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Use SMIRC Goals to Define Customer Experience Outcomes

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You’ve heard of SMART goals… But what about 😏 SMIRC goals?

It’s not uncommon in my experience coaching, consulting, and workshopping with business leaders to come across goals that are vague, impossible to quantify, or otherwise unhelpful. I don’t say this to shame anybody, but to highlight it’s so easy for all of us to do.

A classic methodology to combat this in business and life has been SMART goals — an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound.

These are the most common definitions, but you’ll often see the initials changed as needed: Sometimes the S may stand for strategic, the M for motivating, the A for assignable or action-oriented, and so on.

There’s nothing wrong with the SMART methodology, in fact it can be really helpful!

But the fact these initials can change indicates one limitation: it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and often requires some thought into what your specific organization or situation demands.

Let’s get one thing straight — I’m not out here to solve that. But I will offer an alternative acronym that I’ve found tends to work really well when building goals and defining success related to customer experience.

I call it a SMIRC goal.

What is a SMIRC Goal?

A SMIRC Customer Experience Goal is:

  1. Social
  2. Measurable
  3. Inspiring
  4. Relevant
  5. Contextual

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.


Your outcomes have to relate back to your overall business and leadership goals  .

Creating goals that are Social will help you get that critical buy-in from others in your organization. Collaboration across the business is critical for getting things done. Customer journey improvements require leaders from all different teams prioritizing these needs and acting on them.

Now, this doesn’t mean every department needs to own the same exact goals. But these goals should support one another, and all support the bigger goals of the organization. For example, when the UI team meets their goal of simplifying the ordering process, it helps the support team reach their goal of limiting wait times. And these both support the larger vision of creating the most effortless customer experience in the industry.

Cross-departmental leaders need to understand — and train their teams on — the big picture result that comes from reaching their individual goals.

Customer experience is built on collaboration. Customer experience leaders must focus on outcomes other leaders will care about. Leaders throughout the organization need to hear about customer experience success in ways they understand as their success, too. Don’t lose sight of how important building bridges throughout the business really is.


This is a word you usually find in the M part of SMART goals, and it still applies here. But what does Measurable really mean?

There’s a reason this M shows up in both SMART and SMIRC goals. Without defining what success looks like, how do you know if you’ve really achieved it?

It’s not enough to list “Improve Customer Experience” or “Delight Customers More” as goals. How should those goals be measured?

Depending on the feedback systems and metrics you have in place, a measurable version of this could be: Increase Promoters by 5%, as measured by our Net Promoter Score program. That’s a clear, measurable outcome.

But what if you don’t have an NPS program to speak of? It’s not realistic to have that sort of measurable outcome if you haven’t set up HOW to measure it yet.

Sometimes, it’s enough to measure outcomes like “Set up a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program to measure NPS annually by July 1, 2021.” That’s STILL a measurable goal and helps you get one step closer to understanding what’s most important to measure and act on for your customers and your organization.

These types of measurable outcomes are necessary, especially in the early stages of CX maturity. Goals like these help avoid setting unrealistic expectations by saying “we’ll have NPS baseline metrics in 12 months!” It’s important to consider HOW you’ll measure the goal to actually measure it!

Of course, goals around customer feedback metrics like NPS and Customer Effort Score (CES) are also measurable outcomes, as long as you can make the case they are related to the overall goals. These types of measurements are straightforward and objective. But it’s not enough to just report these numbers. You can report on metrics all year long, but if no action is taken to improve the actual experience, those numbers won’t change on their own.

You’ll need others in your organization to make that happen. (Well it’s a good thing you’ve considered how to create social goals!)

There are challenges to making things measurable if your organization is not as mature in their CX transformation journey. Without robust analytics programs, data analysts, and centralized views of the customer in a Customer Data Platform (CDP), tracking these measurements can be labor-intensive.

If you need to be economical, look for what you are confident you CAN measure, then build from there.

