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Lead indicator success with your next survey

One of the challenges, when we want to survey our customers  is to look for a lead indicator, rather than a lag indicator.  Ultimately we could measure the profit we make, but that is clearly seen to be a lag indicator.  Profit is also not very useful in determining what we need to do to increase our profitability.

Lead Indicator versus Lag Indicator

Lag Indicator

Even asking how we have done servicing their needs over the last few months is a lag indicator. They normally have difficulty remembering exactly what you did for them, even if you prompt them with some service outcomes such as, “cooperation”, “value for money”, or “communication”. These service outcomes are a good start, but add some enabling outcomes such as, “pro-activity”, “self-confidence”, or “product knowledge”.

Lead Indicator

When it comes to measuring the response, we suggest using a Likert type scale, say -5 to +5. This encourages the respondent to not select the mid-point (in this case 0). We also suggest getting your team to self-assess on exactly the same outcomes. This way you can test if there is a correlation between what your team thinks and what the customer thinks.

Why not get the respondents to do their ratings over three time frames. You could choose the past (say six months ago), now, and the future (say in six months’ time).  Have a look at the example below and think what it tells you.


Notice I have added an additional column, Importance To You. What this rating tells me is the cooperation is important to the customer. Cooperation is getting getting worse, and it needs to be much better. I wonder how the employees would rate cooperation? If you can get a reasonable sample size, say 20 people or more, we suggest plotting the responses into a histogram. Then you can overlaying the four histograms for each outcome.

Lead Indicator Success

The key outcome of such a survey is to conduct a gap analysis. Then pareto the outcomes to find the 20% of the items that provide 80% of the performance improvement opportunity. Adding the future column enables you to pro-actively plan. You can plan to improve the perceptions of the customers, as well as providing your team with feedback and a plan to improve the key outcomes.

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