NPS Blog

Podcast: What Do B2B Customers Want?

Eric AlmquistWhat do customers really want when they buy a product? Some benefits are fairly obviousconvenience and quality, for example.

But some customers, even those in business-to-business (B2B) markets, are seeking far more from their purchaseshope, self-actualization and motivation.

Bain Partner Eric Almquist returns to the Net Promoter System Podcast to discuss developments in his Elements of Value framework and how companies are using it. Eric introduced his framework, which draws on themes from psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,” last year in Harvard Business Review. In recent months, he has been expanding the framework to consider the specialized needs of companies in B2B markets.

You can listen to our conversation on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Podcast: Going to Extremes for Customers, with Sarah Robb O’Hagan

sarah-robb-ohagan-220x207When faced with a scrappy challenger, it’s not hard for established brands to lose sight of their core customers, especially if they’re in a highly competitive market.

These situations can arise when an established brand starts to lose market share to a buzzworthy upstart. When that happens, a company’s leaders might debate whether they should change course to chase the new competitor or try to reconnect with the brand’s base.

Sarah Robb O’Hagan, CEO of the indoor cycling company Flywheel Sports, knows this scenario well. More than five years ago, she helped turn around PepsiCo’s multibillion-dollar Gatorade brand when she was president of the sports drink’s division. She went on to serve as president of the luxury gym operator Equinox before taking the helm at Flywheel Sports, which operates boutique fitness studios.

Sarah, who’s also the author of Extreme You: Step Up, Stand Out, Kick Ass. Repeat, shares her experiences in this episode, including her views on what it takes to develop deep connections with customers.

You can listen to our conversation on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Podcast: Tackling Net Promoter Questions from Practitioners on LinkedIn, with Maurice FitzGerald

maurice-fitzgerald-220x207What if a company wants to adopt the Net Promoter System, but lacks the resources and time to fully implement each aspect of the framework? Is it better to do something rather than nothing?

In this episode, Maurice FitzGerald, the retired vice president of customer experience at HP Software and author of Net Promoter—Implementing the System, returns to the podcast. Together, we tackle this question and others submitted by members of the Net Promoter System Forum on LinkedIn, a group for Net Promoter practitioners that Maurice manages.

The Net Promoter System continues to evolve and improve based on the experience of thousands of companies. In this episode, we discuss the latest thinking on critical Net Promoter issues, such as best practices for feedback questions and tactics for collecting deeper feedback from business-to-business companies.

You can listen to our conversation in iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Podcast: The Secret to Happier Customers? Think Simple and Digital

fred-debruyne-220x207Telecom executives are under pressure from their customers, shareholders and other stakeholders to become more digital, to exploit the new technologies and opportunities that will enable them to deliver more services and operate more efficiently.

Some companies approach their digital transformation as a series of boxes to be ticked: mobile apps, better web services, more online transactions. But these companies are missing out on an opportunity to reinvent themselves. The most forward-looking executives will take advantage of this pressure not merely to digitalize their companies, but to deliver remarkably better experiences for customers.

In this episode, I talk to Bain Partner Frederic Debruyne. As head of Bain’s Telecommunications practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Fred has been helping companies tap digital technology to radically simplify their customer experience, using Bain’s Simple & Digital approach.

You can listen to our discussion on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Does Your Rewards Program Inspire Loyalty?

loyalty-programs-220x207Consumers love rewards programs. But do these programs actually build loyalty? I would argue that many don’t—either because the program has become too superficial to engender true loyalty or because it pays customers extra for behavior that would occur anyway.

In the worst cases, poorly managed rewards programs can actually undermine loyalty and create detractors. In my latest post on LinkedIn, I look at the qualities of a sound loyalty program.

Read the blog post: Does Your Rewards Program Inspire Loyalty?

Podcast Shorts: What It Takes to Maintain Customer Intimacy at Scale

rob-markey-intimacy-scale-220x207In the old days, shop owners were on a first-name basis with their customers. Of course, the owners cultivated these relationships within their communities for years, allowing for the intimacy that so many companies aspire to today.

It’s tough to achieve—top leaders often drift further away from the front lines as a company grows. But technology is changing all that. Now companies are harnessing their customer data to form much deeper relationships at huge scale.

In this short episode, I discuss these new opportunities in relationship building and how firms of the future will need to adapt to take advantage of them. You can listen to it on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Podcast: Mining the Big Data Opportunity in Customer Loyalty

Tom SpringerIf you’re an angry customer, the last thing you want is another generic offer from the company that has raised your ire. These missteps can irreparably damage a relationship.

But companies that know how to collect, analyze and act on customer data will learn to avoid these situations, says my colleague Tom Springer, who leads Bain’s Advanced Analytics practice. They’ll use that data to calibrate their offers based on a customer’s level of advocacy, allowing them to expand relationships with promoters and avoid missteps that might leave detractors feeling exploited.

