improve customer service

Three Ways to Stop Your NPS Program From Destroying Your Customer Experience

I love NPS programs (Net Promoter Score)--when they’re designed and executed well. When I was at Verizon,  The Ultimate Question was required reading for every manager on my team.

And today, most of my clients use NPS in one way or another and we work to ensure that their internal metrics are helpful indicators of the view from the outside.

But when implemented poorly, I’ve seen NPS programs tick off valued customers who otherwise were having a reasonable customer experience.

If you haven’t kicked the tires on your NPS program for a while, be sure you’re focused on the three vital areas.

Three Ways to Stop Your NPS Program From Destroying Your Culture

  1. Incent your employees to play the game, not game the score. Last week I was eating at a diner at BWI airport. I couldn’t help but overhear as the overly cheesy waiter with the bad jokes and the mixed up drink orders serving the couple at the table next to me offered to “Take 5 bucks off their bill right now” if they would take the online survey  and “Rate me a 5 out of 5 for the exceptional experience I have provided you. Oh, and be sure to mention my name.”  When employees are incented by the score, they’ll care more about the rating than the experience. Even if those customers took the five bucks, their score is clearly not an indicator of their experience that day. No one walks away a promoter after being bribed.
  2. If they tell you it’s broken, do what you can to fix it. A few hours after the diner incident, my client called with an emergency change in plans and asked to put push our meetings back a day. I called the hotel chain where I have stayed close to 400 nights and asked if I could modify my reservation. I was informed that they would be happy to move the reservation up (still staying two days) but that I would still be responsible for paying for the night I had to cancel. I was frustrated, but the policy was on their side. I wasn’t going to make a fuss. Until… I went to the hotel (which was practically empty) and one thing after another went wrong… only decaf coffee in the room, shampoo not refilled, dirty everywhere, unfriendly staff. So when I logged in to their Wifi that night and they asked me to take a survey. I did and rated them a 3 with all the reasons. Within 10 seconds another window came up asking me for my room number so they could make it right. Then the next window that popped up was inviting me to leave a Trip Advisor review!  (Which I didn’t, out of long term loyalty to this company). It’s a week later and no one has contacted me to “make it right” as promised.They would have been better off not setting that expectation, and certainly not inviting detractors to leave a Trip Advisor review!

    And…
  3. Take the long view on detractors. Of course “making it right” is a good start, but doesn’t do much good if you don’t fix the root cause of the issues. I’ll never forget my first week on the job as a call center director. My team leaders were all stressed out, with more work to do than they could possibly get done. When I did an analysis of how they were spending their time, I found they were spending hours a day calling back customer detractors (people who had rated us less than 5 on the NPS). Most of these detractors had issues that could be categorized in one of three categories. There were NO plans in place to identify and discuss themes at a center level and to address the root cause. Yes, yes, call your detractors and do what you can to make it right. But don’t forget to use the data strategically to fix the process and policy issues driving your customers crazy.

Customers don’t care about your internal customer scorecard. Be sure every employee on your team knows what matters most. Focus on the game, don’t game the score.

Why NPS (Net Promoter Score) is Never Enough

The call center had ventured into this unknown territory organically. Their leadership knew their processes needed rigor, so they called me in to take a look and help them create a scalable model.

My basic question, “How do you measure performance?” was met with an embarrassed silence followed by the awkward answer, “Attendance and adherence to schedule.”

Now you don’t need to be a customer service genius to know that measuring whether reps show up to work is not enough to guarantee a best-in-class customer experience. Most centers at least use NPS (Net Promoter Score), which measures whether the customer would recommend the company to a friend. But this project was different, and that wasn’t so easy.

My expectations lowered, I asked, “Would it be okay for me to sit with some reps?” And that’s when the real surprise began.

I watched as each rep passionately explained their processes.

“Oh my gosh, I love my job, I just can’t wait to help customers. You see this guy here? He thinks everything is fixed, but I dug a bit deeper and I know we can help him more. It takes a few extra clicks to get what I need, but it’s worth it.”

“Well, each morning before I get to work, I go onto our–and our competitor’s–Facebook page to see if anything hot might have surfaced since my last shift. Stuff changes fast, and it’s important to come into work fully prepared.”

“The best part of our work is that no one gives us a script, we are each able to use our own unique style as long as we follow the basic guidelines. Customers love that. We also share what works best with one another.”

I reviewed customer conversation after conversation. I surely would recommend these reps to a friend. They were scoring “10s” on an invisible scoreboard.

