NPS Blog

Are You Getting the Most out of the Net Promoter System? Five Questions to Ask

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.

The Net Promoter System Assessment

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.

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