Net Promoter News: AT&T’s Net Promoter fail, Travel Counsellors advise trust, Southwest customer experience flies north
AT&T scores marketing campaign success, Net Promoter FAIL
AT&T had a problem – a low NPS among young Asian American males. In order to increase loyalty, it sent out regular surveys and included a follow up question. It used root cause analysis and implemented a closed feedback loop to incrementally improve its offering, increase loyalty, and drive positive WOM and sales.
Actually, according to a post this week, instead of doing any of this, AT&T conscripted a marketing agency to drive up its score. interTrend Communications, an agency that helps brands connect with Asian Americans, created a cheesy whimsical web series with a crowd-sourced storyline called Away We Happened. The series heavily features AT&T, has received over 6 million views so far, and won an Effie in the process. Oh, and AT&T’s NPS dramatically increased from -11 to +39.
By many metrics, the campaign is a success. But using Net Promoter as a measure of success is misplaced. We may be preaching to the converted here, but Net Promoter is a system that has its strength in listening to customer feedback, making incremental customer-focused improvements in the organisation, and (sustainably) increasing scores and revenue over time.
In a worst-case scenario, a quantum leap in NPS such as this can obscure underlying customer service problems underneath the sugar rush of new Promoters. And unless feedback collection, analysis and closing the loop are embedded in the organisation, there is the danger of an equally swift drop in scores, with corresponding negative WOM and loss of market share or revenue. Marketing
Travel Counsellors advise trust
Travel Counsellors is an exemplar of travel industry trust and innovation and owner of possibly the world’s highest NPS. But whereas much discussion around Net Promoter focuses on customer service and loyalty, the key driver for Travel Counsellors’ growth is agent recruitment.
That’s not to say that customer relationships are not important, of course – according to chairman David Speakman, “We look after all the laborious admin so the individual ‘travel counsellor’ is left to build their own business by building relationships. TripAdvisor is the electronic mode of advice but it’s referred to; not trusted. We build our business on trust.” Insider Media
Southwest customer experience flies north
Southwest Airlines use of Net Promoter has helped propel it to one of the leading positions in terms of customer experience among American airlines.
According to a company rep, “We segment [Net Promoter Scores] by airports, but can also further refine the analysis by buying behavior, such as loyal or frugal customers. By looking at the scores, our employees can see where they need to step up.”
While Southwest is clearly on the right course, there is some possible turbulence up ahead. According to rival JetBlue, its leading NPS among US airlines gives it a “huge advantage” over its rivals. Forbes
- According to YouGov, the Apple App Store has the highest NPS of any app market place in Germany, and 84% of iPhone users regularly download chargeable apps. GooglePlay is visited by more users by percentage of market share, but only 58% of them regularly download chargeable apps. Telecom Paper
- Australian dealer groups have been advised to use Net Promoter to get a better understanding of advisers’ satisfaction with their services. Money Management
- TeleTech has conducted a test to find out whether delivering an exceptional customer experience as measured by NPS positively impacts sales, and had a positive result. TeleTech
Net Promoter News: Private tops NHS in UK, LawnAmerica cuts competitors’ grass, Banks v Credit Unions: 67 point gap, Vanguard +70, H&R Block up 5
Private franchise blows NHS competitors out of the water
Much ado has been made of the UK Government’s initiative to use Net Promoter (rebranded as the “Friends and Family” test) to measure customer advocacy in the National Health Service. After many weeks of commentary (not to mention punditry), NHS Midlands and East is the first region to publish results.
The most interesting finding for our UK friends was that the joint “winner” in terms of scores is Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, which is not a publicly managed facility – it has been run by private provider healthcare provider Circle since February. According to the HSJ: “Circle won a £1bn 10-year contract to run Hinchingbrooke in November, making it the first ever non-state provider to deliver a full range of NHS district general hospital services when the contract began earlier this year. Patient safety, patient experience, staff engagement and value for money were set out by Circle as its four priorities…”
Is this a case of private enterprise offering a demonstrably and measurably better level of care, or are there flaws in the method? Stay tuned as we keep an eye out for more on the topic in coming weeks. Health Service Journal (subscription)
LawnAmerica cuts competitors’ grass
Many businesses incentivize employees, but few do it with the zeal and dedication of LawnAmerica. An article in industry publication Lawn & Landscape claims the company has 15 performance categories for its route managers alone – each one with a customized performance spreadsheet.
