The Net Promoter System has a mechanism called the inner loop that helps employees of all kinds get real-time feedback directly from customers. The feedback is usually positive—most employees do their job pretty well—so people typically become more engaged and enthusiastic. The occasional criticism or complaint about a specific interaction or decision can help individual employees and the organization learn to do their jobs better.
The challenge is to set up the inner loop in the right way, so that it reinforces learning rather than undermining it.
The best companies—loyalty leaders that grow profitably—do things to teach their employees to do their jobs better. In fact, the Net Promoter System was designed to help companies facilitate and accelerate individual learning. The system’s inner loop and huddle play important roles in encouraging feedback and coaching so that employees can serve customers better and contribute to the mission of their organizations.
Some people think that developing deep expertise simply requires time and practice, but there’s more to it.
Psychologist Anders Ericsson, coauthor of the new book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, and his team have deconstructed what it takes to become a true expert in a variety of fields. What they’ve discovered can be applied at any company.
It’s a scenario that we routinely see: A company starts off using the Net Promoter System with great enthusiasm, gets a few quick wins and then hits a wall. The company’s leaders inevitably ask us, “What are we doing wrong?”
I’m asked this question so often that I developed an assessment tool that allows companies to measure their Net Promoter efforts in a straightforward and quantitative way. The premise is simple: We analyzed what Net Promoter leaders do and then worked backward to understand why they achieve stellar results.
It turns out there are a number of best practices that leading Net Promoter companies consistently follow, including having the right leadership at the top, having a reliable way to collect data and enabling employees to understand and share what they’re learning. And the more best practices a company follows, the more it will get out of the system.
If you’re not sure you’re getting the most out of the Net Promoter System, here are five questions to ask:
1. Do you know the factors influencing Net Promoter Scores for different customer segments?
Some customers generate more revenue than others; it’s a fact. But most companies don’t have a solid grasp of loyalty economics. They haven’t calculated the value of creating promoters among their customers. In a recent survey of Net Promoter practitioners, nearly three-quarters of respondents disagreed with the statement, “We have been able to calculate word of mouth and referral economics,” indicating they had not yet connected the scores they were collecting with loyalty economics.
For example, a bank looking just at aggregate Net Promoter Scores might conclude that its average customer hates long teller lines. But without probing further, executives will miss the fact that the bank’s high-value customers take steps to avoid lines—so reducing wait times won’t improve their experience as much as upgrading mobile tools.
2. How are your customer feedback response rates?
Net Promoter Scores are important in the right context, but don’t stop there. The trend in response rates is also important. If they’re starting to fall, it may be an early indicator of customer dissatisfaction. Leading Net Promoter companies also evaluate the mix of respondents, even if their response rates are strong, to ensure they’re getting feedback from the right people.
3. Who is leading my Net Promoter efforts?
At leading Net Promoter companies, the executive who’s running the effort usually reports to the CEO. If that person is more than two levels below the CEO, the company’s Net Promoter System isn’t getting the attention it deserves from leadership. The chain of command, however, isn’t as important as the leader’s ability to influence colleagues.
Some Net Promoter companies go a step further and create a central team or a customer advocacy office to put Net Promoter methods and tools to work.
4. Does your CFO believe in your Net Promoter System?
When you know the Net Promoter Scores for your key customer segments, the logical next step is to use that information to make investment decisions that will help your company grow. But problems can arise when a company’s chief financial officer relies solely on backward-looking financial metrics.
The success of any Net Promoter System requires support from every department and business function, from the very top to the front line. CFOs of top Net Promoter companies treat the system as a predictive tool that allows them to allocate resources in ways that serve customers best. These companies usually have a strong “outer loop,” a Net Promoter System mechanism for making systemic changes that support customers.
5. Can employees explain the Net Promoter System? And why that’s important.
We recently worked with a company that touted its strong commitment to the Net Promoter System. However, when the firm’s executives took our assessment, they realized there were some gaps to address. Even though top and middle managers were fired up about Net Promoter, the front line in one division saw it as just another corporate initiative. And while it was working well in another division, no one was sharing those best practices across the company. This company shifted its focus to training and saw some good results.
I invite you to try Bain’s Net Promoter System Assessment tool. We’ve set the bar high, so please don’t be discouraged if you’re not yet hitting all the marks. Very few companies are there yet.
Over the coming weeks, I will explore in more detail the best practices that the assessment tool measures. You can sign up on the right to receive our blog posts by email, or follow us on Twitter (@NetPromoterSys) for updates.
What qualities and experiences make for a successful chief advocacy officer? Not just anyone will do, regardless of how bright and ambitious he or she may seem to be.
The best CAOs aren’t always the people you might think of first, and they aren’t always working in predictable roles. But one thing is for sure: It’s important to choose someone who has the respect of the organization’s leaders.
In this short episode, I talk about some critical considerations for companies that are choosing a CAO. You can listen to it on iTunes or through the player below.
Learn more: Who Should Run Your Net promoter System?
Ride-hailing companies disrupted the traditional taxi and limo industry by offering unprecedented convenience. But less has been said about the customer experience at these fast-growing companies, which typically allow customers and drivers to rate their interactions. After all, these companies rely on thousands of independent drivers in markets across the country.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mary Winfield, vice president of customer experience and trust at Lyft. She says that her company strives to create a culture of respect with drivers that empowers them to make authentic connections with passengers. The company does that by offering services that help drivers get paid quickly and resolve problems faster. Mary also makes time in her schedule to interact with customers and drivers.
