of the company’s delivery forecasts. The combination of performance and service measures how the company’s products or services contribute to creating value for its customers.

To put the balanced scorecard to work, companies should articulate goals for time, quality, and performance and service and then translate these goals into specific measures. Senior managers at ECI, for example, established general goals for customer performance: get standard products to market sooner, improve customers’ time to market, become customers’ supplier of choice through partnerships with them, and develop innovative products tailored to customer needs. The managers translated these general goals into four specific goals and identified an appropriate measure for each.”

That article is a fantastic read, and you could do much worse than implementing Harvard Business Review’s suggestions.

But those suggestions are complicated. I recommend using something much easier.

I started RevenueJump because I firmly believe people dislike friction when they’re giving feedback. The more seamless and easy it is, the more likely the customer is to leave an online review or give feedback.

What if you could send a one-click survey, from a credible third party, to each of your customers at the end of every transaction? And what if that survey could measure every employee attached to that transaction, all from the customer’s perspective? And, even better, what if it could be sent with a simple text message?

It would allow you to capture real opinions from actual customers, and it would allow you to easily assign an employee sentiment score to each of your team members.

Well, it exists, and it’s one of the RevenueJump features I’m most proud of.

If you want a full, accurate snapshot of each of your employees’ overall performance, you have to take the customer’s perspective into account. You can’t just assume you know what the customer is thinking. Instead, you have to find a way to capture their honest opinion on each employee.

In my experience, using a third party tool to gather customer sentiment is the only way to go. They’re much more likely to be open and honest with a third party– and little white lies from your customers aren’t going to help your bottom line.

Measuring each team member with an employee sentiment score can help you identify problems before they cost you money, and ensure each customer is a repeat customer.


Thanks for reading!


About Brodie Tyler

Brodie Tyler is an experienced speaker, published author, innovative entrepreneur, and digital marketing expert since 2000. When he's not working, he's probably hanging out with his wife and four kids.

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