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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

hinchingbrook1-300x175.jpgPrivate 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

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"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

Next Up: Net Promoter News: Rainbow Nation scores in World Cup extra time, Progressive Corp progressively retains,1-800-GotJunk delights at +85, Enterasys BYOD NPS +81

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