It was fifty years ago that those mop-headed pop princes from Liverpool released “Do You Want to Know a Secret”, one of their most memorable songs. But who would have thought that Lennon and McCartney were really experts on customer experience? Yes, that’s right – some of these famous songs like “Love Me Do” and “From Me To You” have subtexts that if you know how to read the clues are really exhortations for today’s organisations to carefully collect and act on customer comments.
Incredible as it may seem, many organisations that spend millions on customer feedback just sit on these valuable comments. Too often, valuable feedback is locked up in paper based documents collecting dust on a shelf, or buried in a spreadsheet on a marketing department laptop. It’s such a waste.
Marketing departments need to take a lesson from George Harrison’s plea: “Closer, let me whisper in your ear, Say the words you long to hear…” and share the comments widely! Perhaps these companies do not employ Beatles fans.
Let’s examine the early work of the Beatles to help us understand what customers are looking for. “Please Please Me” is a simple statement of customer wants. How often? John’s vocals on “Eight Days a Week”, explain in a tongue-in-cheek way that those needs can never be satisfied in a way we would refer to today as “24-7″. We also learn that servicing customers will not be easy. Later in their career, we are warned of this in the 1969 track “The Long and Winding Road”.
“With Love from Me To You”
A modern interpretation of the Beatles lyrics is a sign to implement a Net Promoter® Score program. This can provide a constant stream of objective data, plus raw feedback from usually a large percentage of engaged customers. It’s one thing to hope of a high Net Promoter Score – some practitioners dream of a day “When I’m Sixty Four” but the only way to get there is to read and act on customer comments. Again, Paul referred to this in the 1966 classic Paperback Writer: “Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?”
We have found that is rare for research departments to share these gold nuggets of knowledge, but by publishing comments internally, employees can get a unfiltered view of customer comments.
“Speaking Words Of Wisdom”
How to do this? Taking advice from John and Paul in A Day in the Life – “I read the news today, oh boy…” – we know we must use comments in a timely fashion, and ideally immediately. To do this CustomerGauge has developed a system to pull comments out of our live platform in real time. As soon as a survey is completed, the comment can be distributed anywhere in the organisation. With some simple coding skills it’s possible to display comments on any site, format or style.
“I Wanna Hold Your Hand”
But we are reminded about time management in 1964s “Hard Day’s Night”. No one wants to work like a dog, so was it possible to develop a system that needed no technical skills to work? That was the challenge we set our development team, and the answer was a self contained hosted solution that can be deployed by pasting in just one line of HTML code in a web page. What’s more, the team built a very cool configuration screen to change size, colours etc. This is perfect for an internet application, for instance a Microsoft SharePoint site. You can visualise this on our “Scrolling Comment Carousel” example. Add a comment on a demo survey here, and see the result immediately.
“I Want to Tell You”
John reminds us in “You’ve got to hide your love away” that we cannot always reveal everything publicly. We have a solution for this – our team built a comment publisher that allows you to approve or reject comments for general display. Combined with a flexible filter (Promoters Only, or specific segments) it is possible to screen customer feedback to show only appropriate content. You should consider this for a public website, especially e-commerce, where you can easily show pages and pages of comments to help reassure customers. The example of what we call a “Testimonial Page” is here.
The results of sharing comments can make an organisation more customer focused. Your aim is to prevent customer defections as described beautifully in the singles “Hello Goodbye” (a song about acquisition and retention problems) and in both “You’re going to lose that Girl” and “Ticket To Ride“, John is clearly defining the danger of “customer churn” by females.
Taking notes from “We can work it out” with its excellent lessons in empathy, the Fab Four caution that “There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long“, which is usually considered in the Net Promoter community as a lesson in responding promptly to customer messages. Fortunately it is Ringo that provides sage advice on organisational teamwork in his vocal on “With a little help from my friends”. CustomerGauge have a solution for this in our teamworking “FireFighting Module“. Interestingly, most experts now believe that that the reference “I get high with…” is a reference to improving satisfaction scores.
To learn more about how to “Come Together” with your customers, do contact our operations team to arrange demonstration, and avoid becoming the “Fool on the Hill”.
Next week we continue the musical theme in “Hey You Get Off My Cloud” – 7 tips on SaaS security from The Rolling Stones.
