Interview with René Versluis

Photo: Sanne Donders
 

Interview with René Versluis, NPS Expert

 

KPN is a leading telecommunications and IT provider and market leader here in the Netherlands. As well as supporting several million consumers, KPN also supports corporate customers in the areas of infrastructure, workplace management, the cloud, security, data networks and data centres.

Our CEO John O’Connor recently caught up with René Versluis, who has been responsible for running the Net Promoter Score (NPS) programme at KPN’s corporate division for several years. René is a genuine expert in running a customer feedback programme in a large corporate business to business (B2B) environment.

I hope you enjoy this short interview with René Versluis.

Pim Braat
Deep-Insight Regional Manager, Benelux

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René Versluis and NPS

John: René can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your involvement with Net Promotor Scores (NPS)?
René: Sure, John. I have worked with KPN for more than 15 years and I have had a series of commercial and sales roles during that time. In recent years, I have been a programme director for some of KPN’s strategic projects including responsibility for setting up and running its Net Promoter Score (NPS) programme for corporate clients. The trigger for KPN creating that role and asking me to take ownership was the fact that KPN values its corporate clients and is interested in their feedback in the fast developing world.
 

The Importance of Good Governance and Follow-Up

John: What were the first things you did when you took on this new role?
René: Leadership is important so my very first step was to create an NPS board which included many of the senior leaders in the company. We met initially every single week. This was an important step in setting the right governance for the programme.
John: Would you say that the NPS programme was successful?
René: Yes, I would say we had a lot of success with the NPS programme. We got feedback from customers but more important, we took action. If a client score needed to be improved, we implemented a Client Improvement Plan. We also insisted on closed loop feedback with each client. That means that within four weeks of a survey taking place, the account director created this Client Improvement Plan and discussed, agreed and shared that plan with the client.
 

Lessons Learned

John: What lessons did you learn from running the programme? Or to put the question a different way, what advice would you give to yourself if you were to start all over again?
René: I don’t think I would have changed anything fundamentally. I have mentioned the importance of leadership. The other thing that is important is setting realistic targets. You can’t change the culture of an organisation if you set targets that are not achievable.
John: How did the NPS Board change the culture in the organisation to make it more customer-centric?
René: One of the techniques that we used when people came to us with a proposition was to ask them: “What is the effect of that on the NPS score?” If you keep asking that question, eventually people recognise that any proposal or any investment needs to be made with the customer in mind. If it’s not and people can’t articulate a clear benefit for the customer, then it’s a wasted investment. I would also say that you need to work very closely with key clients – you can’t assume that you have the right answer. You must make sure the client thinks it’s the right answer.
 

The Future

John: You’ve recently left KPN after more than 15 years. What do you plan to do now?
René: I’m not ready to retire just yet! I think I have learned enough from my time at KPN to help other companies thinking about embarking on their customer experience of NPS programmes. Net Promoter is a great tool but it needs to be applied correctly in B2B environments.
John: The very best of luck, René, and thanks again for sharing those insights with us.
 

Does your Net Promoter Score (NPS) matter?

DOES YOUR NET PROMOTER SCORE (NPS) REALLY MATTER? To answer this it is important to really understand what we asking our customers when we use NPS

Recently, after a perfectly OK meal in a restaurant, someone asked me this question: Would I recommend the restaurant to friends or family? Without hesitation, I said ‘N0’. Queue shock and gasps. The meal was ok, the service was fine, the atmosphere was nice. How could I be so mean?

I didn’t think I was being mean. It was all fine but a recommendation from me is a reflection on me, it is saying something about me and my standards – for food of all things. I certainly wouldn’t recommend a food experience that was a bit, well, “meh

In the professional B2B world the stakes are a lot higher. Social Media – yes that includes LinkedIn – has created a whole business out of self-promotion. Recommending or promoting someone else’s business is an easy way to do this with little effort. It is the ultimate win/win. A recommendation from a customer is the most effective sales tool you can have and in turn, the recommend-er gets to add value to their brand. But this delicate equilibrium can only exist if your customers trust that recommending your business, and your company’s hard work, will reflect well on them.

So, how do you find out if your customers trust you enough to recommend you? Enter Net Promoter Score or NPS. A clever, albeit obvious, idea –ask them!

