Can you truly rely on a single number to ascertain customer reaction to your service or product? Or do you need to consider it a starting point?

The Net Promoter Score, or NPS, uses a system of dividing a company’s customers into three categories – Promoters, Passives, and Detractors – and then asking a single question to come up with a score to measure your company’s performance through the lens of the customer. Simple, but is it enough?

Actually, no it is not. Many companies have taken the score quite literally and believe they only have to ask that one question. Yet the NPS folks actually state on their website that the single number is not enough.

“Net Promoter programs are not traditional customer satisfaction programs, and simply measuring your NPS does not lead to success. Companies must follow an associated discipline to actually drive improvements in customer loyalty and enable profitable growth.”

Obviously it takes more than just a single number to truly understand how customers feel about an organization. The issue is that if you uncover that you have a 75% top box satisfaction score, you still have no idea why the other 25% are dissatisfied, or even what aspect of the experience the 75% who are satisfied actually value most. To effectively build models around customer satisfaction and experience requires understanding the whole picture, not just a single component.

Challenge the Norm: It would be nice to have a system that you asked a single question, took the answer and changed your entire business. However, as the NPS folks stated, it requires a bigger commitment in leadership and developing business processes to act on customer feedback in order to achieve results.

To build effective models for growth and customer satisfaction requires spending time researching underlying drivers of satisfaction and then periodically re-validating customer expectations. To begin a thorough study of customer satisfaction and expectation requires several types of analysis, including:

  • The relationship between customer satisfaction and company perception – do you know how your customers perceive your organization?
  • Engaging internal people – without the perception of the employees who are customer facing, you do not have the full picture. Sales and customer service both interact with your prospects and customers, often way before any other group within the company.
  • Developing questions based on specific goals – rather than group together multiple questions that do not provide an end result or even one question that does not provide enough information, spend time developing questions that will give information on a specific issue or challenge.

The reality is to find out how customers perceive your organization requires planning, internal buy-in, and commitment to making a strategic change based on the results of the study. Without details of why customers do choose your organization or prospects do not, it is impossible to build a full-scale model to improve customer perception. Take the time to build models based on complete communication and information, good and bad, and take full advantage of strategic insights.

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