I hear from a lot of Website and product managers who express an interest in “improving” the look and feel, navigation or customer engagement of their Websites, without a clear concept of what their current metrics are.

My question always is, how can you know what you’re improving unless you know where you are now?  The short answer is, you can’t.

Survey Monkey did a thoughtful article recently on benchmarking (and benchmarking surveys).  They define benchmarking as setting the standard for a business, so you know when you make improvements (or go downhill). It can also be the standard for a specific product or service (i.e., your Website or suite of applications).

They surveyed over 300 business owners and found only 1/3 of them were actually setting benchmarks on customer satisfaction or other metrics. But over 90% of the businesses that consider themselves successful were benchmarking.

This is key. In my experience, the Fortune 500 clients (read “successful”) tend to benchmark. Others may or may not.  Do you want to be successful with your Website and your business (or not?).

There are many benchmarks you can make that relate to about the customer experience and user experience including:

  • Overall Customer Satisfaction with your business or organizations
  • Satisfaction using your Website
  • Likelihood of recommending your site
  • Likelihood of returning to your site

For anyone who values strategy, benchmarking is critical. Without it, stategy is a game of darts. You won’t know how much you can move any indicator unless you’ve been consistently following your customers /users with surveys and incremental improvements, then retracking to see your results.

So consider where you are now – and benchmark it – before launching on an improvement campaign.

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