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Is NPS outdated and irrelevant?

Net Promoter Score

The Pros and Cons of Net Promoter Score

Companies across the globe continue to recognize that superior customer experiences yield greater business results, resulting in brand loyalty while driving revenue growth. When it comes to market share, losing the Customer Experience (CX) race can be detrimental for a business.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become a common tool to measure the state of an organization’s CX in an effort to improve customer service. It has become a measurement tool that’s widely recognized and increasingly adopted by organizations globally to understand a customer’s sentiment and loyalty towards a brand, as well as whether they are more or less likely to promote the company.

How it Works

The NPS system seeks to measure not just customer satisfaction, but it gauges whether customers like your company so much that they’d tell their friends about it. It asks one question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [Organization X] to a friend or colleague?”

Customers are asked to rate their answers on a 0-10 scale, which is divided up into three categories:
“Detractors,” “Passives,” and “Promoters.”
0 – 6: Detractors
7 – 8: Passives
9-10: Promoters

But can one question really provide enough detailed information to create a CX strategy? Some executives say no.

Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of NPS:

Pro: The NPS system is easy to use

The NPS online poll does not require a statistician to administer it. The example survey question is based around one idea, whether your customers like your company enough to recommend it, and often includes a few follow-up survey questions to understand why people would recommend/would not recommend your brand. You can easily send it out to customers through email or post on your website.

Pro: The NPS is great for management

When management is looking for an easy, big-picture gauge of customer loyalty, the NPS works. Not only do Net Promoter Scores help a company see how it’s doing against the competition, but managers can use it to see how one department’s services are doing against other departments. For example, does the tech service division receive higher scores than the field-service department? If so, how can the company improve so that all of the departments are getting equal, high scores?

Pro: The NPS uses a common language to classify customers

The NPS questionnaire breaks scores down into three customer categories: Promoters, Detractors, and Passives. The categories make it easy to classify a customer’s level of loyalty, and it gives everyone in your company the same language when referring to customers. Do you have a large group of Promoters who you should rally to post reviews or participate in a focus group? Are there Detractors who you need to assign someone to do follow-up work with? The system makes it easy to tell customers apart.

Pro: The NPS system is correlated with increased business growth

Numerous studies, including those conducted by the Harvard Business Review, Satmetrix, and Bain & Company have found a strong correlation between high Net Promoter Scores and revenue. The research shows that when companies adopt the NPS question, and use it as a key metric, it helps drive business growth as the company becomes more focused on improving the score.

Con: NPS is too simplistic

The NPS scale accounts for only three types of customers: ‘promoters’, ‘passives’, and ‘detractors’, and is based on a simple survey question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” Customers who give an organization a score of 9 or 10 are known as ‘promoters’, while those who provide a score of 6 or under are called ‘detractors’. An organization’s score is calculated by subtracting promoters from detractors, ignoring customers that give a score of 7 or 8, who are known as passives.

Not only is this question simple and vague, it fails to provide any insight or necessary information to interpret the opinion held by customers. It lacks detail and prevents organizations from actioning feedback in real time.

Because it is very difficult to understand a customer’s journey from the inside, organizations need to be investing in measurement tools that enable them to gain an in-depth perspective to really find out where their CX is failing.

Con: Without a plan in place to act on the results, the survey won’t help your business

Sending out a NPS questionnaire is a great first step to understanding customer loyalty, but to really make the NPS system effective, you need to be prepared with a follow-up plan. If your scores come back really low what is your next step? Will you send out more detailed surveys to pinpoint the issues? Make sure you map out a customer experience plan to address any issues your Net Promoter Scores reveal.

Solution: Implement more detailed follow-up questions

Every smart implementation follows up with a qualitative question, asking why? Some systems will even vary the questions based on the score, asking things likes “What did we do well?” and “What could we improve?” The real value is the Why answer. The customer tells you what just happened and how you could improve it. We add these Why questions to gather intuitive data, which allows a more specific game plan for future customer experience  success.

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How Customer Service Affects Your Brand

Poor Service

 

High-quality customer service is essential to growing your brand and setting your company apart from the competition. When a customer has a bad experience, you can be sure their friends, families and colleagues will know about it faster than ever thanks to the internet. Customer service is the human face, or voice, of your brand so make the first interaction a positive one.

Customer service is dangerous to undervalue, because bad experiences can ruin brands, sometimes in irrecoverable ways. So before you cut costs by cutting through the customer service budget, think about these ways that the quality of customer service affects the value of your brand.
1. It’s how you’re remembered.
Customers tend to remember their poor customer service experiences more than their positive ones, meaning a bad image is harder to shift. Ruby Newell-Legner, author of Understanding Customers, asserts that 12 positive experiences are necessary to make up for just one unresolved negative one. So aim to get it right the first time.

2. It’s a statement about your business.
Your customer service reflects on your entire business. People assume that if your customer service is good or bad then your product or service is too. As a business owner, you should adopt the same attitude, devoting time and money to your support team just as you would your product or sales. Lowe’s home improvement store makes sure employees are everywhere and eager to help. More than just pointing customers in the right direction, Lowe’s employees are knowledgeable in all aspects of home improvement and can provide personalized tips for customers. The company has repeatedly won awards for its top customer service and satisfaction.

3. Make it easy on the customer.
If you reduce the effort it takes for customers to get in touch with you, you’re simultaneously making it easier for them to purchase from you. Add contact forms on your site and customer service tools in your app. Provide an FAQ page. Don’t make your phone number impossible to find. Place interaction opportunity directly into their hands and you’ll ultimately guide them from interaction to purchase.

