Human KPIs are The New Definition of Business Success

How do you know if your business is successful?

Is it paying a certain dividend to shareholders? Making a profit?

Or is it being able to contribute in a meaningful way to a charitable organization?

What if your company’s KPIs included employee satisfaction or the stability of a strong repeat customer base?


The strict definition of business success is making enough sales to cover your costs and still have some left over. That profit can then be dispersed or re-invested for further growth.

But I’m wondering whether there couldn’t be some more human KPIs.

Increasingly it seems that simply making a profit is no longer enough. Partly driven by the millennial workforce and partly driven by a more nuanced understanding of what a business’ moral obligations might be, the humanity of business has become a thing.

Which seems to me what small businesses did before they became big businesses. When business was personal, it HAD to be more focused on individual customers.

Doesn’t it just make sense? Consumers are increasingly choosing to purchase from businesses that aren’t the cheapest. Businesses that have fair workplace practices, are ethically and environmentally motivated, and yes, that put the customer first are selected, even when they cost more.

Sure, consumers can always choose the cheapest option. And sometimes that choice is the right one. But if the service is second grade (and it usually is) a repeat purchase is a lot less likely. And that’s a fast track to business failure.

Serving a customer first, a human being, is the key to long term business success.

Because a great experience generates referrals AND repeat business. Selling is service and service is selling.

For me basing a business on customer service isn’t just the secret to financial success, it’s the secret to human success.

I think we’ve reached a time where businesses are being forced to define success with a more human component. Shareholders, employees and consumers are demanding new definitions of business success, which ironically, lead to greater financial success.

The holy grail of business success isn’t the sale, it’s the repeat sale.

Interestingly enough, some of the most seriously successful business people in the world don’t define success as the size of their considerable fortunes. For Barack Obama and Bill Gates it’s about making a difference in someone’s life, for Richard Branson and Maya Angelou it’s about enjoying what you do and how happy you are. For me it’s about helping people be more successful personally and professionally.

What’s your definition of business success? Do your KPIs include human factors like customer experience?