My mind raced to the week before when I had met with the builder for our new home.

“Okay, here’s a survey you need to fill out.  I only get my bonus if you give me a 10. It’s really important that you answer 10 to these three questions. I don’t care what you put for the rest of the survey, you can be as honest as you want on those. In fact, that’s how we know what to improve. But whatever you do, please give me a 10. In fact, let me just circle that in for you.”

If he worked for me, I would have fired him.

But, here’s where it gets trickier. This guy’s going to be our project manager for the next year. He’ll have discretion about whether he fixes our borderline problems on our new home. The wackiest part is until that conversation it had been a 10 experience.

My gut says, report this stupidity his boss, but then what? And of course, I have no way of knowing if his boss isn’t playing the same game. I wonder how many other new home owners leave their final walk-through feeling similarly gamed?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for NPS and other CSAT (customer satisfaction) measures. I will help that call center build a meaningful balanced scorecard, and recommend they include NPS, but not without telling this cautionary tale.

The spirit of NPS is easily destroyed when mathematical gymnastics trump a sincere desire to improve.

If you’re using NPS, be sure you dig deeper. Follow-up with your promoters. “Why would you recommend us?” Give them a chance to say, “Because I didn’t want your rep to get fired.”

Want to give your customer service a competitive edge? I’d love to help you dig deeper. Please give me a call at 443/750-1249 for a free consultation. 

Are Your Meetings Effective? Measure Your Meeting "Net Promoter Score"

Do you run effective meetings?

When was the last time someone left one of your meetings and told everyone, “that was a GREAT meeting. You’ve really got to come next time.”

Do you have a good sense of what they are saying?

Would they come if they had a choice?

Many companies use the idea of the Net Promoter Score asking the “Ultimate Question” to measure their customer service. This question asks, “on a scale of 1-10 how likely would you be to recommend us to your friend or colleague?” The system’s not perfect, but there is beauty in its simplicity. The best information comes from taking a deeper look at what the “promoters (those who would recommend) say vs. the “detractors (those who would not).”

Try ending your meetings with a simple question

Would you recommend this meeting to a friend?

or variations on the theme…

Was this meeting a good use of your time?

Will you be more effective as a result of this meeting?

Do You Have Meeting Promoters or Detractors?

Consider the last meeting you facilitated. Would you have more promoters or detractors? What would each of these groups say on their way out the door.

Themes from meeting promoters

“The meeting had a clear purpose and agenda”

“All the right people were there”

“Everyone contributed”

“We stayed right on topic”

“We made lots of decisions”

“I know just what to do next”

Themes from Meeting Detractors

“It was more of a one-way information dump”

“I am not really sure what that meeting was about”

“The right people weren’t there”

“We didn’t stay on topic”

“We didn’t make any decisions”

“We were just there to update our boss”

How do you know your meetings are effective? When is the last time you asked?

PS: You may find this article from Patrick at Hello Focus intriguing. Some interesting stuff about meetings here!

Are Your Meetings Effective? Measure Your Meeting “Net Promoter Score”

Do you run effective meetings?

When was the last time someone left one of your meetings and told everyone, “that was a GREAT meeting. You’ve really got to come next time.”

Do you have a good sense of what they are saying?

Would they come if they had a choice?

Many companies use the idea of the Net Promoter Score asking the “Ultimate Question” to measure their customer service. This question asks, “on a scale of 1-10 how likely would you be to recommend us to your friend or colleague?” The system’s not perfect, but there is beauty in its simplicity. The best information comes from taking a deeper look at what the “promoters (those who would recommend) say vs. the “detractors (those who would not).”

Try ending your meetings with a simple question

Would you recommend this meeting to a friend?

or variations on the theme…

Was this meeting a good use of your time?

Will you be more effective as a result of this meeting?

Do You Have Meeting Promoters or Detractors?

Consider the last meeting you facilitated. Would you have more promoters or detractors? What would each of these groups say on their way out the door.

Themes from meeting promoters

“The meeting had a clear purpose and agenda”

“All the right people were there”

“Everyone contributed”

“We stayed right on topic”

“We made lots of decisions”

“I know just what to do next”

Themes from Meeting Detractors

“It was more of a one-way information dump”

“I am not really sure what that meeting was about”

“The right people weren’t there”

“We didn’t stay on topic”

“We didn’t make any decisions”

“We were just there to update our boss”

How do you know your meetings are effective? When is the last time you asked?

PS: You may find this article from Patrick at Hello Focus intriguing. Some interesting stuff about meetings here!