Consumers have more choices than ever before. Products across a multitude of industries are becoming commoditized – if they haven’t already. As a result, customer satisfaction is being used as a market differentiator now more than ever before.
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is widely considered to be the industry standard for measuring overall customer satisfaction rates. Let’s look at five ways you can drive meaningful change in overall customer experience to, ultimately, increase your NPS.
This one is pretty simple. If you go through all of the effort to setup an NPS survey for your company, listen to what your customers have to say. Ask relevant follow-up questions in the NPS survey, such as “why did you choose that score” and, “what could we have done differently to make the experience better?” The score merely gives you a snapshot into the overall customer experience. The follow-up questions should provide your organization with the insight needed to target possible customer friction points and start to eliminate them.
Just as important, the management team and department heads must buy into the NPS survey methodology. There must be buy-in across every facet of the company to make real change happen at the organizational level and positively impact the customer experience. Customer feedback must be free to flow unfettered from the survey to process improvement.
2) Automate Accountability
It’s time to utilize your full suite of marketing and database technologies to its fullest potential. Integrate the survey results into your CRM for real-time updates, reporting capabilities, and much more. This is the most effective tactic I’ve found to increase your NPS.
- Integrate the Survey. Push the NPS survey results into your CRM for maximum flexibility and real-time reporting possibilities. Let’s use Salesforce as an example. SurveyGizmo has a great Salesforce plugin that will allow you to integrate survey results directly into Salesforce. I successfully pitched my current company on building a dedicated, custom object specifically made for survey results. Within the object, we’ve synced over every survey question, NPS result, written customer response, survey submission date, etc. These responses are 100% Salesforce reportable, accessible, and actionable.
- Setup a Feedback Loop. Leverage your automation software to pipe customer insights and feedback directly to sales management and the customer’s corresponding account executive. Today, my sales managers and account executives receive automated email notifications triggered from Marketo once a new survey is submitted and synced over to the custom object in Salesforce. This notification is filled with an array of actionable data, including: that specific customer’s NPS, reasons the customer gave that score, their suggestions for improving the process, a link to the contact, and any other product needs we haven’t covered.
The goal is to create a real-time, closed loop feedback system keeping sales, customer service, and the executive team directly on the pulse of the customer experience.
Think about the possibilities. A customer gives a score of 2 for reasons x, y, z. The key stakeholders are immediately notified of the score and draft a plan to address the customer’s issues. Furthermore, they can enact immediate process improvements to eliminate these friction points for all future customers. If the poor score is deemed to be as a result of human interaction and not process, sales management now has the insight to discipline or teach the account executive accordingly. If setup correctly, this is truly a powerful and, more importantly, scalable approach for companies to increase awareness of the overall customer experience and, in turn, increase their NPS.
- NPS Segmentation. Email notifications are a great way to provide sales with granular level feedback on their performance and overall customer satisfaction. But there’s another crucial step we need to take in order to paint the full customer experience picture. A single NPS may give you an idea of the overall experience, but what if your business has five to ten different segments, all with a different customer types? Segmenting the NPS is the next logical step. Say you have customers of product A, B, C, and D. Combined, they may show an NPS of 75, but upon a closer look, the scores are unevenly distributed: 40 for product A, 95 for product B, 85 for product C, and 80 for product D. It’s important not to assume that, because the overall score is high, every customer experience is remarkable. Without segmenting the scores, management would not be alerted to the score of 40 for the customers of product A. And as a result, that customer base’s experience would continue to suffer.
- The Dashboard. Monitoring these scores and how they’re trending over a period of time is paramount. Why? This will allow management to focus their improvement efforts on the pieces of the business where the Net Promoter Scores are lower. Using data analysis programs like Tableau is a great way to create a flexible and fully customized NPS dashboard. The way we’ve setup the NPS survey sync (see above) allows us to pull all the data from Salesforce and organize the scores effortlessly. Toss in some time filters for month-to-date and year-to-date filtering. Add in workbooks for scores by account executive, major accounts, product type, business segment, etc… The possibilities are truly endless. Sure it’s easy for management to say, “We’re committed to improving our customer experience and NPS.” Without a segmented NPS dashboard, I fear their efforts may be misplaced. Executives need to leverage NPS dashboards to first determine where the customer pain points exist, and then enact a solution.
