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How did your Easter measure up?

It was a typical English Easter weekend, typically changeable weather and children typically bored at the end of two weeks school holiday. So, what to do? Well, we were running out of ideas, which might explain how we ended up in a long line of equally dispirited families, waiting to pay for things we did not really want at the local garden centre. I know, I know, but we were desperate people!

How did your Easter measure up?

I was trying to ignore the gently increasing hubbub around me, from children who wanted to be anywhere else but here, my thoughts turned to the owners of the business. “They must be laughing all the way to the bank” I mused, looking around at the queues of people. Not a very original thought, but it was the end of a four day weekend and my mind was definitely in neutral. But, were they?

 Was this what ‘good’ looked like for a garden centre? What seemed to me a heaving mass of people intent on spending money might not meet their expectations. Might not, in fact, be a good day’s business at all. Which led me to today’s question.

How do you measure your business?

A fairly simple sounding question, but a world of pain when you try to find and implement an answer. Still, it is a critically important question. Without a clear view of success, and the right metrics in place to mark and delineate change – positive and negative – over time, you cannot hope to ever know if your business is successful or not.

The old cliché is trotted out, variations around not being able to manage what you cannot measure, but that does not answer the 'how' part. How you measure is as important as what you measure. In the world of customer service, we have seen many ideas come and go. It seems there are almost as many variations as there are organisations measuring stuff, with only a few gaining widespread acceptance. First-time Fix Rate in equipment service and On-Time In-Full for goods delivery services are prime examples.

One popular cross-industry measure is, of course, Net Promoter Score (NPS). Created by customer loyalty expert Fred Reichheld, and originally posed in his book 'The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth' (2006), it is now widely adopted in both retail and B2B service organisations as a good measure of customer loyalty – how they feel about your brand, and their overall experience with you.

But, it is of limited use when trying to measure the individual elements of service delivery, or individual mobile workers. And, in itself, gives no clues about what you should change in order to improve, or how you should go about making those changes – whatever they might be.

Dave Webb, Cognito’s Consultancy Director, has recently concluded a series of blog posts on Sustainable Peak Performance describing the steps on the journey to brilliant service delivery. He will next be turning his attention to this topic of measurement, which has so distracted me at the garden centre.

Anyone want a set of solar powered plastic rocks for their garden? As-new condition and never been out of the box… Going cheap… No? Me neither. But somehow they made it into my trolley yesterday. Such is the irresistible allure of an English garden centre!

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