Having designed and launched CX programs for several large hospitality organizations, I’ve witnessed a common misstep: adopting a one size fits all approach to customer metrics. When senior leaders attempt to rally the organization around a metric such as NPS, it often creates a very unintended consequence: disengagement. Employees react negatively when they are pushed to achieve a measurement that they don’t understand or don’t feel empowered to improve.

In the world of hospitality, many different teams and operational areas come together to generate the guest and brand experience. A typical hotel has over 20 different departments and divisions that collectively determine the customer’s experience. Any good CX metric effort needs to align and mobilize all of these groups. Given the dynamic nature of hospitality organizations, let’s see how they can apply our Five Steps For Building A Strong CX Metrics Program. I’ve also added a recommendation for each step.


Step #1: Determine a Core CX Metric

This step is about selecting a primary metric for the organization that will serve as your CX northstar. Effectively this core metric should answer the age-old question commonly asked by senior executives, “How are we performing?” Here’s my recommendation for this step:

  • Don’t fall in love with any metric. Many hospitality organizations use Net Promoter Score (NPS) as their core CX metric. You may want to also consider overall satisfaction or intent to return, as these metrics may provide a clearer picture of how guests perceive their experiences, rather than filtering it through the lens of whether or not they’d recommend it to their friends or family (some of whom may not be your target demographic in the first place). In any case, remember that there is no such thing as an ultimate question, and the value you get from the metric will be driven by following through on the next four steps.


Step #2: Set Achievable Goals

With your northstar CX metric decided, it still doesn’t answer, “How are we performing?” This next step is focused on establishing the goalposts to answer that critical question. While having this discussion with the aforementioned hospitality organizations, one similar action usually took place… Someone at the table googled what a good score was and started a discussion about setting goals. Unfortunately, organizations don’t know enough to set a good goal and to understand what, if any, differences there should be in the goals across the organization. Our research shows, for instance, that NPS can vary wildly across countries. Here’s my recommendation for this step:

  • Start with a year of calibration. When introducing this metric to your company’s leadership group and team members, it’s important to be transparent that this is new, and it will take time to understand what this looks like as you begin to receive guest feedback. In many of the hospitality CX program implementations that I have led, we chose to take the first year with the new metric as a learning year. Instead of setting a target for what the score should be, they took a year to establish a baseline. This year of learning allowed those organizations to not only attentively listen to what their guests were saying, but also discover what external factors may impact the score, as well as understand longer-term trends and key drivers. It also provided them with the time to establish processes for interpreting and responding to the feedback.  


Step #3: Identify Key Drivers

This next step is focused on digging deeper into the drivers that positively and negatively impact your northstar CX metric. The exercise of conducting a key driver analysis is usually a collaborative exercise with analysts and business stakeholders. Internal research or insights teams can support this as well as a multitude of external partners. Identifying your key drivers is critical for identifying the moments within your guests’ journeys that either give you the biggest positive bang for your buck or sink your scores like the titanic. Here’s my recommendation for this step:

  • Focus on the customer, not the company. One of the first steps here is to let go of legacy scores or metrics which were likely created to track what someone in the organization thought guests cared about. Instead,  track drivers that the customers actually care about. For example, in hotels, we know that arriving in a clean room is one of the biggest drivers to a guest’s perception. Instead of asking the guest to generically rate the room, we asked how their room was upon arrival to not only gauge satisfaction but also solicit actionable insights to fix it if it was a poor experience.


Step #4: Establish Key Driver Metrics

To hold leaders and employees accountable for improving the parts of the key drivers they control, companies must develop “key driver metrics.” A key driver metric is a granular metric that measures one specific element of a driver. Unlike the Core CX Metric, these metrics will be plentiful and diverse. Each particular group at the organization should have its own unique set of key driver metrics that reflects how it affects the key drivers and, by extension, the Core CX Metric. Here’s my recommendation for this step:

  • Keep it simple for the front line. If you give teams a lot of metrics to focus on, then the staff won’t even think of them in their day-to-day activities. That’s why I like to recommend using a small number of metrics for each department, focused on their relevant operations. Focus on trending comments or unstructured data around the touchpoints that each team actively influences, and track progress and trends over a rolling 90-day period. In one implementation across a global hospitality organization, each department and property established metrics for staff friendliness. They also tracked if guests had encountered a problem or defect in the experience within their area, and if so, was the guest satisfied with the resolution. This created clear direction for the teams on the front line… ensure the staff is friendly, prevent problems from occurring, and positively resolve problems if they occur.


Step #5: Make the Suite of Metrics Actionable

The definition of actionable is a word that can truly sit in the eye of the beholder in large organizations. The C-suite has a perception and goals, and so do the front-line operators bringing the experiences to life. Clearly defining who should be focused on which metrics helps clear up what this means to each stakeholder and allows teams to focus on the impact they can make. But, leaders need to make sure that they act on what’s important, and don’t overreact to everything else. Here’s my recommendation for this step:  

  • Trigger action based on ranges. In order to ensure that an organization reacts appropriately to the metrics, I recommend setting ranges by month/quarter for each property within the organization based on the data we had from the learning year. These ranges take into account changes in segmentation, occupancy, and any strategic initiatives that may be coming such as the introduction of new fees. I often used three ranges color-coded to green (on track), yellow (monitor), and red (off track). This allowed the company CX leader to strategically prioritize which properties needed more attention and intervention, more so than those that were performing in the green range.


The bottom line: Craft CX metrics to enable the front line to drive action.

Greg Chase, XMP, CCXP, is an XM Catalyst with the Qualtrics XM Institute