Every year at our client conference we give out awards. They focus on the best in divisions, the best overall, the most improvement from the previous year, and a smattering of goofy ones that make our clients laugh. But we were missing something, the ability for our clients to tell their customers about their improvements.
As you probably know by now, The Daniel Group does follow-up telephone surveys with randomly chosen customers. These are customers who purchased new equipment or had a service experience. Once a survey is completed, the data is available to you, in real time, in our LinkConnect, our online portal. We ask several questions of customers but one that is a critical indicator is the NPS question.
NPS or Net Promoter Score is a question that indicates to us how likely a customer is to recommend. It is based on a 10 point scale. If customers respond with a 9 or 10, they are “Promoter” customers. These are the customers that research has proven tend to be most loyal and talk positively about you to others. Customers who give a 7 or 8 answer are “Passives.” “Detractors” are those who respond with a 6 or less on the NPS question. The NPS is simply the percentage of “Detractor” customers subtracted from the percentage of “Promoters.” Simple as that.
Based on our work there is a small percentage of customers that will be Detractors no matter what you do. If you are going to affect a positive move in your NPS, the focus needs to be on the Passives. These are the more difficult customers with which to deal.
Why do we say that? A Detractor customer is usually sufficiently upset to be quite willing to let you know what is wrong. A Passive customer was neither totally displeased nor pleased. To borrow an apt metaphor, there is a burr under the saddle blanket that is annoying. The challenge is to find out where, under the blanket, it is.
This means, first of all, talking to these Passive customers. A phone call or, even better, a personal visit is needed. We suggest the following steps:
- Get familiar with all the documentation associated with the transaction. This includes work orders, warranty claims, and the survey itself. See what clues, if any, there are.
- When you meet with the customer, I suggest a direct approach. For example, “On the recent survey of (make certain to describe the transaction so there is no confusion), you gave us an 8 on the likelihood to recommend question. What could we have done better to get a higher score?”
- Many times customers will say “I only give 8’s. To me, this is a high score.” Our research shows that those customers who are Passive and give the reason they do not score higher will actually score higher in future experiences IF the service is measurably better. Try to probe a bit more.
- More than likely the reason for the Passive score had more to do with the way the customer was treated by someone than how effectively the service was delivered. Unless the treatment was especially rude many customers are reluctant to talk about it. You may wish to ask them the following: “Did our people act like they valued you as customer?” Depending on your relationship with the customer you can either ask it as a Yes/No question or a scale question. If you get a No or a low rating on the scale then you can probe as to how that could be better demonstrated.
We have found through our many years of research at The Daniel Group that Detractor customers are typically easier to work with. You will find out what the problems are. Passives are different and are truly “in the middle.” Your challenge is to understand why they are there and what needs to change to move them to Promoters. This is where your ability to get a customer to talk about the REAL concerns is critical.
I was at a seminar last week and heard a very interesting presentation from an executive with Google. I want to share a few points from his presentation and highlight some earlier points I have made in various white papers and blogs. I do this because the potential for engaging customers emotionally is often overlooked, especially in the B-to-B market. Managers tend to think that their industrial buyers are simply making cold, hard business decisions that are absent an emotional element. It is time to rethink this assumption.