An exceptional response rate usually starts with an exceptional customer experience program.
At least, that’s the story with ICON Communication, a Prague-based contact center specializing in inside sales and account management solutions for B2B brands. ICON gets an extraordinary 100% response rate to their CX program, which starts and ends with a deeply engaged frontline and a dedication to closing the loop.
This week on the Account Experience podcast, we had the good fortune of chatting with Helen Hickin, the CEO, and founder of ICON. Hickin has dedicated her professional career to serving customers well–and the success of ICON shows. 18 years in business and a team that serves in 30 different languages are proof of a company that’s strong, dynamic, and forward-moving.
Hickin’s core philosophy is the simple principle of generosity: over-the-top customer service, openness to listening, and a commitment to getting feedback.
“That age-old adage is true,” explains Hickin. “You reap what you sow.”
Here’s what it means to “reap what you sow” in customer experience, according to the best of the best.
Getting an Exceptional Number of Customer Referrals
Referrals can be one of the most powerful sources of new customer growth. Customers or accounts who are referred are likely to be more satisfied, stay longer, and even refer other customers.
But it’s not always easy to win referrals. And in a competitive industry–such as with contact centers–it can be even more difficult.
That being said, 80% of ICON’s revenue comes from customer referrals.
“Up until two years ago, we didn't have a sales team,” explains Hickin. “[Business] came from word of mouth...Over the past 18 years, ICON has grown through great work and predominantly, through clients referring our work.”
What’s the engine behind their exceptionally high rate of referrals? Customer feedback.
“One of our core pillars is that we want feedback,” says Hickin. “Sometimes that feedback hurts and sometimes we're super proud of it, but in any case, we need that feedback. That’s why the business has grown and not just from clients and colleagues, but from our workforce as well.”
Finally, feedback circles back to NPS, or Net Promoter Score.
“It is about soliciting honest feedback, and understanding, which all goes back to NPS. NPS is at the heart of our business,” says Hickin.
ICON puts an emphasis on regularly collecting NPS, and most importantly, taking action when scores are less than ideal.
“If we haven't got the NPS score that says that clients are going to refer us, we need to know why, and we need to know what we're going to do better,” explains Hickin. “We need to put action plans in place to make sure that we are attaining that 80%.”
Getting an Extraordinary Response Rate
As mentioned above, ICON gets an extraordinary 100% response rate to their customer feedback program. But that’s not about earning “bragging rights”; it’s about attaining a fair representation of what customers actually believe.
Hickin explains, “You can get two or three people to respond with a great NPS score, but that's not representative...we're not just trying to get a better score. We actually want a true picture of what our clients think.”
How does ICON earn this extraordinarily high rate?
They listen–and take action.
“The reason that we're getting such a phenomenal return rate is that clients can see results from going through the process,” says Hickin. “We listen, we're putting plans in place and we're doing something about it.”
Getting a Super Engaged Frontline
The foundation to such a phenomenal customer response rate–and closed-loop response–are super engaged frontline employees.
At ICON, this means employees who champion and believe in the company.
“Teams are incredibly engaged,” says Hickin. “They’re brand evangelists.”
These “brand evangelists” also play a key role in the future of ICON, influencing how the company evolves and runs overtime.
“...the team itself can help shape our business moving forward,” says Hickin.
ICON’s frontline employees are exceptionally committed to working with clients and listening to feedback. They’ve even become valued partners in core decision-making.
“The team now gets involved with the client when they consider their pricing structure for the next commercial period,” explains Hickin.
Of course, this happened organically; clients didn’t request that the team got involved with pricing. The contact center team simply listened to what the client’s customers were saying, gained an understanding of pricing, and were able to give suggestions accordingly.
“You can’t measure the power of a frontline that actually listens and responds,” says Hickin.
Building a Response-and-Feedback Loop with CustomerGauge
At the core of ICON’s success is Net Promoter Score, or NPS.
NPS isn’t just used to measure customer satisfaction. It’s used to measure the likelihood of a customer referral–a key indicator of long-term retention.
CustomerGauge’s Account Experience program can help you build a powerful feedback loop that helps you measure NPS and build customer referrals. It’s also a great way to build customer relationships and to get a gauge on what’s going well, and what could be improved.