The Metrics of Customer Experience, Part 4: Qualitative Customer Experience Metrics


The following is based on ideas from my recent book, Meaningful Measurement of the Customer Experience, now available everywhere. 

In the last article in the series, we explored quantitative customer experience metrics. Let’s now explore qualitative customer experience metrics, which will be the second subcategory of CX measurements within the framework, as shown in the figure below (Figure 2.5.1).

Figure 2.5.1, Quantitative measurement as defined in the CX measurement framework


If you are new to qualitative metrics, let’s compare them to quantitative metrics. While quantitative measurements are objective, verifiable numbers such as how many sales were made, or how many visits were made to a web page, qualitative metrics are based on someone’s subjective opinion. For instance, qualitative measurements include asking your customers what their experience was like in terms of good or bad, which is not as easy to interpret and assess. It’s like asking someone if they liked their cup of coffee. All of that depends on whether they like light or dark roast, hot or iced, sugar and cream or none, or any of the other myriad combinations possible.

Thus, qualitative measurements are those that can be subjectively measured like Net Promoter Scores (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), or things like sentiment analysis and other similar types of metrics.


Here are a few examples of qualitative metrics as they relate to customer experience:

  • Net Promoter Score question(s), such as “How likely are you to recommend this product or service?”

  • Other types of survey questions and responses

  • Sentiment analysis on social media comments

How to Measure

Here are a few examples of how to measure qualitative metrics for customer experience:

  • Customer surveys, which can include measurements for NPS and CSAT

  • Focus groups

  • Other feedback mechanisms

  • Sentiment analysis tools


Qualitative measurements can be helpful because sometimes objective measurements are simply not enough to tell a story. For instance, a customer can make it through a shopping experience which counts as a successful sale, but if they were made miserable every step of the way, they are unlikely to return or refer others. Thus, getting their subjective opinion can add insight in order to provide a better understanding.

Also, while I stated earlier in this book that qualitative measurements like NPS or CSAT shouldn’t be the only methods your organization uses to measure customer experience, these types of qualitative measurements can be extremely useful when you look at them as a relative point over time.

In other words, if you are measuring Net Promoter Score, and have been for many years, you can look at it as an important baseline measurement that you can use to see upswings and downswings over time. Used this way, they are an extremely helpful indicator that something is either going very well or very poorly.


The thing to remember with qualitative customer experience measurements is that they are an individual’s opinion, at a specific point in time. Both of those factors are worth discussing, albeit briefly.

An individual’s opinion about how their customer experience should proceed is useful information, but as every individual is unique in their own way, so is their expectation of what the optimal CX should be. In the aggregate, this is less of an issue because trends tend to normalize with a higher volume of inputs, but taken one-off, an anecdotal piece of evidence can sometimes skew internal perceptions about what may be either right or wrong.

The second component here is the fact that this is data gathered at a specific point in time. For instance, a customer may be extremely happy (or extremely upset) by the end of a process, but there might have been many things that went wrong (or well) throughout. If you only measure an individual’s opinion one time throughout the process, you’re really only gathering information about their feelings at a single point. I’m simplifying this here, of course, because good or bad experiences are built from multiple touchpoints, but it is also important to note that you may have extreme challenges at certain points in your customer journey that your buyers simply overlook because they made it through the process. Shoring up those gaps earlier in the process are still critical, because not all customers are alike, either. Some may be more affected by setbacks early on, or have longer memories!

Qualitative metrics are essential to understanding customer perceptions of your organization’s customer experience. As long as they are balanced with other metrics, including the quantitative ones, as well as the internal metrics we’ll be discussing in the two articles that follow in this series, they provide good context that is difficult to measure otherwise.

This article is based on ideas from my recent book, Meaningful Measurement of the Customer Experience, now available everywhere.

By Greg Kihlstrom

Keywords: Analytics, Customer Experience, Marketing

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