In the beginning of a new survey program, survey response rates might be one of the first measurements to gauge. Build on to that with what’s measured in the surveys, then follow the links to those business outcomes like improved retention rates.


Business people love numbers, right? It’s so gratifying to see those arrows rise on line graphs and watch as the “right” percentages take over more of those pie charts!

But numbers aren’t what inspire others to care and to act. CX Success should be defined in storytelling terms .

  • What is one of the worst comments you are seeing from customers today?
  • What do you hope they’ll say in 6 months?
  • How does being successful in CX support your larger mission?

Visual learners on your team? Try creating actual photographs of what the experience should look like as an aspirational image everyone can understand.

These simple, straightforward goals work in a similar way as those “before and after” home renovation shows. Our brains like stories and connect with humans. Your CX success can be defined in this way to show the story is getting better for customers!

At Experience Investigators our mission is to create fewer ruined days for customers. That includes our clients’ customers, your customers, and also our own customers. When I understand the story of how achieving a specific goal — hitting my first 100 YouTube subscribers , for example — supports that mission, it becomes easier for me to work towards that outcome. It’s not about the number, it’s about the people behind that number who are helping us live our mission!


The world changes pretty fast these days. Your industry and marketplace probably do, too. Customer Experience Success cannot be designed in a vacuum.

Your customers are constantly dealing with new realities of their own, and your organization might be, too. Our defined success outcomes from 2018 might seem positively silly in 2020. What is impacting your customers today? What can you predict for their futures?

That might mean understanding exactly what’s happening your customer’s industry and adapting accordingly. It also means understanding the personal realities of your customers, like the new ways customers want to shop. Creating a CX goal around “get more people into the store” might not be realistic today. But a goal of “ensure customers feel safe to shop” certainly might be.

Success must be defined to be relevant for tomorrow’s market. And there’s no shame in evolving or adapting new success definitions as new truths emerge.

Today, we simply can’t ignore the global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, the social justice movement, and discussions on better inclusion . Relevant success means understanding the rest of the world and the ecosystems we all share.


Remember those leadership goals we talked about? Well CX success is dependent on the C-Suite executives thinking “this is good for me!”

Customer experience success must translate into their success, so defining how the entire CX program provides returns on these investments is critical. It’s not just about the overall purse; it’s about who controls, influences, and worries about the purse strings.

Better customer experiences translate into reduced costs serving customers. Those happy customers are more likely to stay customers longer, spend more with your brand, and tell their friends.

The reduced costs might show up first, so while your Chief Financial Officer loves to hear about those savings, your Chief Revenue Officer might be thinking “then why aren’t we seeing higher sales numbers yet?” Your Chief Marketing Officer might be thinking “Does this mean we can get better user reviews?”

CX leaders need to proactively answer these concerns. Paint the picture for those leaders with how these customer experience efforts will help them achieve those specific goals. Ask for what they need to see if you could collaborate. Your CMO might have great ideas on how to collect the best customer testimonials within your feedback mechanisms like surveys. The more they see their success in what you do, the more they will see your successful outcomes as steps towards theirs.

Download the free SMIRC Goals Checklist

We’ve Defined SMIRC Goals… Now Let’s Use Them to Build Your CX Success Statement

With SMIRC goals in mind, you’re ready to start using them to build a CX Success Statement. Which reminds me…

Next week we’ll be looking into 5 steps to build a CX Success Statement, including a downloadable template to help you consider your personal success factors. If you’re interested in being the first to know about it, subscribe below.

What’s one CX goal you’ve got that you think SMIRC can help with?  Let me know on LinkedIn.

About Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CSP

Jeannie Walters CCXP CSP small square photoJeannie is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker, and sought-after business coach who is trailblazing the movement from “Reactive Customer Service” to “Proactive Customer and Employee Experience.” More than 500,000 people have learned from her CX courses on LinkedIn Learning, and her insights have been featured in Forbes, The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal and NPR

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