Besides this, the company tracks everything from production goals to cancellation rates, with one important metric being Net Promoter – for which the business scores in the high +70s.
The measurements are backed up with robust incentives. Besides a number of short-term bonuses, 25 per cent of annual profits are placed into a pool and shared with employees based on their yearly pay, which means that employees that perform better during the year also stand to gain more at the end of the year. All in all, bonuses can account for an eye-popping 40 per cent of employees’ salaries.
This system has paid outstanding dividends all the way to the bottom line – LawnAmerica has grown every year since it was founded in 199 – even through the last recession – and is on track for 18% sales growth year on year in 2012. To pile glory upon glory, the company boasts impressive employee and customer retention rates. Imperfections? You’ll have to read the full article, but we have to agree the downside is limited. Lawn and Landscape
Banks “stunningly low”, but credit unions still have work to do
Banks in the Northwest of the US received some chilling news this weekend – according to a survey of 867 respondents commissioned by the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA), their collective Net Promoter Score was -17. (It should be noted that the survey included 477 credit union members and 390 non-members – kudos to the NWCUA for being so transparent with this information.)
In stark contrast, credit unions scored a significantly stronger +49.6.
The yawning chasm between the two may suggest to punters that bank customers are all but falling over themselves in their mad dash to the superior service and customer care offered by credit unions. However, this is not the case. According to Dr. Neil Goldman, who was responsible for the research, “You can be completely disloyal and still be satisfied.”
He believes that despite the gap, credit unions have to do more to differentiate their service and product offerings in order to reach their growth potential. Northwest Credit Union Association
Vanguard marketer fights for pennies
In an era when financial services firms are in the news for all the wrong reasons (see the banks above), investment-management firm Vanguard differentiates itself by operating all of its funds at cost. In practice this means that all outgoings are constantly under the microscope, and for head of retail advertising and prospect marketing Michael Ma, it means he has a responsibility to show that advertising lowers rather than increases expenses.
In terms of advocacy at least, this strategy appears to be driving strong results – for current investors, the firm has Net Promoter Scores in the +70s. AdAge
Travel Counsellors launches “TC score”
Customer advocacy rock stars Travel Counsellors, generally accepted as owner of some of the highest Net Promoter Scores on the planet, have launched a program based on Net Promoter to monitor client loyalty among corporate travel clients that they call “TC Score”.
Managing Director Steve Byrne comments; “By increasing the scope of our TC Score scheme to cover business travel our agents can quantify the nature of their client relationships, plus used as a marketing tool the results can help to demonstrate the value of their travel service to new and existing clients.” E Travel Blackboard
H&R Block announces earnings and improved NPS
Tax specialists H&R Block briefly mentioned an improvement in its Net Promoter Score in its Q4 2012 Earnings Call. “Our Net Promoter Score grew more than 500 basis points, and that this year’s marketing investment drove an 11 point increase in the awareness of our digital products…” said CEO William C. Cobb. Non-financiers may want to know that 500 basis points is what most people call “5 percent”. Seeking Alpha
“It’s all about the Why…”
CustomerGauge heroine Jackie Huba talks Net Promoter sense in this video clip on Dell’s Official Flickr Page. If you have not read her book “Creating Customer Evangelists” we can definitely recommend it… : Flickr
Net Promoter News: AppDynamics not ‘appy with 99% satisfaction, Travel Counsellors on trust ‘n innovation, Fullbridge claims +76, Vodacom dials No.1 NPS in ZA
AppDynamics goes after the final 1%
Application management biz AppDynamics has outlined its approach to measuring customer satisfaction in an informative blog post this week. According to the post, measuring your Net Promoter score is a great start – but it’s still only a start. The company also measures ticket resolution times and overall customer satisfaction via frequent online surveys. Interestingly, the company is not hung up on grading its customer satisfaction in a highly nuanced way.
“It’s in our nature to approach customer satisfaction from a binary perspective. In the case of customer satisfaction, it’s either “Good” or “Bad”. 99% of our customer responses are marked as “Good” and for the 1% that aren’t, our support team is committed to helping these customers until their issues are resolved properly and they’re fully satisfied.”