4. It’s a profitable marketing strategy.
Word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing. When your customers speak favorably and widely about your business, they are doing more for your brand than any advertising can do. Promote your company’s customer satisfaction standards by using customer testimonials and happiness ratings to show just how much you do for your client base. If you can get customers to sing your praises of their free will, you’ve hit the jackpot.

5. Your competitors are always watching.
Undervaluing customer service is a risky strategy because there’s always a competitor who’s doing the opposite. An American Express survey found that a staggering 78% of consumers have backed out of a transaction or failed to make an intended purchase because of sub-par customer service. If you don’t have the tools in place to make doing business with your business easy, customers will quickly find an alternative.

6. It directly affects retention.
Keeping hold of current customers costs considerably less than attracting new ones. Retention matters—big time. On average, loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase, but that worth won’t pan out unless you prioritize customer success. An experienced client who sticks with you means reduced efforts for you in the long run.

For these reasons, you should consider customer service an important part of your training and budget. It’s a vital part of your branding efforts. Your customer service representatives are the face of your brand that buyers interact with, so they need to be the best!

 

Customer Service

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Service with a Smile

customer service

Customer service training is one of the smartest investments a company can make…

Ever talked to a phone representative who was anything but helpful? Or asked a retail employee for help only to feel like you are inconveniencing them? As the old saying goes, good help is hard to find.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With proper training, companies can make sure their employees provide service with a smile—and make customers smile in return.

 

Customer Service as a Key Value

Consider customer service as an ongoing process, not just a one-time training, similar to the approach used by Quicken Loans. “Quicken Loans’ culture is built on core values that every team member is encouraged to conduct themselves by every day. One key value is serving ‘every client, every time, no exceptions, no excuses,’” says the Quicken Loans Training team. “Our Assurance team, which more than doubled in size in 2012, ensures team members have the skills needed to uphold this by providing ongoing coaching and positive enforcement when team members are speaking with clients. The key to training top bankers is reinforcing their skills and letting them know we care by not only highlighting the things they do RIGHT, but providing constructive criticism when they fall short on delivering excellent client service.”

The company also uses client feedback to provide insight into areas where they can improve. “Any time we receive feedback from one of our clients, we analyze the type of comments we receive for trends that then can be solved,” the Training team notes.

 

How to Measure Successful Service

To gain a client-based perspective, U.S. Security Associates, Inc. utilizes detailed customer feedback surveys that specifically address levels of customer service satisfaction. “To increase our overall performance, we must be able to identify the improvement opportunities available, as well as the successes we have achieved,” says Jonathan Jones, manager of organizational development. “Measurement is foundational to our goal setting and organizational accomplishment. The primary metrics the company correlates with customer service training include client retention, additional service requests by current clients, and client referrals.

“We also conduct client meetings on a weekly basis,” says Jones. “The client meetings and evaluation process are designed to measure how well our customer service and performance is meeting our clients’ ever-changing needs.”

 

service with a smile

Committing to Superior Customer Service

Treating customer service as an essential commitment is another way to increase the satisfaction of your customers. At Vi, an operator of continuing care retirement communities and home health care, all new employees receive a service commitment handbook and training is reinforced during the orientation period through classroom learning, online courses, and custom videos. In addition, Vi provides annual customer service training to all employees and offers service refresher training on professional telephone skills, managing difficult conversations, maximizing resident engagement, and resolving resident issues and concerns.

James Edwartoski, executive director, Vi at Aventura, points to the company’s customer service recognition program, which he says was a direct outcome from Vi’s 2010 employee satisfaction survey. “Employees have received this program with enthusiasm, and they feel they have a much more direct impact on how employees are recognized for customer service,” he notes.

 

Multifaceted Customer Service Solutions

The Rollins Corporation provides its subsidiary, Orkin, with training curricula in which customer service training is not just a stand-alone topic, but is part of the fabric of almost all field training programs. “One of the most successful customer service training programs in 2012 was the Orkin Promise, which was required training for all service employees,” says Training Director Craig Goodwin. “The Orkin Promise was a blended solution consisting of a 20-minute video-on-demand, featuring Orkin’s president and a fully scripted manager-led lesson, allowing the location manager to provide the corporate message while localizing content to meet specific service protocols.”

The Orkin Promise focuses on four areas of customer service that customers said have the greatest impact on their satisfaction and loyalty:

  1. Showing respect
  2. Accepting responsibility
  3. Delivering effective service
  4. Communicating effectively

Jiffy Lube International uses a similarly multifaceted approach to train employees in the art of customer service. “We incorporate customer service into every training course. We try to emphasize the customer, not the vehicle. Changing the focus has helped us change the culture at JL,” says Manager of Training and Development Kenneth Barber. “Jiffy Lube conducts thousands of mystery shops and customer phone surveys every month. The data is collected and tracked monthly, quarterly, and annually.

 

How to Start

If you want a stronger focus on customer service, start with these tips:

  • Measure your employees’ level of customer service via customer feedback on surveys, through email or with forms.
  • Use the expertise of successful customer service-oriented employees, encouraging them to mentor co-workers.
  • Make customer service a key part of your new hire training, asking all employees to make a commitment to providing a high level of service. Consider creating a form they have to read and sign stating their promise to exceed customer expectations as part of their employment requirements.
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