Product Management: First Month, First Insights

Rose Murphy
Product Manager, Deep-Insight

I’m delighted to start my new role as Product Manager. It’s an exciting challenge for me and for Deep-Insight. But where do I start? What do I do first?

Having spent ten years working my way up to Operations Director in Deep-Insight, I know our products and services like the back of my hand. I’d like to think I have a good grasp of the enhancements required to improve the reports and results we provide to our customers. But how can I be sure?

Here’s the single biggest thing I learned in the last few weeks since starting this role.

What I knew within operations, I really knew. What I know now, I only think I know.

I need to gather a lot of information and knowledge in the next few months. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this.

Here’s the plan; I am going to deal with the ‘known unknowns’ one day at a time.

There are a lot of unknowns at the start of this process, but I have decided that there are only two that really matter.

1. What do our customers really want need?
2. What is the correct product roadmap for the next couple of years based on this?

I thought I knew the answer to number 1 above. I did with the word ‘want’. I have been listening for years to client feedback on our products.

But do I really know what happens within our client’s organisations once we deliver the results? Do I know what they really need?

We spend a lot of time with the management teams responsible, as a result of our findings, for creating action plans and driving change throughout their organisation.

But what about the team on the ground responsible for working with the reports on a daily basis?
– Do we really know everything that happens with our reports and results once our clients receive them?
– Have we ever truly observed how the account management teams use our reports and findings to help them manage their accounts?
– Have we ever assessed if our clients are making full use of every piece of information in every document we send to them?

To answer the question at the beginning of this blog, that is what I am doing first.

I will visit every client that will have me and meet as many people as possible within their organisation. I am going to ask many questions but I am also going to stop asking questions and simply watch.

I believe that it is this process of watching how our products are being used that will bring me much closer to understanding what our customers really need us to do. I will consider this information to be the single most important factor when deciding on our product roadmap at the start of next year.

That’s better. Now I have a plan. I’ll keep you updated.

What is a ‘Good’ Employee Net Promoter Score?

What is a ‘Good’ Employee Net Promoter Score?

Last year, I wrote a blog post entitled What is a ‘Good’ B2B Net Promoter Score?. For some reason it turned out to be surprisingly popular. The blog still gets dozens of hits every week. I’m guessing that was because there’s a lot of nonsense posted on the Internet about companies achieving Net Promoter Score (NPS) results of +62 or even +78, or about people being hugely disappointed because they only achieved a score of +25.

Meanwhile, some of our own clients at Deep-Insight would get upset when I tell them their customer NPS was only marginally positive or – even worse – negative. The two simple messages in that blog post were:

“Be careful about how you interpret NPS figures”

and

“A customer Net Promoter Score of approximately +10 is the average for European B2B firms.”

 

eNPS versus NPS

In that blog, I was discussing NPS as a measure of customer advocacy. More and more, it is also becoming the de facto standard for measuring employee advocacy and employee engagement. So this blog will address the question: “What is a ‘Good’ Employee Net Promoter Score?”

Before I let you know what that magic number is, it’s worth digressing slightly to explain the basics of how NPS is calculated. If you’re already a net promoter aficionado, skip the box below.

HOW IS THE NET PROMOTER SCORE CALCULATED?

For the uninitiated, a company’s Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is based on the answers its employees give to a single question:

“On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend Company X to a friend or colleague?”

Employees who score 9 or 10 are called ‘Promoters’. Those who score 7 or 8 are ‘Passives’ while any employee who gives a score of 6 or below is a ‘Detractor’. The actual eNPS calculation is:

Net Promoter Score = the percentage of Promoters minus the percentage of Detractors

Theoretically, companies can have a Net Promoter Score ranging from -100 to +100.

 

So think about it. The only Promoters you have in your company are those employees who are prepared to give you a score of 9 or 10 out of 10. In the average American company (remember that the whole Net Promoter concept originated in the USA) that makes sense. Americans tend to score very positively when they are satisfied, so having a high cut-off point is appropriate. However, if you’ve grown up and live and work in a European country, you approach the Net Promoter question from a very different cultural perspective.

It’s a Cultural Thing

Many – nay, most – Europeans regard 8/10 as a very good score. Some will argue that 9s or 10s are only handed out in exceptional circumstances. This is culturally ingrained into us Europeans through our schooling system and particularly through our university grading system.

Making the Grade
In European universities, a First Class Honours degree requires a score of 70% (7 out of 10). Scores of 75% are remarkable, while scores of 80% (8 out of 10) and higher are almost unheard of. These cultural differences have to be taken into account when interpreting whether a particular Employee Net Promoter Score is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

The Magic Number

So what is a ‘Good’ Employee Net Promoter Score? We have been measuring NPS and eNPS since 2006. We do this mainly for European and Australian companies. The average Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) across all of our clients during that time has been a paltry -10. Yes, that really is a negative sign before the 10.

MINUS TEN!

