Do you use your customer experience (CX) metrics to incentivize frontline employees in your company? Here is a cautionary tale I came across in my wireless provider’s store.

While I was chatting with the representative who took care of my problem, I overheard another representative ask a customer for a 9 or 10 on the satisfaction survey. Don’t stop reading — we all know this happens; this is not what this is about. Given that I am a CX analyst with a passion for CX measurement, I asked my service rep what this was all about. What he said about the employee perspective on this blew me away: He said that the company basically said, “Southwest [Airlines] gets nearly only 9’s and 10’s on the survey (meaning the NPS question) so we should be able to do that, too.”

Setting targets for CX metrics requires more than that — benchmarking is a part of it, but it also requires a solid baseline and a realistic stretch target, with realistic being the operative word here. It is probably no surprise to you that the experience those two companies provide is hardly comparable. If you look at Forrester’s 2014 Customer Experience Index (CXi), Southwest Airlines is the industry leader among airlines with a CXi score of 81. And its score is way ahead of the average score for wireless providers of 71 (and also way ahead of my wireless provider’s CXi score).

Sure, I’d love for my wireless provider to be as good as Southwest Airlines. But basically its approach seemed to be: “We just expect that our sales reps should be able to deliver great experiences.” And here is another shocker. The employees were told that not getting a score of 9 or 10 the first time will result in a verbal warning, the second time a written warning, and the third time a termination of the contract. And turnover — as perceived by employees — had accelerated. But good CX measurement is embedded in the right customer-centric culture, which is a system of shared values and behaviors that focus employees on delivering great customer experiences. So companies need the right practices for hiring, socialization, and rewards. And they need to isolate behaviors that drive CX scores and that employees can influence.

Are you developing a CX measurement program? Are you setting targets based on your CX metrics? We'd love to hear your challenges and best practices.