Since we are always eager to know a little more when a company makes big, impressive claims such as “99% of our customers are satisfied”, we thought a little research googling of AppDynamics and its purportedly excellent customer satisfaction claims was in order. The search yields links going back several years that consistently mention the company is focused on achieving 100% customer satisfaction results. And these results are backed up with extremely strong growth – the company recorded a 400% increase in growth in 2011.
AppDynamics’ NPS hovers around +73 – in a similar league to consumer tech heavyweight Apple. While these two companies are not direct competitors, it’s fair to say AppDynamics is in good company. Best of luck with the last 1% guys! AppDynamics
Travel Counsellors counsel trust and innovation
Travel Counsellors is a business famous in the world of Net Promoter for having reported scores of above +90. (See here for a recent News post on its wins in the Netherlands National Travel Awards.)
Commenting this week on the cornerstones of successful customer relationships in the travel industry, chairman David Speakman outlines two key points in which he believes Travel Counsellors offers a clear point of differentiation from its competitors.
The first is trust – in this case, trust on the part of the customer not just in terms of organisation, price, reliability, and other regular ways, but also in terms of looking after customer finances. By way of example, the company points to the collapse earlier this year of Air Australia, after which it reimbursed all affected customers who did not have travel insurance.
The second is innovation – Travel Counsellors provides its agents with its own constantly-evolving software in order to enable them to search and compare travel options with a maximum of efficiency. According to chairman David Speakman, “In a world that now demands personal recommendation and specialist insight into every journey our agents are given the support to build these personal relationships with their customers so they can tailor travel to suit their individual needs, whilst having access to the very best booking technology and a worldwide network of colleagues who can share first-hand knowledge across the globe.”
Travel Counsellors continues to post solid business growth – in Australia last financial year sales were up 14% on the previous year, with the average earnings per Travel Counsellor increasing by almost 20%. eTravelBlackboard
Fullbridge claims +76 among Ivy Leaguers
US education provider Fullbridge describes itself as a “high-end bootcamp” that helps students at top universities to attain the key skills that universities don’t provide them. This week the company announced a $5.5 million capital raising, following a successful rollout in January.
With graduate unemployment a significant problem in the US, it seems the concept has met with a considerable degree of enthusiasm. According to Fullbridge’s self-puffer, its inaugural program received a Net Promoter score of +76. No details about survey size or other information, however. Market Watch
Vodacom reports earnings rise, leading Net Promoter score
In South Africa, mobile service operator Vodacom has reported an 8% rise in headline earnings per share for the year ended March 2012. According to CEO Pieter Uys, the company’s customer base also expanded by 30%, and Vodacom achieved the number one Net Promoter score in South Africa and in two out of three measured international markets. Business Report
Net Promoter News: Voxeo’s Customer Obsession, Sprint Nextel, MetroPCS awkward on NPS, Dutch Travel Counsellors get gongs, NetDimensions adds NPS Dimension, RSC Boss +67
Voxeo outlines three major NPS-inspired initiatives
Interactive-voice house Voxeo has been driving other interesting initiatives in an effort to make the company even more customer-centric – a few weeks ago we noted with interest that it has embedded Net Promoter deeply into the company’s service mindset by tying results to employee bonuses and asking customers to rate their support calls.
In a very readable post on its corporate blog this week, Voxeo has taken the informative step of outlining three major initiatives that have been inspired by Net Promoter customer feedback. In brief, they are:
- Become a trusted adviser for clients’ businesses: Voxeo has entered into a number of partnerships that allow it to expand its offerings and areas of expertise, in addition to its employees being available to share their industry knowledge.
- Rather than simply letting its customers know about new Voxeo products first, the company wants to put in extra effort to educate them about product changes and enhancements long before they occur.
- Voxeo has introduced local web hosting servers in all US datacenters and augmented the business continuity information stored offline in its network operations.
We were amused by the slightly scary team name “Customer Obession Team”, but no denying the focus is there. For more details, pop over to Voxeo Talks.
Sprint Nextel and MetroPCS Communications Execs on Net Promoter Scores
Earlier this year at its Q4 earnings call, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse discussed the company’s strong Net Promoter momentum and noted that Sprint was the only one of the four major US carriers to show sequential improvement. Sounds promising, right?
