Over the past few years I have had many discussions with clients regarding the need to improve processes as part of improving the customer experience.  I agree with the need to improve processes as a part of an overall improvement strategy for service improvement.  However, great processes can only go so far as is illustrated by an observation and some information presented at our recent client conference.

First, the observation: Two clients have consistently been among our top performing companies in customer service ratings.  However, if you spend much time at these organizations, which I have, you come to quickly understand that the great service they deliver is not because of great processes.  In fact, they are probably the least process-oriented companies I know.  Yet, year after year they have consistently high customer satisfaction ratings.  By other measures such as rates of referral, etc., customers seem quite loyal.  As I observe both companies I find that taking care of the customer and delivering great service is part of the DNA of both companies.  Employees know from the first day of employment that keeping the customer happy is a critical part of the job.

Second, the information: At our recent client conference one of our clients presented an analysis of reasons why customers who rated them less than 9 on the NPS question did so.  Since he is a Six Sigma black belt, he was specifically looking for process breakdowns.  Surprisingly, he found that a process failure accounted for just over 50% of the reasons for a lower score on the likelihood to refer.  What accounted for the remainder?  According to our client’s analysis it’s the way customers were treated by employees.  In short, it’s the behaviors they encountered when they had a service experience.  By the way, a second client replicated the study and found something similar in their organization.

I will have more to say about this in future blogs but there is one clear message from my observation and this information.  If you are trying to create a great service experience by installing a new CRM system and improving other processes, you are only going to get about halfway there.


Net Promoter and NPS are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld, and Satmetrix Systems.  

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