Going through the checkout at a certain supermarket, I commented on how quickly the cashier was scanning my items. “I have to,” she replied. “We have to scan 30 items a minute.”
“So, you’re measured?” I asked. “What happens if you don’t achieve it?”
“We get told off – but not as bad as [other supermarket] – they really get told off!”
I pointed out that she was probably hoping I didn’t scupper the whole thing for her. The problem was that I packed at a rate of decidedly fewer than 30 items per minute! She had to keep stopping for me to catch up. I was the factor beyond her control – and I was destroying her target.
The point of the target was well-intentioned of course, to ensure the queue kept moving and customers weren’t kept waiting. And there was merit in making the target tangible for staff – something easy to measure that would give a performance indicator for staff to achieve.
But a significant factor – customer packing speed – couldn’t be controlled. As such the target became if not meaningless, then seriously compromised.
There’s a saying, “what gets measured gets done”, and there’s truth in that of course. A key part of marketing planning involves determining the measures for success – the ‘metrics’ – and they can be many and varied, and at both strategic and operational levels.
But failing to take a global view and examine entire processes can lead to silly metrics. For example, measuring website visitor numbers is important – yet as a metric it can be utterly misleading if taken in isolation; it can result in the wrong kind of marketing thinking and action, and should never be an end in itself.
A grasp on marketing and sales processes, and a clear understanding of all the influences on these, is a first step in setting sensible marketing metrics that actually help push the business towards success.
Another is knowing when to measure, and at what depth to measure – whether an entire campaign, or a particular element of it.
Yes, there is an art to setting good metrics – whether for marketing, customer service, or other areas of your business. Get it wrong, and you can end up making bad decisions and rewarding the wrong kinds of activities. But get it right, and your metrics will drive the right kind of activities, instil focus, and build motivation, which in turn will lead to better results.
Need help setting sensible marketing metrics? Talk to us about our Marketing Consultancy services.