And we have been asking, NPS is everywhere and we are obsessed. It can influence the whole mood of an organisation. But can you confidently say that that all of your promoters really are recommending your company? Not until you answer at least the following questions:

Are your Senior Leaders driving a culture of valuing the feedback, not the score?

We are often asked: ‘Do you measure NPS? Head Office needs us to provide an NPS number’.

One does not need a doctorate in psychology to know that if there is motivation, implied gain or actual gain, to reach a target number, then that will drive certain behaviors to reach that number. A commitment to consistently gathering the data with integrity needs to come from the leadership team, visibly and regularly. Helping our clients get this engagement from their leadership team is the first thing we do in any CX project, see how we do it here.

Is your organisation measuring it with integrity, or are you chasing a number?

Teams are often trained to find clever ways of making sure that NPS moves in the right direction. A new and improved NPS score is then announced and celebrated. NPS is very useful but only if the culture and approach for gathering it ensure that it is done with the intention of really understand the customer. It’s crucial that organisations do not distract by chasing and competing for a number. This is about the customer after all.

Is Transactional NPS concealing the truth?

Yes, in the last 5 minutes I had a great experience with your customer service team member. But will I recommend your business just based on this? No, of course not. But I will answer 10 because I am a nice person and I don’t want the individual who just really helped me to suffer. This use of NPS is manipulative and gives you absolutely no insight into your customers’ intentions for recommending you.

So, does your NPS score matter?

Does it reflect if your customers are actually recommending you in the marketplace, or has your organisation become better at understanding how and when to gather the responses in order to ensure a score is achieved?

Only when you can answer that should anyone care what the score is.

 
Does NPS Work for B2B Companies
 

* Net Promoter® and NPS® are registered trademarks and Net Promoter SystemSM and Net Promoter ScoreSM are trademarks of Bain & Company, Satmetrix Systems and Fred Reichheld

Deep-Insight seen as ‘Unique’ in 2019 CRQ assessment

Our 2019 Customer Relationship Quality Results

A big Thank You to all of our clients and channel partners who completed our CRQ assessment this year! It provided us with a wealth of feedback. We are humbled that you have given us such positive scores and we are thrilled with both the overall results and the detailed responses that we received.

In summary: we had an overall completion rate of 49%, a CRQ score of 6.0 and a Net Promoter score of +53%. This is the strongest set of scores that we have ever received.
CRQ and NPS CRQ assessment

Regaining our Unique Status

Our scores this year mean that we are now back into ‘Unique’ territory, which we just missed out on last year. Uniqueness requires a combination of a winning ‘Solution’ and a great ‘Experience’. Last year, our ‘Solution’ scores had slipped and over the past 12 months we have been working hard to regain this ‘Unique’ status. It’s very gratifying to see all of our hard work paying off.

Unique Solution and Unique Experience CRQ assessment

Deep-Dive: New and Improved

We have reflected a bit on last year’s journey for Deep-Insight and why we regained our Unique status. As a result of your feedback last year, we took your comments on board and put together a plan to upgrade our Deep-Dive platform. As a result, we have recently rolled out Deep-Dive v1.1 which is faster, has more features and allows our clients to access individual account reports at a click of a button. The work that the development team put into Deep-Dive has paid off as we have seen our ‘Solution’ scores increase from 4.9 to 5.7 this year and we have already received some very positive feedback regarding our upgraded Deep-Dive platform.

Our Plans for 2019?

Even though we received an amazing set of scores this year and we are thrilled with the results, that does not mean we will take a break. We have put our heads together and came up with the following action points for the upcoming months.

No. 1 – Share Results with All Clients – and Create Joint Action PLans

We tell our clients to share their results with their customers as this is a very effective way of building strong relationships. In the past we have sometimes been guilty of not taking our own advice but this year we plan on doing exactly that with all of our clients. Expect us to reach out to you in the very near future so that we can review your feedback together and see how Deep-Insight can be more effective this year at helping you achieve your 2019 objectives.

No. 2 – More Support with Account Management 

This year we asked you to what you use our services for. The answer? You use Deep-Insight and primarily as an Account Management/ Customer Retention tool, followed closely by Customer Experience feedback.

Customer Portfolio CRQ assessment
The message for us at Deep-Insight is that we need to spend more time with our clients at the start of any assessment to understand how you segment your client base, how you allocate account managers and service teams to those accounts, and how we can help you get more account-based insights from using the Deep-Dive platform. We also need to be more supportive in helping you use the results to manage those accounts more effectively. This is one area we would specifically like to explore with each of you in the coming weeks.

