How Do I Improve my Net Promoter Scores?
14.09.2017 , by John

Some years ago, the focus in NPS discussions on the far side of the pond – remember that Net Promoter Score is an American metric for customer advocacy – moved from “How do I measure NPS?” to “How do I improve NPS?”

In Europe we are still a few years behind the USA but the question of improving net promoter scores will dominate executive leadership discussions on this side of the pond for the next few years.

INSIGHTS FROM A DECADE’S WORTH OF B2B NPS DATA

Deep-Insight has been gathering NPS data since 2006 across more than 80 countries for B2B firms operating across a variety of different industries. A few years ago, we integrated NPS into our Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) methodology. We now have tens of thousands of data points – all exclusively from B2B companies – showing what items are strongly correlated with NPS and what items are not.

A quick word on terminology: Accounts where you have the strongest and deepest relationships are called Ambassadors. An Ambassador account will typically have many ‘Promoters’ and few ‘Detractors’. At the other end of the relationship spectrum are accounts that we call Stalkers and Opponents. These accounts typically have few ‘Promoters’ and a large number of ‘Detractors’. The pie chart on the right shows what a typical client portfolio looks like for a European B2B organisation – the majority of accounts have good relationships and a third of accounts have excellent relationships.

As the graphic on the left shows, the key elements of any business relationship are TrustCommitment and Satisfaction. It will come as no surprise that each of these elements is highly correlated with a customer’s willingness to recommend a company (the NPS or advocacy scores). But Trust, Commitment and Satisfaction are only the outcomes of other elements of performance. We need to delve a little deeper to find out which areas to concentrate on in order to improve a company’s overall Net Promoter Score.

PROMOTERS, PASSIVES AND DETRACTORS: THEY ARE DIFFERENT

It’s important to recognise that any large account is likely to have a combination of Promoters, Passives and Detractors. Different strategies are required for dealing with each category of individual. We also need to recognise that the actions required to turn Detractors into Passives are different to the actions required to turn Passives into Promoters.

Based on more than a decade’s worth of data, we know what you need to focus on to turn insight into action. Here’s a quick summary of what we have learned.

ACTIONS TO TURN DETRACTORS INTO PASSIVES

  • Make your customers feel valued. The one thing you should do, above everything else, to turn Detractors into Passives is to have empathy with them. Show a willingness to engage. Listen to them and make them feel valued. Accounts that generate extremely low advocacy scores (0 – 3 out of 10) do so because your contacts in that account feel both unloved and frustrated. Unloved because they feel ignored; frustrated because they believe you are not interested in solving their problems. Even if there is little that you can do as a service manager or account manager to fix their problems immediately, you need to tell them that you understand how they feel and that you will do your utmost to address their issues. And be honest – if it’s going to take six months, don’t tell them six weeks.

ACTIONS TO TURN PASSIVES INTO PROMOTERS

  • Differentiate yourselves from your competitors. The more you can differentiate yourself from the competition, the more you will be seen as ‘Leading Edge.’ Our analysis tells us that if you are perceived as a leading-edge company, your NPS score will be higher. By the way, there’s no point in trying to discuss innovation with Detractors – they just want you to address their immediate problems. Once you have done that, you have earned the right to demonstrate that you are an innovative and leading edge organisation. Not before.
  • Provide value for money. This is linked to the previous point – the more differentiated you are and the more unique your offering is, the greater the value you deliver to your client. Passives think you provide good value for money. Promoters think you provide excellent value for money. Price is rarely the issue. Focus of what you can do to increase the value of what you deliver rather than on the price at which you deliver it.

ACTIONS – ALL CUSTOMERS

  • Make it easier for your customers to do business with you. Regardless of whether you are a Promoter, Passive or Detractor, there is a very strong correlation between ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and NPS. So try to become less bureaucratic. Break down the silos between departments. Build cross-functional teams. Look at your processes and figure out how to simplify them. Get your clients involved – just ask them.
  • Be proactive. Customers want you to respond quickly and effectively to their needs. That means not just reacting to problems as they occur. It means anticipating problems before they occur. That’s what good account management is all about.

If you’re interested in turning NPS data into a programme that really improves retention rates and revenues, just get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you.