Net Promoter News: A Nation of Shopkeepers say “Meh” to Points Cards but #1′s Waitrose, Accuray enters loyalty zone, Earnings ‘n’ NPS from Aviva, Hertz, Overstock, Bank Montreal plus Doxim’s self-promo fails advocacy test
British shoppers think loyalty cards are past “Best Before” date
What drives loyalty among shoppers? This week a Net Promoter survey across 1,200 British shoppers was released – with some eye-opening results.
While you may think cost-effectiveness was a sure way to driving loyalty, the brand with the most loyal customers was premium supermarket chain Waitrose. [Check out our previous Waitrose coverage]
Based on that, it might be reasonable to assume that customer service and quality were the main drivers of loyalty. Well, sort of. In fact, the biggest driver of loyalty was “Good price for good quality,” followed by “Customer service; product quality.” But that doesn’t mean cheap prices aren’t important – discount supermarket Aldi was second on the ladder, not far behind Waitrose.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the survey surrounded loyalty cards. Despite the name, they don’t seem to be effective. Loyalty card pioneer The Co-operative Group, has the least loyal customers, and Tesco, which operates the mammoth-sized Clubcard scheme, has the third least. By contrast, Waitrose has only recently launched a loyalty card initiative.
These were the key findings, but also intriguing for us Net Promoter junkies are a few observations on the supermarket chains’ Net Promoter scores against their overall business performance. Not only did Waitrose and Aldi record the best and second best scores respectively, they have been among the two fastest-growing grocery retail chains in recent years. The Co-op, which scored -14, sacked hundreds of head office employees just last week. And Tesco, which scored -8, recently gave its first profit warning in 20 years.
Of course, Net Promoter Scores and business performance are not always in sync. But we believe there is more than a little truth in an independent 2005 study by the London School of Economics which was quoted in the article. The study found that Net Promoter “may be useful not only in predicting sales growth but, also predicting share performance and employee productivity”.
If that’s the case, I think I just felt Tesco shudder. Those scores in full:
|Store||Net Promoter Score|
|Marks & Spencer||-10|
|Source: Grocer/Satmetrix Mar 2012||The Grocer|
Big Data Analytics and the role of Net Promoter
The rise of big data has been the subject of much discussion over the last few years, as businesses try to capture, analyze, and capitalize from it.
Bernard Marr, author of a book on the topic called “The Intelligent Company” suggested in a post this week that while traditional KPIs will remain vital tools to chart business strategy, they will increasingly be supported by analysis of “big data” – such as unstructured conversations across social media networks or search engine keywords.
He suggests that increasingly, companies may utilize tested metrics such as Net Promoter to assess advocacy and loyalty among a group of customers, but supplement this with big data analysis, such as social media analysis of the conversations around the product or brand on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
We have long been firm advocates of a customer-centric approach to business, and therefore what we like about this approach is that it sensibly places your relationship with your customers at the centre of your strategy. Despite the changes brought about by big data, sometimes the fastest route to nurturing delighted customers is by asking them one simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” Smart Data Collective [Editors note: Bernard Marr has "75 measures every manager needs to know" but Adam Dorrell of CustomerGauge bests him by two in "77 Essential Metrics"]
Does a social media presence affect your Net Promoter Score?
The past few years have seen an enormous amount of noise (and some informative discussion) around the rise of social media, but what happens when a marketing-leading brand puts little or no effort into creating a corporate social media presence?
Conventional wisdom might tell you that the brand in question is missing out on an enormous opportunity. However, a post this week argues that beyond the hype, social media is just one medium through which customers interact with a brand. And if customers are consistently being delighted by that brand every time they interact with it, they will in turn advocate it to people around them – their friends, families, and social media communities.
According to the post author, automotive general manager Peter Anthony, the key takeaway is that corporate social media initiatives are not always necessary to achieving a high Net Promoter Score. (Note: While he cites Costco as an example to support his argument, we did find a Costco page on Facebook with nearly half a million fans, so we aren’t sure that the brand does not have a clear social media strategy.)
At any rate, we agree with the point, but we’d like to add a significant caveat. There may be a select few large, highly-advocated brands with enough positive momentum to rely on positive word-of-mouth buzz across social media channels to help generate advocacy. However, if you do not have a corporate presence on social media, that is one less channel you have to delight your customers and nurture new advocates.