Put it another way: achieving a positive Employee Net Promoter Score is a solid achievement for most European firms. Rarely do we see eNPS results in excess of +20.

So there you have it. If your company has just received a negative eNPS in the latest employee survey, don’t feel too bad. You’re in good company!
To find out more about Deep-Insight’s employee assessments, click here.
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

Are you going to NPS me? Yes, I am!

This is the topic of a talk I’m giving this week at a customer loyalty conference in Melbourne. It is in response to another talk entitled “Are you going to NPS me? No I’m not” in which Dr Dave Stewart of Marketing Decision Analysis will be presenting the case that Net Promoter is a deeply flawed concept. Dave will say that NPS should be discarded by organisations that espouse customer advocacy. To be honest, Dave’s position is close to what I thought of the Net Promoter Score concept when it was first introduced by a pretty smart academic and business consultant called Fred Reichheld back in 2003.

Tom Fishburn

Net Promoter Score

Reichheld’s basic premise was that you only need to ask one question in order to understand if a customer is going to stay loyal to you or not. The question is: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” Fred, being the excellent marketeer that he is, proclaimed the benefits of this Net Promoter Score (NPS) concept in respected publications like the Harvard Business Review. He then promoted it in his own book The Ultimate Question which came out in 2006, shortly after I took on the CEO role here at Deep-Insight. Since then, NPS has became very popular as a customer loyalty metric.

However, NPS has also attracted some heavy criticism. Tim Keiningham gave NPS a particularly scathing review saying that he and his research team could find no evidence for the claims made by Reichheld. (It should be said that Keiningham worked for the market research company Ipsos so his views may not be completely unbiased.)

At that time, my own view was that NPS was probably too simplistic a metric for business-to-business (B2B) companies. I also felt that Deep-Insight’s own customer methodology – which also included a ‘would you recommend’ question – was a much better fit for complex business relationships. And if I’m honest, there was an element of ‘Not Invented Here’ going on in our own organisation as well.

So we decided to ignore NPS.

The Rise of NPS

But here’s the thing: our customers didn’t ignore it. When we ran customer feedback programmes for customers like Reed Elsevier and Atos in the UK, ABN AMRO in the Netherlands, Santander in Poland, and the Toll Group in Australia, they would all ask: “Can you add in the NPS question for us – we have to report the numbers back to headquarters?” Of course, being the good marketeers that we were, we duly obliged. However, we always gave the results back in a separate spreadsheet, so that it wouldn’t contaminate our own reports and our own wonderful methodology!

Roll the clock forward to 2013. NPS still hadn’t gone away. In fact it had become even more popular. It was particularly popular with large international companies where a simple understandable metric was needed to compare results across different divisions and geographical areas. And when I finally looked into it, I discovered that Deep-Insight had actually been gathering NPS data from customers across 86 different countries since 2006.

Is NPS a good predictor of loyalty?

Around the same time we also did some research into our own database to find out what really drove loyalty and profitability in our clients. Now this is not an easy thing to do, as many of you who have tried will know. But where we had several years of customer feedback data, it was relatively straightforward to analyse how many of our clients’ B2B customers were still with them. If they have deliberately defected, we investigated if that defection could have been predicted by a poor Net Promoter Score, or by any of the metrics in our own CRQ methodology.

I have to say that the results were quite interesting. A low ‘Likelihood To Recommend’ was not the BEST predictor of customer defection. However it was actually a pretty good predictor. Deep-Insight’s overall Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) metric was a slightly better predictor.

A poor Commitment score – one of the key components of CRQ – was the best predictor of whether a B2B client was going to defect to the competition or not.

So there we had it: NPS did actually work.

It worked not because it’s the BEST predictor of whether a client was going to defect, but because it’s a GOOD predictor, coupled with the fact that NPS has been embraced by some of the world’s leading organisations as an easy-to-use and internationally-accepted customer benchmark. 

At Deep-Insight, we came a little late to the party. We only incorporated Net Promoter Score into our customer methodology in early-2014. Today we find that the combination of NPS and our own CRQ metrics works really well for our clients.

The future for NPS

Now let’s go back to the cartoon at the top of the blog (and thank you to the wonderful Tom Fishburne for allowing us to use it). If there is a statistically purer methodology than NPS, why not use that instead?

The answer is simple: most senior executives aren’t interested in re-inventing the wheel. They are much more interested in taking the feedback from their clients and acting on it, so that they can protect and enhance the revenues they get from those clients.

So for those B2B executives who are wondering if NPS is the right customer metric for them or not, I would suggest that you’re asking the wrong question. What good CEOs and Sales Directors are asking these days is:

“If my Net Promoter Score is low or if I have a lot of Opponents and Stalkers as clients, what do I do?”

In fact, the really successful CEOs and Sales Directors are spending the time thinking about the challenges of putting a really effective customer experience (CX) programme in place, rather than worrying about the purity of the metrics. That’s what you should be doing too.