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4 Tips for Success with NPS

If you search for the phrase “customer satisfaction survey” online, you’ll get millions of results.  Start to click on the links and you’ll find that there are numerous approaches you can take when designing a customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey for your contact center.  One method that has seen a lot of attention in recent years is Net Promoter Score (NPS), based on findings that this approach correlates more to revenue growth than other CSAT measures.  We’ve been using NPS since 2008 and it has worked well for our organization.  If you’ve heard of NPS but aren’t sure what it is all about, this post will cover the basics and provide some tips for successfully implementing it.

The concept of NPS is based on the customer’s rating of their willingness to recommend your organization, on a scale of zero to 10.  Any respondent giving you a 9 or a 10 is considered a promoter, while anyone giving you a 7 or an 8 is considered “passive”.  On the other hand, any score 6 or below is considered a detractor.  You calculate the Net Promoter Score by subtracting the percentage of overall respondents that were detractors from the percentage of overall respondents that were promoters.  So, if you had 100 respondents and 80 were promoters, 10 were passives, and 10 were detractors, your Net Promoter Score would be 70 (80% promoters - 10% detractors).

Tip #1: Note that the rating scale mentioned above was zero to 10, as opposed to 1 to 10. 

Why?  Research shows (and our own experience has proven this to be correct) that by making “zero” the bottom value of the scale, you eliminate any confusion over whether 1 is the best score or 10 is the best score, thus giving you more accurate CSAT results.

NPS first received a lot of attention with the publication of the book The Ultimate Question, which gave many people the impression that only this one question matters and there’s no need to ask a long series of questions.  However, that’s not exactly true.  In fact, the most important question on the survey is the one that comes right after the zero-to-10 rating.  You should ask something along the lines of: “If you gave us less than a 10, please let us know why so we can address it.”  This is the actionable information that matters.

Right now, some of you may be thinking that this doesn’t seem much different from other CSAT surveys.  However, what we’ve found is that NPS really gets to the heart of what’s on the mind of the customer.  If we just ask them to rate the agent they spoke with or their satisfaction with all aspects of their phone call, it may obscure the fact that the customer has other concerns, even if they’re happy with the call.  We read these surveys closely and use the information to drive improvement in a number of ways.  First, we have staff follow up with detractors ASAP, not only to learn more about the situation if appropriate, especially if it is something we still have an opportunity to rectify, but also because it sends a message to these clients that their feedback was reviewed promptly and it mattered enough to us to reach out to them.  We’ve found that this really goes a long way.

Tip #2:  Sometimes, we aren’t able to solve an issue right away, especially if it is related to an issue with the software we sell. 

However, we may be able to address it at a later date.  We keep track of which clients report various concerns and once an issue is resolved, we contact the client again to close the loop and let them know it has been addressed.  This also makes a very positive impression on customers and gives us added credibility that we really listen.

We also broadly categorize the comments and ascertain which areas are driving the most dissatisfaction.  Our Client Relations team focuses on all of this survey activity, not only in terms of client followup but also internal dissemination of our results.  All survey responses are loaded into our CRM for anyone to review and our NPS scores are prominently shown on display boards throughout our office, as well as monthly reports.

Tip #3:  While we report on our NPS results monthly, we report it as a 3-month rolling result.

Some of our products do not get as many survey responses as others, plus we have seasonal fluctuations in our contact center activity.  By calculating an NPS score over the most recent three months of results, it tends to reduce, if not eliminate, wide fluctuations from one month to the next, which can occur at times, and makes it easier to see how the score is trending.

As I alluded to earlier, not all of the comments are going to be about your contact center.  There are a number of pros and cons to this, but I’ll mention two notable benefits and one notable drawback.  One benefit is exactly what I stated up above; you’ll learn what’s really on the mind of your customer, regardless of the performance of the call center agent.  The second benefit is that this process really does increase understanding throughout the organization of what areas would most benefit from improvement.  It has given our contact center agents a deeper understanding of other issues that concern our customers and has empowered them to get more involved in seeking solutions.  It is not uncommon for staff members from different functional departments in our company to discuss ways to make improvements to our products, services, and other client-facing efforts in all aspects of our business.  Of course, the flip side of this coin is that, on occasion, some of the survey results regarding our call center can be lower than desired, despite the agent doing a great job.  So, it can be a morale issue for the agents if not handled well, which leads to my next tip:

Tip #4:  Communicate to the entire staff what NPS is about, how it works, and that it will successfully generate actionable feedback in a variety of areas, not just the performance of your agents. 

If you build a process that allows you to effectively act on this feedback, you’ll be solving problems that will drive up the NPS scores across the board on an ongoing basis and everyone will benefit.

Upon implementing this process, we immediately noticed an improvement in our ability to understand and address the real issues causing concern for our clients.  Our call center NPS score has risen steadily over the past 5 years and is currently above 70.  Over the same time period, we’ve seen notable growth in our revenues and the size of our customer base, in part due to the fact over roughly one-third of all new sales come from customer referrals.  NPS has worked well for us and I’m confident it can help your organization also, as long as you realize it isn’t just about reporting the score - you need to really address the feedback.

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