This week Hesse once again brought up the company’s Net Promoter Score at its Q1 earnings call (slide 10 if you want to join in at home), mentioning that “Sprint is the only one of the four major wireless carriers to show improvement year-over-year.” We’re not sure if this is exactly the same thing, but analysts have noted that its earnings were something of a mixed bag. We look forward to the next call and seeing if a similar Net Promoter quote is offered once again! Seeking Alpha Sprint Nextel
American mobile phone service provider MetroPCS also brought up the metric, with a somewhat awkwardly-worded comment that in Q1 “the transition of our customer base is important as mature users now benefit from our new handset selection and remained loyal to our brand. We believe this loyalty continues to show itself in positive Net Promoter Scores that demonstrate the true viral nature and impact of our service in the communities that we operate in.” We’ve tried to sift the jargon but still not sure – does it simply mean the company has positive Net Promoter Scores? Or positive momentum? We’ll keep an eye out for more info. Seeking Alpha MetroPCS
Travel Counsellors Netherlands picks up three gongs
Family-owned travel operators Travel Counsellors have been awarded with ‘Best Travel Agency Group,’ ‘Most Popular Travel Agency’, and the overall award for the highest customer service score in their first appearance at the Zoover Awards (also known as the Netherlands National Travel Awards).
This very impressive result is not without precedent – in fact, Travel Counsellors regularly attains stratospheric Net Promoter Scores of over +90.
The company proudly talks about using Net Promoter® Score. From their site: “Two weeks after booking all customers are sent a simple question ‘How likely is it that you would recommend your Travel Counsellor to your friends and colleagues?’ “. If you’re curious to discover a little more about how the business has been so effective a creating arguably one of the most customer-centric operations globally, check out the link to see group chairman David Speakman discuss why he is a big advocate of creating a relationship-based approach to a transactional industry (video). Source: Travel Blackboard
NetDimensions adds Net Promoter Dimension
Learning technology supplier NetDimensions has unveiled a North American professional services portfolio aimed at maximizing clients’ value of their NetDimensions Talent Suite investment.
Commenting on the launch, Art Faccone, VP of professional services noted: “We are implementing the Net Promoter Score client satisfaction methodology across all client engagements in North America. Our goal is clearly to keep growing our differentiator, especially in an industry that is renowned for low satisfaction levels.” San Francisco Chronicle
RSC’s NPS stands at +67
Rental equipment provider RSC has announced its 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility report with a commendably detailed self-puffer. The release discusses its key initiatives and how these link back to stakeholder value, and notes that based on more than 23,000 customer survey responses in 2011, RSC’s Net Promoter Score was an excellent +67. Market Watch
Franchised tripperco TravelCounsellors climbed to a Net Promoter Score of 94 in early 2008 using a seven country metric. Each Travel Counsellor franchisee can see his/her score on company intranet. More from eTravelBlackboard (note that the reporter seems to have made an error in documenting NPS methodology)
Cherry-picksters NES Rentals do some heavy lifting to get to Net Promoter Score of 72, and trending higher says company spokesman according to Rental Equipment Register. With 15,000 surveys completed since March 2007, NES look set to reach 76 later this year. Recently rival RSC Rental announced NPS of 64 (enGaugement).
Brown-goodsters LG‘s Veep of Comms presents the LG Consumer Electronics Overview 2008, including some Net Promoter Scores of TVs. John Taylor quotes their mean Net Promoter Scores of 64 in LCD range, with a high of NPS 72 for a 42″ LCD, although no mention of methodology or numbers. Grab the presentation from the web before it disappears. In another snippet, agency bravely aims to track online conversations with LG offline Net Promoter Score (New Media Age)
New Zealand Post-owned finco Kiwibank notches up Net Promoter Score of 60, according to twitterer BankingReview. If so, this puts it close to top of the list of Australian Banks (see article enGaugement: Oz Banks Ranks)
Finally, blogger shmula writes about the power of negative word-of-mouth, and how publicising a twitter-powered whinge about HomeDepot experience reached 3,000 people. HomeDepot amazingly picked up the twitter-moan, but since dropped ball. Net Promoter Score: Fail. Follow story here.