Part 2: Top Ten Success Factors for Net Promoter Deployments
There were lots of compelling case studies presented at the recent Net Promoter conference in London. Clearly a revolution is occurring in the marketplace. If you don't embrace it, your competitors will bury you. Because sooner or later, they too will wake up to the power of this important customer-experience metric.
First off, just because Net Promoter is simple does not mean that it is easy. It requires discipline to make it happen. It requires methodology. It requires commitment. It requires technology. And it requires the whole company. I'd like to use this blog to summarize the top ten factors that spell success for Net Promoter practitioners:
- Involve the CEO. At every customer presentation I attended in London, it came out that the CEO was actively involved in some way. Read the blogs from GE, Aggreko, Philips, Lego, and other attendees and you'll see precisely how CEO involvement was instrumental to launching their programs and keeping them on track.
- Gather your proof points. Net Promoter programs are not always welcomed with open arms. The skeptics need proof. In many cases, pilot programs are put into place to get proof from within a targeted business segment, such as a region, product group, or business function. As the stories at the conference revealed, these pilot programs are key to demonstrable wins. The wins almost always involved front line personnel and stressed the importance of following up immediately on negative feedback. The most common approach was to focus on strategic accounts and the most common win involved saving a key account or culminating a large deal. This is the kind of proof point that gets attention.
- Gain visibility. None of the programs highlighted at the London conference were kept in the back room. Many employees were involved, champions emerged or were assigned, internal and external marketing programs were employed to train and build understanding. This is one area where the strength of Net Promoter comes into play almost every time.
- Find the right blend of top-down and bottom-up. There is no magic formula for how to collect Net Promoter data. It almost always consists of a blend of top-down data collection (periodic relationship surveys) as well as bottom-up transactional surveys driven by customer-facing business processes. The conference attendees used both short and long surveys. It sometimes took trial-and-error to get it right. When in doubt, they consulted with experts.
- Win the hearts and minds of front-line workers. This may sound like a restatement of "gather your proof points," but there is more to say about this. Employees need to feel that they are important and have a stake in the customer experience - even when they do not always have direct customer involvement. This point came across very well when GE Real Estate talked about NPS Day. In one case, a clerical worker at GE, who is responsible for processing loan documents, actually got emotional during a moment of epiphany. "I never knew what I did mattered to the customer," he said.
- Drive improvement in the scores. Remember, collecting NP data is just the first step. To affect change within your customer base, you must act on what customers tell you. This involves sharing customer feedback with front-line employees, and gradually changing the corresponding business processes when the aggregate data reveals a trend.
- Commit for the long-term. We heard this again and again from the speakers at the conference. Success is derived from long-term commitment. For Net Promoter programs to work, you must think beyond quarterly results. This also helps smooth out the focus on short-term profits - ”or "bad profits," as Fred Reichheld calls them.
- Encourage quick wins. There are generally quick wins to be had when talking with customers - both promoters and detractors. This is true even if the issues require long-term fixes. The act of listening and starting the improvement process is often enough to move detractors to higher scores even if you can't fix their issues right away.
- Reinforce top corporate objectives. If customer experience and loyalty is not one of the top strategic corporate objectives, the Net Promoter program will fail. Strive to connect what you learn from customers with the things senior managers deem important, and vice versa. This requires a continual focus on CEO commitment and a marketing plan to increase program visibility.
- Replay customer feedback for maximum impact. While numeric scores may come across as impersonal, customer comments have real impact. After product managers at HSBC were able to read what customers really wanted, they resolved an internal battle over which features to add to a key financial product. Listening to audio comments from recorded surveys is particularly enlightening.