Deborah Eastman, CMO at Satmetrix
Deborah Eastman has a wealth of experience in running Net Promoter programs, from being both a direct practitioner and also helping clients optimize their own programs.
Deborah started off by reminding us that business buying decisions are complex – much more so than B2C experiences – since there are often so many more people involved in the buying decision. Understanding the strength of those relationships can be challenging when so many people are involved. When B2B customers leave, it’s often a big surprise; an effective Net Promoter program will fix that.
Create a Program, not a Survey. Customers don’t care about surveys. It is critical to show them that you care about the relationship and that you and the account team will take action. In determining from whom to get feedback, Deborah advocated taking a hard look at the 80/20 rule: Since 80% of revenue often comes from 20% of customers, it’s important to give bigger customers a bigger voice. And also make sure to understand the word-of-mouth effect inside a company – for example, end users are often important influencers of any buying decision and might have something important to say.
Part of a programmatic approach is to establish when the surveying process will take place. In general, getting feedback only once a year is not a good practice as the approach fails to drive customer-centric thinking throughout the organization. So Deborah instead has found that by splitting up the customer base into segments, and surveying “slices” of each segment (keeping in mind to not over-survey individual customers) on a regular (e.g. quarterly) basis. This approach drives stability in the NPS while also ensuring NPS is top-of mind for all employees. And role-based surveys, for example to differentiate end users from executives, are another important dimension and segmentation strategy to get he right feedback from the right people and drive the right results.
Deborah next advised that a communication strategy be a critical part of any NPS program. Communicate both internally and externally what is happening, how the feedback will be acted upon, and how employees will be engaged in the process. For example, by taking this approach within Satmetrix’ own Net Promoter program, account teams are much more engaged in the process, and so are clients. Effective internal communication should ideally highlight the “wins” from the program: Since account teams benefit from a Net Promoter program through improved relationships and generating cross-sell opportunities, it is critical to make sure everyone knows the real-world examples of where the program has produced new sales wins.
You’ll benefit from high response rates by recruiting responses through effective communication from both account teams and executive. Effective recruiting includes:
- Positioning the intent – why are you soliciting feedback?
- Setting expectations about what you’ll do with the feedback
And finally, don’t forget the closed-loop process as a key part of the program. An effective follow-up process drives action both operationally – within the account – and structurally – across the organizational silos – to prioritize overall investments. Alerts from surveys generate the awareness for urgent operational follow-up, and then allow the account teams to improve relationships that ultimately improve your account teams’ top-line.
Effective governance drives effective behavior
There’s a tendency to link compensation to NPS, yet it is critical to make sure that gaming is avoided by instilling the value of the program vs. individual performance management. Deborah advised a strong focus on getting the contact data right and driving high response rates, and that this is balanced with using the data for employee performance management in order to avoid gaming (or, in fact, de-prioritizing the employee performance aspect in the early stages). Don’t be tempted by linking NPS to compensation too soon – find the behavior you want to influence, and link accordingly to avoid gaming.
At the end of the day we care about revenue more than scores. Link Net Promoter Scores to the value of the customer in order to know where to optimize the relationship by applying the right resources to the right accounts.
Deborah shared a few examples programs done right:
- Orange Business Services realized a 150% increase in orders from accounts engaged in the program
- Another large B2B company found a 39% improvement in follow-up meetings (sales opportunities!)
- And HP found a 2x increase in sales from the participating account teams
While a Net Promoter program is not an easy task, the phenomenal results like these certainly provide the pay-off!