A company needs more than a CEO’s support to get the most out of the Net Promoter System. That’s why some companies set up a customer advocacy office, or CAO, that focuses on learning about—and improving—the customer experience.
A customer advocacy office can serve as the project management office that coordinates product development, marketing and other functional groups in the organization to focus on the customer experience. Net Promoter provides the methodology and the tools; the CAO is the arm of management that puts the methods and tools to work.
In this short episode of the Net Promoter System Podcast, I discuss the benefits of a customer advocacy office. You can listen to the episode on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to view more more episodes.
Most companies that serve other companies solicit feedback, often in the form of quarterly or semiannual satisfaction surveys.
The Net Promoter System in a B2B setting also solicits feedback from customers. But that’s where the similarity to conventional methodologies ends. This system’s twin goals are to foster customer engagement and build strong client relationships. It isn’t so much a survey method as a means of facilitating relationship-enhancing conversations. It helps sales reps and account managers get involved in solving customers’ problems. It shows marketers and product designers and service engineers ways to make the customer’s experience better. The feedback it provides is continuous: It offers granular insights into what is troubling or delighting any given customer at any given time.
In this short episode of the Net Promoter System Podcast, I talk about how the system can facilitate relationship-enhancing conversations.
Learn more: Get Real Feedback from Your B2B Customers
How do you get the best out of employees? Scripted interactions and oppressive rules are never the answer. The best companies hire the right people and set the right expectations, and they trust their employees to use their judgment to make customers happy. When executives step back, employees provide more authentic and empathetic service.
Former Disney executive Lee Cockerell returns to the podcast to share his tips for striking that balance between loose and tight control. At Disney, Lee ran a operation with tens of thousands of employees who were spread across a huge physical space and represented many operational and service functions. What does it take to create a magical experience on that scale? Strong hires, high expectations and trust.
If you missed Lee’s first interview, you can check it out here: At Disney, the Show Must Go On
What do you call the space between you and your customer? According to Dayton Semerjian, that’s where you’ll find the true value of a customer relationship. Dayton is general manager of global customer success and support at the IT services firm CA Technologies.
CA’s customers tend to be large companies, and the decision to buy its software and services is usually made by big groups of people armed with heavy analysis. Customer relationships can be very complex, involving many internal teams that handle sales, implementation and tech support.
It’s not that uncommon for some customers to feel like they’ve fallen through the cracks in situations like these. In this episode of the Net Promoter System Podcast, Dayton shares what it takes to earn promoters in complex client relationships.
Learn more: Do Your B2B Customers Promote Your Business?
Hotels didn’t always give out free toiletries. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when a Four Seasons hotel in London first started offering shampoo in showers that other hotels started following suit. And Four Seasons has been setting high standards for luxury travel—and hospitality in general—ever since.
In the latest Net Promoter System Podcast episode, Barbara Talbott, former chief marketing officer at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, shares how the company grew from a small chain to a global luxury brand during her two decades with the company. She left the company to start GlenLarkin Advisors in 2009, and now shares her keen sense of customer experience with other companies.
When a company shifts its internal investments around, employees who get the short end often feel like corporate losers—marginalized and demoralized. Employees might even stop caring about the company’s mission or the needs of customers, and that’s when real damage sets in for any company.
But what if a company considered a team’s sacrifices just as important to its mission as a team’s achievements? In that scenario, hard-working employees and managers would be heroes for doing more with less. What if having a smaller budget was as much a sign of professional success as a large one?
In my latest post on LinkedIn, I apply a loyalty lens to the Founder’s Mentality. Read the post here: When a Company Wins, Everybody Should Win—Even the “Losers”.
Employees need to see the fundamental connection between the work they do every day and its impact on customers. They must experience firsthand the deep satisfaction of earning their customers’ heartfelt gratitude and loyalty. If they don’t, then their jobs are just jobs—they may do as they’re told, but they won’t bring much energy, enthusiasm or creativity to the workplace.
This short podcast episode looks at the ways companies can create an environment where employees bring their best to work every day on behalf of the company. You can listen to the episode on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to view more episodes.
Learn more: Energetic, Enthusiastic and Creative
To close the loop is not only to let customers know that you have heard their feedback but also to bring the customer’s voice right inside the organization. Employees get a direct line to the people they are serving. They see and hear how they are creating or destroying loyalty and what they can do to improve the customer experience.
Learn more about closing the loop in this Loyalty Insights brief: Closing the Loop
Creating a pilot or prototype is an essential part of designing a robust Net Promoter System. These small-scale efforts allow a company to experiment with the system’s essential elements, helping the company to create an effective program it can expand to other parts of the organization. This Net Promoter System Podcast short shares some best practices for prototypes.
Learn more: The Value of Prototypes
Why bother customers with surveys now that businesses have Big Data analytics to guide their customer strategies? And if we don’t need surveys, don’t loyalty metrics and programs such as the Net Promoter System become far less relevant?
In reality, it’s not so simple. The Net Promoter System is not based on surveys but rather on regular customer feedback in many forms. Big Data analytics, by capturing and integrating those many forms of feedback, can make the Net Promoter System more powerful. Big Data also makes it feasible to define the relevant groups of customers—promoters, passives and detractors—more accurately.
In my latest post on LinkedIn, I explain why surveys still have a valuable role to play—that is, if they are fewer and shorter—as a proven way to find out why customers would recommend a company (or not).
Read the full post here: Why Good Surveys Still Matter in a Big Data World
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