Some years ago, the focus of NPS discussions on the far side of the pond changed. It used to be: “How do I measure NPS?” Now it’s: “How do I improve my Net Promoter Score?”
Remember that Net Promoter Score is an American metric for customer advocacy. Europe is still a few years behind the USA and the topic of how to improve NPS results will dominate executive leadership discussions in Europe for the next few years. If you’re a leader in a European B2B company, this blog is for you – it’s about the 5 actions to improve your Net Promoter Score.
Insight from a Decade’s Worth of B2B NPS Data
Deep-Insight has been gathering NPS data since 2006. This data comes from B2B firms operating across a variety of different industries in more than 80 countries. A few years ago, we integrated NPS into our Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) methodology. We now have tens of thousands of data points – exclusively from B2B companies – showing which items are strongly correlated with NPS and which are not.
A quick word on our terminology:
Accounts where you have the strongest and deepest relationships are called Ambassadors. An Ambassador typically has many ‘Promoters’ and few ‘Detractors’. At the other end of the relationship spectrum are Stalkers and Opponents. These accounts typically have few ‘Promoters’ and a large number of ‘Detractors’.
The pie chart on the right shows a client portfolio for a typical 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 Trust, Commitment 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 deeper to find out which areas to concentrate on in order to improve a company’s overall Net Promoter Score.
5 Actions to Improve your Net Promoter Score
Based on more than a decade’s worth of data, we know the five things you need to do to improve your Net Promoter Score.
But first things first. Any large account is likely to have a combination of Promoters, Passives and Detractors and different strategies are required for dealing with each category. The actions required to turn Detractors into Passives are not the same as the actions required to turn Passives into Promoters.
Here’s a quick summary of those 5 actions.
Actions to Turn Detractors into Passives
- 1. 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 people in those accounts 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 you can do immediately as a service manager or account manager to fix their problems, tell them that you understand how they feel. Tell them you will do your utmost to address their issues. But be honest – if it’s going to take six months, don’t say six weeks.
Actions to Turn Passives into Promoters
- 2. DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM YOUR COMPETITORS. The more you 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’re not in listening mode. They simply 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.
- 3. 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 clients. 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
- 4. MAKE IT EASY FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU. Regardless of whether you are a Promoter, Passive or Detractor, there is a high correlation between ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and NPS. 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. They want to be involved
- 5. 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 full-fledged customer experience (CX) programme that really improves retention rates and revenues, get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you.