How to Measure Customer Usage and Intent

By Jeff Sauro

The final stage of the hierarchy of effects is measuring usage — how much a customer has used the product in the past and what the customer plans to do in the future (intent).

Finding out past usage

You need to understand how frequently and how often customers purchase your products and your competitors’ products or services. This provides an overall view of how customers interact with each brand and how strong or weak the relationship is for different customer segments. For example, in a study of airline and travel website usage, customers who recently booked flights online were asked the following questions:

Which website have you used in the last year to book airfare?

How frequently per year do you book tickets for business and pleasure?

Do you belong to the airline loyalty program (for example, United MileagePlus or Southwest Rapid Rewards)?

Do you own a rewards credit card for the airline?

Understanding how frequently these customers and prospective customers interact with your products allows you to understand how usage is affected by brand attitude, and to some extent, brand awareness.

Measuring future intent

Measuring customer usage with a brand helps describe what’s happened in the past. But of equal importance is what’s likely to happen in the future. Asking customers or prospective customers their future intent helps provide information about awareness and attitude to predict future sales. Examples of future intent questions include the following:

If you had to make a laptop purchase today, which brand would you choose?

How likely are you to continue flying on American Airlines?

How likely are you to recommend Dell laptops to a friend or colleague?

Intent questions can be more sophisticated and combine brand and product questions with questions about pricing and features.