Most companies have vast amounts of customer data—such as the recency, frequency and value of purchases, as well as the number of service calls—but few are using it to its deepen those relationships. Tom is helping companies harness Big Data in ways we couldn’t imagine 10 years ago, creating new opportunities to build loyalty.

You can listen to our conversation on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Podcast: A Little Praise Goes a Long Way, Says Shawn Achor

shawn-achor-220x250Employees who are sincerely happy almost always provide a better customer experience. But what can companies do to make a meaningful difference in how employees feel about their work?

Shawn Achor, The New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness, says that companies can do a lot. In fact, sometimes the solutions are as simple as encouraging social interaction and praise.

In this episode, Shawn discusses the connection between happiness and success, and his work with Fortune 100 companies that want to increase employee engagement. You can listen to our conversation on iTunes, Stitcher or through the audio player below.

Podcast Shorts: The Story Behind the Smiley Face

fred-rob-shortLong before social media and online surveys, shopkeepers relied on a simple measure of customer sentiment: whether their customers were smiling.

In this short episode, Fred Reichheld and I share the story behind the Net Promoter System’s signature smiley face icons, and discuss how one number can become a powerful learning tool for inspiring change.

You can listen to our discussion on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Podcast: The Science Behind Clicking “Buy” with Jonathan Levav

Stanford's Jonathan LevavDo you shop online differently if the purchase involves clicking buttons vs. dragging an item into cart? Does a product search feel more fulfilling if it forces you to scroll through a vast trove of options? Do your survey responses change if the scale starts on the left or the right?

These are the questions that Jonathan Levav, associate professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, explores. His research looks at the factors that influence consumers’ choices and judgment, such as biomechanics, context cues and product attributes.

In this episode, Jonathan discusses his latest research projects and how businesses are increasingly turning to experimental psychology and behavioral economics for answers.  You can listen to our discussion on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Want Loyal Customers? Understand the Episodes That Matter

episodes-that-matter-220x207Good services and a steady stream of new product features used to be enough to hold the top spot in an industry. But that’s not necessarily the case anymore. It’s about the key episodes that define the customer experience.

Product development has well-worn practices. But many firms have not even started to identify their most important experiences, much less manage them. Now, my Bain & Company colleagues are seeing more companies adopt a new key unit of management: the episode, which can encompass a variety of shopping, usage or service activities.

My latest blog post on LinkedIn explores the principles behind strong episode management.

Read the post: Want Loyal Customers? Understand the Episodes That Matter

Podcast: The Tricky Thing About Shareholder Value

roger-martin-220x207One of the great philosophers said that a person who sets out to be happy probably won’t achieve his goal. On the other hand, if a person sets out to help others and make the world a better place, he will probably end up happy.

The same logic applies to companies that set the vague goal of maximizing shareholder value, according to Roger Martin, former dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. In reality, successful companies create products their customers want and provide exceptional service—and increase shareholder value in the process.

Roger, who’s the author of 10 books, including Getting Beyond Better and Playing to Win, and a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review, shares his business philosophies in this podcast episode. You can listen to our conversation on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Here’s a Smarter Use for Social Media

nps-social-220x207Social media has opened up vast new ways for companies to get to know their customers—what they like, what they hate and where they shop. But anyone with a Twitter handle knows that social networks are littered with inane noise.

Customer loyalty programs, such as the Net Promoter System, and social media scraping have advanced along largely separate paths of development. However, there’s a huge opportunity for companies willing to combine them—and cut through the dissonance.

I discuss how companies are bringing together their Net Promoter and social media efforts in my latest blog post on LinkedIn.

Read the post: Here’s a Better Use for Social Media

Podcast Shorts: Asking the Right Question

fred-rob-shortPeople like to ask about the significance of the likelihood-to-recommend question—”how likely would you be to recommend a product or service to a friend?”— and why it was chosen over others.

The answer is simple: It offered the best prediction of consumer behavior in early testing. In other words, customers who give a strong ratings are more likely to buy the product again and promote the product to their friends.

By focusing on a single question, the Net Promoter System eliminates unnecessary complexity. In this short episode of the podcast, Fred Reichheld and I discuss the origins of the system’s central question. You can listen to the short on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.

Podcast: Why Front-Line Obsession Is Critical to Growth

chris-zook-220x207Steve Jobs. Charles Schwab. Howard Schultz. They all spotted an unmet customer need and made it their mission to meet it. They also founded iconic companies that started out as disruptors only to struggle as bureaucracy and distraction set in. In each case, it took the founder’s return to get the company back on track.

It’s a story that will be played out again and again in business. But it doesn’t have to.

According to Bain Partner Chris Zook, these companies have battled the predictable crises of growth. In The Founder’s Mentality, a new book Chris cowrote with Bain’s James Allen, Chris talks about how companies can hold on to the spirit of their founders as they grow. No surprise: It requires companies to focus on their customers.

Chris recently joined me on the podcast. You can listen to our conversation on iTunes, Stitcher or through the player below.