Cracking the Metrics Code

Metrics code 300x157 - Cracking the Metrics CodeFor years, I’ve heard communication practitioners talk about the importance of measuring everything that mattered EXCEPT financial or operating performance. Measures such as tweets, re-tweets, page views, content consumption, readability, channel usage, word count, timing of content delivery and a ton of other irrelevant measures.

Communication measures and broad business measures should be the same or they’re likely to work at cross purposes.

Cracking the Metrics Code was the topic that I and three other International Association of Business Communicators Circle of Fellows members addressed last week in a YouTube broadcast.

My question is and has always been; if, for instance, on-time delivery is an important measure because of its impact on attracting and keeping customers, why wouldn’t one of the communication department’s key roles be to eliminate communication breakdowns that cause a company to miss its delivery promises?

It is doable, you know!

A few years ago, I worked with a client on this very subject. A manufacturing operation was losing customers because it couldn’t keep its delivery promises to customers. The root cause of the missed delivery dates was poor communication between major departments. One was between sales and manufacturing. Sales submitted an order. A couple of days later the customer called with a slight modification in the original order. But somehow the customer’s change didn’t make it to the people who manufactured the product. The customer received the original order, not the one that the customer was ultimately promised.

This happened repeatedly. It’s hard to build trust with these kinds of inconsistencies.Capture 2 300x189 - Cracking the Metrics Code

Fortunately, we helped them improve the way customers and our client’s various departments communicate with each other. Within a few weeks, on-time, as promised delivery went from 67 to 92.4 percent—a 38 per cent increase. That’s where value comes in.


KEY TAKEAWAY: The communication function isn’t about “messaging”. Why? Because communication professionals today are, or should be, moving from an activities orientation (sending out messages) to one that delivers results and value. Providing people with the right information at the right times so they can take the right actions will drive performance upward. The results then, should be much greater than the cost of creating them. Those are the metrics that matter.


  1. It still amazes me that “output” v. “outcomes” remains the primary mindset / value proposition of communication leaders. Ultimately, it boils down to the trust that the C suite has in the communication leader / organization to affect meaningful impact.

    1. Me too, Eric. I think it’s a combination of business leaders not knowing what their communication people could/should be doing and communication people whose comfort levels reside in the newsletter/video world. And then there are the super-pros like you who increased export sales in six FedEx locations and generated 1,660 percent ROI.

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