NPS Blog

Assessing Your Net Promoter System: How VimpelCom Set a Roadmap for Improvement

VimpelCom is one of the largest telecom companies in the world, serving 217 million customers globally. It started in Moscow in the 1990s and has grown to cover 14 countries ranging from Italy to Kazakhstan.

Yet until a few years ago, it was missing feedback from an important group of customers: its employees. Thanks to a legacy rewards program, people who worked for VimpelCom could have their services switched on and bills paid almost automatically, with no need to navigate the circuitous system that non-employees faced. Their view of the customer experience was skewed.

That changed when VimpelCom became more serious about its mission to focus on customers, forced in part by an influx of Internet-based rivals who were squeezing revenues. The company realized it needed to reconnect with its employees and get a handle on its loyalty economics.  I recently talked to VimpelCom executives Anton Telegin and Natalia Macpherson about how they used the Net Promoter System to support this critical cultural shift.

“The competition is very tough, and resources are scarce,” says Anton, who is group director for commercial transformation. Improving customer experience “was a way to not compete on price.”

A few years into their journey, VimpelCom launched an assessment of its Net Promoter System, with Bain’s help, to identify ways they could accelerate their progress. Company leaders used Bain’s assessment tool to evaluate how executives were gathering data on customers and making decisions about service.

While they had been using the Net Promoter Score to gauge their progress, the assessment revealed that VimpelCom still had little consistent insight into its customers’ experiences. Most employees were in the dark about customer travails. Moreover, its IT systems did a poor job of capturing and retaining the objective data executives needed to make things better. As a result, customer-focused programs lacked momentum and focus.

“People didn’t realize that, yes, you can implement a Net Promoter Score, but that’s not going to get you that far,” says Natalia, who is group director of customer service. “Without the leadership knowledge and engagement driving the program, it’s not going to be that effective.”

The assessment tool helped VimpelCom leaders develop a shared point of view about what they needed to prioritize to make the Net Promoter System work for them. The company invested in technology that collected customer feedback more effectively. They also used it to gather feedback from employees, who were charged with accessing the company’s services just like everyone else.

The assessment results also helped customer service leaders illustrate the connection between customer experience and growth (or in the case of detractors, loss), which helped them rally support for their Net Promoter efforts. In the first full year of using the Net Promoter System following the assessment, VimpelCom reduced customer churn by 10%, which equated to $350 million in revenue. Leaders have good reason to be optimistic that those strong returns will continue.

To track their progress, VimpelCom managers took the Net Promoter System assessment once again last year, two years after the initial launch. “It was a bit of a health check,” Anton says. “We found that yes, we are moving in the right direction.”

VimpelCom is just one of 130 Net Promoter companies we recently studied to understand which ones are using the system to its fullest potential. Only a few of these companies have implemented all the system’s best practices. Most companies are somewhere along the journey, and many have a long way to go. But it is clear from the analysis that as companies apply more Net Promoter best practices, they grow increasingly happier with the results they have achieved. The closer to the complete system companies come, the greater their management team’s likelihood to recommend Net Promoter to their colleagues.

Want to see how your company’s Net Promoter System stacks up? Try our online assessment tool.

To hear more about VimpelCom’s Net Promoter experience, listen to our conversation on iTunes or through the player below. Click here to browse more Net Promoter System podcasts.

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