No. 3 – Aim for a Higher Response Rate in 2020

This is more of an internal action for us at Deep-Insight. A 49% response rate is not bad but we know that some of you set targets of 60% or higher, and you achieve them. We will be aiming for a 60% completion rate in 2020. We always advise our clients to work with their account teams to achieve the highest response rate possible, so for next year we will definitely put a stronger focus on this for ourselves as well.
Thank you again for your time and input into this year’s customer assessment. We will be in touch shortly.

John O’Connor

How to Maximise Completion Rates for a CX Programme?

B2B Customer Experience (CX) programmes are our bread and butter at Deep-Insight and we’re used to handling questions on how to make CX programmes more effective.

One of the questions we often get from first-time clients is: “What completion rates can I expect from my CX programme?” Another common question from longer-term clients is “How do I improve my completion rates?”

Let’s deal with each question in turn.

“What completion rates can I expect from my CX programme?”

Let me preface this by saying that we are talking about business-to-business (B2B) relationships so there is an inherent assumption in the question that our clients have some existing – and hopefully strong – relationships with their clients and that the contacts in the client organisation will be receptive to a request to give feedback as part of that ongoing relationship.

This is usually the case but clients – particularly senior clients – are busy people so it may not come as a surprise to hear that the average participation rate in a B2B customer assessment is around 35%.

But that 35% figure is an aggregate score and there’s a little more to it than that, if you have a look at the graph below.

completion rates CX Programme

It turns out that the most common completion rate is 26-30% but we have a smaller number of clients – typically clients who have been running our Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) assessments for many years – who regularly achieve completion rates of 50% and higher.

If this is your first time running a customer assessment – either a simple Net Promoter Score survey of something a little more complex like our CRQ relationship assessments – you can expect completion rates of less than 1 in 3.

This may sound OK if you regularly run consumer surveys where a 5% completion rate can be a good result, but for an existing long-standing B2B client relationship, it looks paltry. And yet we have been running customer assessments of all sorts for nearly 20 years and these are the actual numbers.

So now let’s get to the second question: “How do I improve my completion rates?”

“How do I improve my completion rates?”

The starting point is to understand why some B2B companies sometimes get low completion rates and others consistently exceed 50%.

Our lowest-ever completion rate (4%) came from a first-time UK software company where the quality of contact data was simply terrible – people who had left their companies three years earlier, people who had never even heard of our client, and so on. That’s because the Account Managers did not personally sign off the client contact names. You get the picture.

Our highest-ever completion rate came from a company that has been a client of Deep-Insight’s for 10 years and whose customers view the annual CRQ assessment as an important part of their ongoing strategic relationship with our client.

But there are other reasons for low and high participation rates – here’s a quick summary of the profiles of our clients that fit into both categories:

completion rates CX Programme

Try these 6 steps in order to improve your completion rates for a CX programme:

  1. Make It Strategic. If the CX programme is CEO-led and driven from the top, it will not be seen as another box-ticking exercise. Make sure this is a key item on the Executive agenda.
  2. Put in Governance Structures. By this we mean things like: a) Account Directors should supervise and sign all contact names, not just pull them from the CRM system; b) the Sales Director should personally sign off all Strategic Client contact names.
  3. Don’t call it a Survey! At Deep-Insight, we ban the use of the term “survey” . For us, a CRQ assessment is a strategic ongoing conversation with the clients and their views will be taken seriously.
  4. “Warm Up” the Contacts. An invitation to complete a survey should not come out of the blue. Ideally, it should be introduced by letter or by email by the CEO or Country Manager, and while an assessment is “live”, the account manager will know to stay in touch with the client and urge them to complete the assessment.
  5. Close the Loop. This is critical. If you ask for feedback, you need to share that feedback with the client, agree the actions that BOTH PARTIES will take to improve the relationship.
  6. Repeat. Get into a rhythm where your clients and your sales/account teams know that every February or October (or whenever), the annual strategic assessment will take place. You may want to run frequent assessments. Some companies have quarterly Net Promoter or Pulse assessments – but don’t overdo the frequency. Your organisation needs time to put remedial actions into effect.

If you are interested in reading more about running a CX programme effectively take a look at our process or contact us at sales@deep-insight.com.

 
Does NPS Work for B2B Companies