In short, although for many brands there are risks associated with being on social media, the argument of whether to be in the space or not has already largely passed most of us by. The question for most companies now isn’t whether a social media affects your Net Promoter Score. Instead, it’s this: How can I nurture new advocates across my social media platforms? Peter Anthony’s blog
Accuray enters the loyalty zone
It’s another week, another NPS-based award for customer satisfaction as radiation oncology company Accuray Incorporated became the first company to receive Omega’s NorthFace ScoreBoard Award(SM) for excellence in customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Score.
This award system works on the Net Promoter Score’s basic principles. To be eligible, customers are surveyed a minimum of four times in the preceding year. However, rather than simply relying on the tried and tested NPS scale of zero to 10, Omega spins a little magic with the metric and converts it to a 5 point scale. Companies must achieve a score of 4.0 or above from their customers to receive the NFSB Award.
While we are not a fan of the mechanism or reasons for converting NPS to another scale, the basic principles of the award methodology seem sound, and we particularly like the fact that customers are surveyed four times in the preceding year. According to Omega, companies that average over 4.0 in their scale are in the so-called “Loyalty Zone,” and this ensures that they are “locking in profitable, long-term customer relationships.” But hey hey Accuray, what’s wrong with just sticking to the 0 – 10 scale? The Sacramento Bee
Doxim’s self-promotion fails the advocacy test
Last week we took a look at an announcement by virtual data room company V-Rooms that it had achieved an “A+” Net Promoter Score. While we weren’t sure exactly what that was, we were very enthusiastic about the tangible, clear steps the company is taking to further improve on its customer service.
This week, cloud-based enterprise content management firm Doxim has announced its “record Net Promoter Score” of 63 – an admirable figure, but a puffy piece of self-promotion that still leaves us feeling like we’ve just watched a nil-all draw.
Where V-Rooms focuses on the future and getting even better, Doxim discusses the past and how they compared to now. While V-Rooms drew a clear line of differentiation between their competitors, which are cutting down on customer service costs, Doxim compares its scores to global companies such as Sony, Google, Amazon and Apple – none of which are direct competitors and for which comparison is mildly interesting at best.
To wrap it up: Kudos on your score, Doxim. But what’s next? PR Web
Finance and NPS – A round up of recent company filings that mention Net Promoter.
Aviva PLC 2011 – reporting in London, Andrew Moss, Group Chief Executive Aviva said: “Last year more of our customers were willing to recommend us than ever before. We improved our customer satisfaction measure, Net Promoter Score(TM), last year and now more than half of our businesses operate in the upper quartile relative to local competition”. And in the UK: “Customer satisfaction levels and employee engagement have increased, with customer complaints down 20% in 2011. We’ve been changing the way we look after our customers by simplifying our processes and making them more customer-friendly. In our existing annuity business this has delivered a 26 point improvement in our Transactional Net Promoter Score(TM), achieved significant cost savings and helped reduce call volumes by around 20%.” Marketwatch
By the way, found on the web, really nice Net Promoter story from Andrew Moss, at Henley Business School June 2011. “…And when we look at our customer metrics, it’s an amazing thing but, here in the UK, our best net promoter score, which is how we measure customer satisfaction, is in our Death Claims Unit in York. So, how we deal with people in that very difficult situation, it’s amazing how people appreciate it if you really do deal with them like a human being” Aviva
Telecom Italia Adopt NPS (from Q4 2011 Earnings) “Move to our goals for the Mobile business… progressively shift customer care to self caring and adopt net promoter scoring across our organization to gauge customer preferences….” Seeking Alpha
Metro PCS (Q4 2011 Earnings call). Interesting as it’s in an answer to an analyst – shows that the COO understands NPS: Thomas C. Keys: “That’s a great question, Michael. The first thing is you’re asking me to give up a little bit of the secret sauce, so I’ll be happy to do that. [...] That works on the viral nature of how we advertise, at how we move a product, keeps our CPGA lower. It keeps our net promoter score higher…. ” SeekingAlpha
Bank Montreal Q1 2012 “This business continues to perform well with volumes higher across most products, and we continue to innovate in the execution of our strategy, achieving higher net promoter scores and increasing share of wallet” SeekingAlpha
Overstock Q4 2011. Report Net Promoter of 52 (see graph) “Customer, net promoter score has, slide 20, has still remained sort of astronomically high compared to retail in general. I just saw another scoring service came out and it put us right at the very top, we scored an 83, well, on another scoring service.” Seeking Alpha. and Slides
H&R Block (Q3 2012) “Additionally, our retention and Net Promoter Scores are up 150 and 400 basis points, respectively, demonstrating sustained improvement in 2 of our most important metrics.” Seeking Alpha, and Slides
I was recently in a meeting with a new client talking about how to best use customer feedback from their just-launched Net Promoter® initiative. We were looking at real comments coming in real time through their CustomerGauge systems. And that’s when one of members of the customer service group exclaimed that he just realised “after looking at all of these comments in depth, I now see how we could use these customers as unpaid business consultants!”. It was as if the scales had lifted from his eyes.
