Deborah Eastman, CMO at Satmetrix, talked about improving NPS in B2B relationships. She focused on three themes:
- It’s about relationships, not surveys (engage customers in a partnership)
- integrate the program in the business (don’t rely on an independent NP team and demonstrate the value account teams receive which include protecting their key business assets: customers, and a better understanding of the customer relationship)
- ensure action.
Deborah emphasized how a NPS program helps understand the strength of your customer relationships, be proactive in improving and leveraging relationships and avoid surprises in account churn and lost business. There are many customer relationships across the enterprise and the health of the relationships have traditionally been determined by the account teams. But, these can be very biased. While the team may believe all is good, the NP scorecard shows the real story.
Deb then reviewed best practices for creating and managing a successful NP program. She began with creating a continuous process where account teams are involved in all steps of the process from contact participation to account planning based on the results. Next, Deborah talked about the sampling strategy by understanding client revenue segments and roles (decision makers, influencers and end-users). Her experience has shown that NPS varies by role and revenue tier. She said that many companies conduct a pulse survey once a year. She suggested segmenting the customer base and surveying a segment per quarter. Twice a year per account is best. The first time should be a short (pulse) survey and the second a more detailed diagnostic approach. This is a good balance for the company and its customers and provides a good read on differences per quarter before it’s too late to act. Next she talked about defining and publishing timelines and synching with the business operations. For example, don’t require closed-loop follow-up at the end of a quarter when sales teams are trying to close deals. She then talked a little about the importance of a governance structure for the program. With regard to survey design she said it needs to be focused, role-based (different survey for Execs versus End-users) and the importance of delivering surveys in the respondent’s native language.
Deb talked about actively recruiting for participation where the account teams need to engage clients by positioning the intent and benefits and setting expectations. She said if done right, you should have response rates of 60% or higher (the audience gasped). Deborah stressed the importance of immediate response since this creates opportunities. In one example she said that for one Satmetrix client immediate follow-up after a trigger saved an $8M account AND resulted in a $2M up sell. She talked about incorporating program results in account planning using account influence charts (NPS by role) and linking to business metrics (revenue by NPS).
The last best practice she shared was about closed loop processes where broad communication to all customers about actions taken will serve to increase response rates. She suggested doing this within 30 days of the survey close, but realized this can take a little longer in many cases.
Finally, Deborah warned not to tie compensation to NPS right away or it will surely kill the program – account teams will try to game the system. In closing, she shared a few case-studies on successful NP programs including a Business Telco company that experienced a 150% increase in orders and an IT product supplier who identified new opportunities in 39% of their follow-up meetings.