To Benchmark or not to Benchmark

At NICE Fizzback Insight Consulting, our clients usually request us to conduct customer satisfaction benchmarks. Benchmarking possibilities are almost endless with the graph below portraying some examples (where we could apply any combination of them): 

The Universe of Benchmarking

Benchmarking often leads to a reality check, throwing up unexpected results. Since like-for-like comparisons are almost impossible to make, those who disappointed with the results may think of several excuses, or at least question the numbers. Some of the questions and comments I often hear are: “Really??? Can we get more detail on that?”, “… but the experience in retail is different than in a call center”… and in truth a level of questioning is valid, as the nature of benchmarks requires results to be contextualised. However, on occasion this turns into a political game where decision makers can forget the main purpose of the exercise.

On the other hand, clients who were nicely surprised typically won’t question the numbers – instead they will pat themselves on the back and sometimes get too comfortable with their results…

While I am posing only two extreme examples, the point I want to make is that often the main goal of benchmarking is missed. Regardless of the caveats, the questions we should ask are:

If a bottom performer: “What explains the gap and what can I do to narrow it?”
If a top performer: “What should I do more of and what are my benchmarks doing in an attempt to close the gap?” (Remember: these numbers are never static!)

So in the question to Benchmark or not to Benchmark, the answer is clear to me: Benchmark. Contextualise. And DO something about it!

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