Many of you will have used Net Promoter Surveys (NPS) to gauge the perception of your customers towards your company, products and services and to turn your existing customers into promoters of your business. The surveys can be a useful tool for learning what your customers like and dislike about your company and using their feedback to improve your operational practices.
But what if you’re not seeing the anticipated improvements in your NPS score? Here are my personal top 5 strategies for improving your NPS score to improve your businesses perception in your marketplace.
1. Include your employees in the process
NPS isn’t a management task undertaken behind closed doors. If you want to engage with your customer base in a meaningful manner then it is vital to include your employees in the process. All employees support your customers, even if they don’t realise it or see it as part of their role. Your staff are your best promoters.
Not all your employees are going to be involved to the same extent, but for a really successful utilisation of NPS it should become part of the ethical fabric of your company. All employees should have an understanding of NPS, and how it is used as a tool to improve your business, whilst enforcing it as a positive process. Highlight the benefits that improved customer perception can bring in real terms rather than focusing on the consequences of poor marketplace perception.
You may want to go as far as including various objectives around NPS in your annual appraisals and bonus schemes, if applicable, remembering also that it is very important to provide staff with a forum to provide feedback upon the results and any changes in process that you may decide to take.
2. Not to prepare is to prepare to fail
The usefulness of the results you obtain from an NPS can largely depend upon the preparation of your contact data. Many companies use NPS to produce a single score at the end of the survey, and take actions based upon the feedback received. Although this technique will work for some businesses, it is often the case that this will lead to a fairly static NPS score over a period of time, with little return on the time invested in operation changes, products or services.
With some data refinement it is possible to ensure that any changes you make to your processes on the back of the survey are targeted where they will have most effect. It is therefore useful to define a number of business categories that you will find most useful for your company. These could include:
- Top 20% customer by revenue
- Customer is private or corporation
- Customer is long-term customer
- Previously a promoter/detractor/passive
The above are, of course, examples, and you will want to come up with your own based upon the needs of your business and the direction you are heading over the medium to long term. It will enable you to break down your survey results and produce a number of NPS scores. You will also find it useful to produce scores on how you are perceived at various levels within an organisation across your contact data. For example at CEO, Director, Financial Officer, Secretary and so on.
This is a useful method if you have been experiencing static results over a number of surveys and wish to identify the reasons behind this. It could well mean that you have been improving in some areas, or at some levels by the actions you have been taken, but perversely have suffered in other areas.
Spending time ensuring that your data meets your requirements as a business aids you in making sure that when it comes to acting upon the detractor feedback you are putting your effort into those areas where it will have most impact, as well as effectively communicating back to your customers after the survey.
3. Results and responses
The first thought that crosses many people’s minds when they start to analyse their NPS responses is whether they have achieved a high enough response rate. It’s certainly true that the higher the response rate, the more representative of your customer base the survey will be. In my experience, the first few days of sampling will often contain a much higher level of promoters or detractors, which will not be representative of your customer base as a whole, and unless you manage to get your sample rate above 20% then there is a risk that your survey will yield misleading results.
If you are conducting your survey online via email distribution to your customers, a response rate of between 30% and 40% is widely accepted as average, rates above 50% are good, and over 60% very good. To improve response rates run your surveys at regular intervals to set your customers’ expectations, and prepare them in advance by communicating operational changes that have been implemented since the last survey.
It’s advisable to contact your detractors verbally, if they have chosen to leave contact details, to clarify the feedback they have provided and to expand upon this where necessary, but also, more importantly, to obtain information from detractors where they have decided not to provide any feedback at all.
It’s important to mention that if one of your detractors has used the survey to complain about an unresolved or unresponded issue, this should be acted upon using your normal complaints process. The NPS feedback is then flagged as an indicator that your customer service processes may need some reviewing, i.e. the detraction here isn’t the direct feedback from the customer but the process that led to this particular comment.
4. Implement suggestions
The most important objective of NPS is to turn your detractors into promoters of your business. Nothing sells your services or products like existing customers who are happy with your company.
Set up a working group to recommend a number of tangible changes given the detractor feedback you have received. It’s easy to lose momentum on implementation of operational changes within any company, especially during day-to-day business activities where priorities can change from day to day. This project should be handled objectively. Implementation of change should be spread throughout the business and clear lines of responsibility given to those tasked with implementing change. Ensure that any required operational objectives are SMART, that is Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time limited, with regular meetings and deliverables to ensure the project remains on track. Remember, of course, to communicate these goals to your business as a whole.
The majority of customers like to feel engaged with companies that they do business with and generally welcome involvement or feedback upon changes that will improve any relationship. Communication exercises are something that you should be regularly undertaking with your customer base, but it is a difficult balance. You don’t want to be sending out the same information time and time again. NPS offers a great opportunity to demonstrate your willingness to listen to your customers and act upon their feedback.
Between surveys, regularly keep your customer base up to date with the changes you are making as a result of your NPS feedback, ensuring the information you are sending is relevant as per your NPS categories defined earlier. Remember, regular communication with your customers is a great way to improve your scores anyway, and make sure you communicate a summary of all your operation changes just before you despatch your next survey!
Chris Summers is the owner of Services & People.
He recently left the UK’s largest privately owned software company where he was a Customer Support Manager for the best part of twenty years, delivering support to thousands of people around the country
What other ideas do you have to improve your Net Promoter Score? Please leave your comments in an email to Call Centre Helper