I thought about this for a minute and realized that he had discovered by himself the change management shift from the norm.
If we ask most customer service employees of companies what they think of their customers, the expletives will soon start to fly and the summary is sometimes “customers are pains in the XXX!”. Contrary to the website banners and company mission statement praising the company’s attention to customer service most companies still think of customers as “problems to deal with”.
If we think about customers as resources first, then we can start to think of how we can best “use” our customers to help us. This simple shift in mind-set can make huge changes in the way we deal and think about our customers. Following the Golden rule of Net Promoter® score, “treat your customers as you would like to be treated” coupled with the idea that customers are resources we expect the following type of information to come from our customers for free!
- Identifying process improvements: who better to identify issues with current business practices than the recipients? Customers will let you know when your systems, processes and people are not working as advertised.
- Providing testimonials: there are ones that have fantastic experiences and are willing to tell you if you ask. Using these testimonials on your website and marketing materials is a great way to promote the firm without saying anything.
- Suggest improvements: companies are amazed when they start to ask their customers what they think what information they get back. Many times customers will give insightful ideas for product improvements that can be passed directly to R&D.
- Ideas is for product extensions: just like improvements customers will suggest new products with similar attributes that can be passed to product marketing to design new SKUs
- Extending your marketing reach: with social media platforms today like twitter and Facebook advocates for your products have simple ways to tell thousands of people in seconds about their experience.
In case this is not something you are working on, CustomerGauge allows companies to quickly and continuously survey all of their customers asking the standard Net Promoter Score question and allowing for comments/self-select issues. Using the system’s features companies can route different type responses to the correct departments for immediate action.
A word to the wise: When you start to use customer feedback in this way, have the courtesy to let you customers know, and thank them! That’s when you can really start to build customer loyalty. So harvest your customers, don’t ignore them!
Rob Markey from Bain suggested in his blog that the Net Promoter® Score could be visualised with a “Wall of Emoticons”. So we cooked up a free tool to help Net Promoter professionals create an image on the fly. Useful? Want more like this? Let us know…
We provide several ways to take data out of CustomerGauge and display in Real-Time.
- RSS XML feed (described below)
- Twitter Feed
- XML API (documentation coming soon)
- Real Time Display board in browser
RSS XML Feed
The RSS feed is ideal for a simple feed of customer comments for a testimonial feed, external website or intranet application. In this format only comment, score and date is given, so it can be reasonably widely published. No customer attributable data is published (unless revealed in comment box).
For more flexible feeds we recommend our XML API feed (documentation available soon).
The RSS feed file is generated each hour. It always shows 10 comments (the last 10 comments left, sorted by most recent). The number of comments can be adjusted on request.
Feed shows NPS Score, Comment, Date Comment Left
NPS score: <title>10</title>
Comment: <description>Great service. Thanks</description>
Date comment left: <pubDate>2010-04-13 08:04:26</pubDate>
Standard feed is secured with User Name and Password. You can put in a user name/password on most readers. For automated applications (intranet feeds etc) you would use CURL at your feed reader to access.
<title>CustomerGauge Comment Feed</title>
<description>Intranet Comment Feed</description>
<description>Great service. Thanks</description>
<source>Comment for customer ID xxxx from xxxxxxxxx Online Shop, powered by CustomerGauge</source>
Please send comments to API@directness.net
How to format data for import into CustomerGauge b2c
You can format data in several ways for CustomerGauge. For the b2c application, it is expected that there will be an automatic upload each day or week.
