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Net Promoter News: Virgin Media's NPS Superheroes, Guardian Foams at Mouth over British Gas Swimming Sponsorship, athenahealth Puts Healthcare Admin (and NPS) in the Cloud

Virgin Media takes Customer Service to Superhero level

NPS Superhero 3

Each year Virgin Media runs a program to reward employees throughout the business for delivering excellent customer service as measured using Net Promoter.

There’s nothing unusual about that – many organisations do the same. But in an interesting play on the concept of celebrating customer service heroes, Virgin takes the theme and runs with it – all the way to Superhero level.

At its awards shindig in Madeira (because, you know, if you’re going to have an awards shindig it may as well be Madeira) the organisation even created individual superhero caricatures based on the appearance of the winners - see above and to the right for examples.

Says customer experience manager Nick Chinery: "We've run the Superhero theme for three years but this is the first time we've extended that to the winners with their own superhero caricatures." Biff! Pow! It looks like the good guy saves the day once again. C&ITMagazine

Guardian Foams at Mouth over British Gas Swimming Sponsorship

British Gas is no stranger to Net Promoter. According to Call Centre Helper, (and reported in NPS News) it implemented Net Promoter in 2009 and this has helped improve customer service at its call centres.

Not only that, according to its media agency Carat, a £15m sponsorship of British swimming has seen the number of Net Promoter Detractors shrink from 35% to 28% of all customers. "In year one, we have already achieved our long-term goal: British Gas now has the highest NPS of any energy supplier," said the agency.

However, a hyperventilating post in the Guardian lambasts the sponsorship initiative for, among other things, focusing on perception at the expense of experience. To quote a particularly bitter comment:

Pamela Brown, brand experience manager for British Gas (her job title alone makes me froth) describes the work BG did with Carat as being "grounded in a clear insight about what affected customer perceptions". Because that's the bottom line: customer perception. Not actual customer experience, "like high bills and call centres", but perception. It's not about changing their behaviour: it's about changing how we see that behaviour. 

The language may be a little over the top, but the post has a point. Using Net Promoter to measure the result of a sponsorship or marketing activity is misappropriating the metric.

While effective marketing may indeed skew a short-term NPS sugar hit in terms of improved perceptions, if the underlying customer experience problems are not resolved, a higher score is essentially a false positive that potentially obscures the real level of loyalty felt by customers toward the business. And a quick look at Google news confirms that for all its purported efforts in improving the customer experience discussed in Call Centre Helper there are plenty of people willing to vocally express their unhappiness with the company. The Guardian

athenahealth Puts Healthcare Admin (and NPS) in the Cloud

athenaHealth is a cloud-based physician software company that wants to enable the easier flow of patient information, and become “the nation's health information backbone.” It began to measure NPS in Q4 of 2012 and has a (self-reported) score of  +52.

This very respectable score correlates with a growing market cap. Although the organisation just missed its Q3 earnings estimates, its stock was up over 20%, and it has caught the eye of stock tipsters the Motley Fool, which notes that:

Product innovation. Attention to customers. Aggressive business model. Rivals like Allscripts and Quality Systems facing challenges. Significant industry changes. All of these add up to a great opportunity for athenahealth in the days ahead. Motley Fool

Crikey! Australian Super Industry NPS Average at -35

Net Promoter-based research into the Australian superannuation industry has revealed that the overall industry has a woeful average NPS of -35, with the leader, Australian Super sitting on a very modest -23. In the immortal words of the Crocodile Hunter, "Crikey!"

For statistics buffs interested to hear evidence supporting the principal of Promoters actively promoting businesses, about one-quarter of respondents said that a referral from a family member, friend, or colleague was the primary reason for selection of their current superannuation provider.

Superannuation providers researched include Australian Super, Colonial First State, AMP, REST and Sunsuper. Press release

Free CustomerGauge Extension Enables Magento Ecommerce Users to Implement Net Promoter

CustomerGauge has released a Magento extension that enables users to automatically survey customers for their Magento ecommerce sites. The announcement means that more than 200,000 businesses that use Magento as an ecommerce solution now have the potential to implement a Net Promoter program and integrate it with CustomerGauge. Read the details here.

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