Don’t Confuse Metrics and Measurement

When you read the title for this post you thought of the myriad reports your company produces and the metrics used to track performance, with traditional metrics being revenues, costs, profits, customer satisfaction and similar.  About 99% of my clients are in the same boat (at least when we start working together).  Most people will swear that measurement is just about tracking metrics .  Few people will know that measurement is not about tracking metrics – it is about selecting them and using them.

Even fewer understand why.

I have seen discussions in twitter and blogs lately about being stuck using the same old metrics.  You have a web site? Let’s track visits, page views, time on site, etc.  You have a call center? then we need to track number of calls, average handle time, average hold time, etc.  Marketing programs? sure, we can track number of emails out, number of reads, click-through, etc.  You have a hammer?  everything looks like a nail.

It is almost as if all the activities that organizations take on are already mapped out and metrics exist for them.  Best part about it? If you use the established metrics you can then benchmark  against others.

And, when you do that you get the same results as others.  You become just as mediocre and average as everyone else.  Sure, you don’t get fired — but you don’t grow your business, learn of new opportunities, or find out how to win over your competitors.  You actually remove competition – you become one more in the crowd.

The Measurement Confusion is what drives all this.

Most people intuitively know the metrics they would like to track for their business.  They know they are personalized to their specific situation.  However, they are confused as to how to get it done.  Thus, they settle for the average, mediocre set of metrics that everyone else follows.  Not the ones you need for your business, but the ones that are easy to get and to use.  This means you miss opportunities to improve your business, find new opportunities, and be successful.

Are you sure you want to run your business with someone else’s metrics? Would you rather succeed in tracking your own? What do you think?

7 Replies to “Don’t Confuse Metrics and Measurement”

  1. Esteban – congratulations on your new platform, glad to see you continuing the tradition of leaving no stone unturned. I agree that many organizations measure wrongly – through benchmarking the competition or whatever role model they have or just because they can instead of starting with their strategic objectives and drilling down from there. I look forward to seeing this discussion develop, I am sure it will be fascinating.



    1. Chris,

      Thanks for a great comment. I will agree with you again – on the idea that we are seeing progress. The key issue here is to change the mentality in the organization in two aspects: customer service is not a cost center (it is a brand management, revenue-generation center), and the idea that efficiency is done and potential marginal gains in efficiency could never compare with gains to be made from loyal customers and effectiveness-based processes and metrics.

      Thanks for stopping by!


  2. I agree with your definition of this problem and lay blame to some of it for the current limitation of tools in the market, amount of data that needs to be crunched and corporate heritage. Hey, we spent so much money on a web analytics tool, we need to get all the metrics we can out of it (even if they are meaningless), right?

    At ClickFox we do things a little differently when analyzing customer experiences. Sure we have lots of metrics, but the main idea is to measure and understand customer behavior and improve the customer experience.

    Love the new blog. Looking forward to some great discussions.


  3. I couldn’t agree more. My biggest pet peeves are Service Level and AHT. Percentages and Averages hide more than they reveal. The challenge in shifting this mindset is two fold: exposing the underlying data so that people can effectively measure what they need (great progress being made in this area) and getting people to realize that there are better ways to look at their business. Unfortunately, change usually isn’t easy.


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