- FTP (you automate sending of file to our Secure FTP site) - preferred
- Email (we supply a special email address for you to send the file to)
- Manual import (from within the CustomerGauge application you can upload a file)
- API – one transaction at a time (used for checkout or similar) or multiple record upload (coming soon)
- XML – preferred (DOWNLOAD example CustomerGaugeImportTemplateJune2010xml.txt) – updated 22 June 2010 with multiple ITEMs per RECORD
- CSV or TXT (see XLS download)
- XLS (DOWNLOAD CustomerGaugeImportTemplate22Mar2010.xls)
- within API (coming soon)
Typically the data file used is from an e-commerce system. Records are sometimes formatted as multiple lines per sales order (if more than one item per line). We can adjust the import template to account for that. CustomerGauge “de-duplicates” data, so you need not worry about sending a file twice.
We can accept just a few fields if available. Mandatory fields are:
However, most clients send a very rich feed. If you can supply, we can accept around different 20 segment fields (and report on them).
We already have pre-built connectors for many systems including SAP, DigitalRiver, Magento etc. Please enquire on how we can help you.
Our occasional feature showcasing links to NPS-deniers. This week, Flat-Earther Augustine Fou gamely argues the view “What’s wrong with the Net Promoter Score”. Plenty of (well-informed) pro-NPS heckling follows in the comments, with even the author repenting: “… I will definitely grant that some clients may be able to use NPS, given a deep understanding of what it can and cannot do.”
*Researchism: A new term that I just made up referring to the quasi-religious beliefs of some market research professionals that the Net Promoter Score is pure Evil, and that a proprietary scoring system derived from 40-question questionnaire is better than any other surveying system. A form of business creationism, probably done to protect a revenue stream rather than helping clients.
Small round up of today’s Net Promoter Related articles:
Razorfish-er Shiv Singh lists ten Trends in Social Influence Marketing. In at lucky number seven he states: “Social influence research will become more important than social measurement… There’s going to be an evolution from measuring sentiment to understanding opinion and synchronizing it with the Net Promoter scores. Why? Because marketers care about opinion much more than they do about sentiment.” Agree or disagree with your “friendsters” here.
Pain into Gain
Forbes.com CMO Network has a feature article called “Turning Customer Pain Into Customer Gain” from Donovan Neale-May who writes that care and handling of customers is more important now than ever.
News at Ten headlines: Customer influence and expectations are higher than ever. Good news/bad news travels faster than ever. But most companies are deaf to this – and should react to improve brand and Net Promoter scores. CMOs should take the lead in customer experience as there is money left on the table (but many CMOs do not understand importance). Shocking stats: 76% marketers thought they could squeeze more revenue from existing customers. Less than 50% had good stats on retention rates, customer profitability and lifetime value – even less so in real-time. Solutions include finding the most loyal advocates and help them tell others. Good news: Companies that understand customers better can increase customer lifetime value. Source: Forbes.com
Seems the major electronics companies have Valentine’s Day on their minds…
Some examples of manufacturers D2C (direct to consumer) email marketing I’ve recently received from the online shops of Casio, Panasonic, Sony, Philips, Apple.
PRESS RELEASE: Directness BV, a company that measures customer satisfaction, announced today (1 April 2008) a new service named “ChokeyGauge” to extend its CustomerGauge range. Like CustomerGauge, ChokeyGauge will measure loyalty – although in this case it is less “Voice of Customer”, more “Voice of Prisoner”. The results will be shown in a new metric named “Net Perpetrator Score” (NPS) based on the industry standard Net Promoter® Score* (NPS).
“Following the tradition of surveys in the hotel business, we are delighted to launch a service for other, more travel-challenged members of society. They can vote on how likely they are to recommend their place of incarceration to other fellow cons, lags and jailbirds” said Adam Dorrell, Managing Director of Directness.
Directness was approached by a well-connected (but publicity shy) family wishing to have a common method of comparing standards in prisons. The sponsored survey was paid in advance by the Criminals Association for Standardisation and Harmonisation (CASH).
Avril Pfuhl, spokeswoman for the pressure group Justice for Obsessive Kleptomanics and Embezzlers said “Today marks a turning point for those ‘doing time’. Whether you are guest of the Hilton Hotel, or just of Her Majesty, customer feedback is valuable. Even if they have limited choices, feedback comments on hardness of beds, shower facilities, exercise options and food will surely improve conditions in ‘the ‘Big House’ for returning inmates. And remember, a smile costs nothing.”
A sample survey can be seen here, together with some selected comments from former inmates: ChokeyGauge