- Compensation. I believe sales compensation should be directly tied to the customer experience (and NPS) of their customers.
One of management’s many roles is to protect the brand ruthlessly from external and internal forces.
I agree that a fantastic corporate culture where every employee strives towards a higher purpose can produce higher customer satisfaction. But, sometimes it’s just not enough. Employees easily lose sight of the big picture when they’re stuck in the daily grind and stress about hitting immediate goals at any cost. By tying a piece of sales’ commission directly to their customer’s overall experience (objectively measured by NPS), account executives are now motivated to ensure every customer experience is truly remarkable.
3) Internal Recognition
Often the easiest to setup (but least utilized), internal recognition is a great way to increase the NPS and it’s visibility within your organization. Every month, announce the account executives with the highest average NPS for their customer base. And make a scene! Get them up in front of the whole organization, deliver a care package with balloons, candy, food, etc… for everyone to see. Create a competitive environment around the NPS at the individual level. Almost every sales floor is naturally competitive; play off this basic human motivation and spin it to your organization’s, and ultimately your customer’s, benefit.
4) Install Customer Checkpoints
Simply put, become proactive instead of reactive. Anticipate every possible problem ahead of time and go out of your way to address them before the transaction is completed.
From prospecting to purchase, setup ‘customer checkpoints’ throughout the buyer’s journey.
This can be as simple as a single email asking customers if everything has been satisfactory so far or as complex as an automated multi-channel checkpoint campaign within each transaction.
For example, customer service reaches out early in the buying process to “check-in”. A little further down in the sales funnel, you send an automated email from their account executive, just to take the temperature of the relationship. To finish up, you send a direct mail piece one week before the NPS survey is sent. The direct mail should thank the customer for their business and communicate appreciation for choosing your organization (especially if you sell in a highly-competitive industry). It is crucial to ask the customer to call your customer service team if any part of the process was unsatisfactory. Giving the customer the opportunity to air their dissatisfaction allows your company to address any issues proactively before you send them the NPS survey.
Enkata conducted a study which concluded a preemptive customer service approach reduced call volumes by 30% and increased customer retention by 3-5%. But it goes even beyond that. There are extremely beneficial downstream effects to taking a proactive approach to customer service outside of NPS, such as:
- An increase in customer lifetime values
- Increased brand affinity
- Higher barriers to entry for the competition.
5) Plan on the Unexpected
My favorite out of the whole list may very well be this one. A great way to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction is simply to send them an unexpected gift. While this may seem trivial, studies have shown customer delights lead to increased repurchasing behavior and customer loyalty.
It’s often the tiniest of details that make the largest of impacts.
I still remember the customer delight I received from Jeep. A week or so after my purchase, they sent me a colorful direct mail piece with FAQs, upsells, and customer testimonials explaining all the different terrains a Jeep can tackle. When I opened the package, out dropped a leather Jeep keychain! It couldn’t have cost much more than $1, but I was thrilled. It is just one of the many reasons I’ll stick with Jeep for the rest of my life. Yes, a $1 leather keychain. It doesn’t take much people!
Needless to say, an unexpected gift is an extremely effective tactic to close out a customer’s initial experience with your company and brand. If you leave the customer at their happiest point, the likelihood of them experiencing post purchase dissonance decreases. Even better, the possibility of them returning for a second purchase increases drastically.
Your organization must adopt a proactive, customer centric business model to survive in today’s marketplace. Your best asset is the relationship between your business and your customer base, and often your only meaningful differentiator. Simply put, the customer experience is too important to monitor with anecdotal and situational feedback. With the guidance above, you can begin to install systematic tactics to help your company monitor and implement change to the customer experience at the organizational level.