Should Customer Experience and NPS Surveys be Anonymous?

CX and NPS feedback – should it be anonymous?

Should Customer Experience and NPS Surveys be Anonymous? The simple answer is NO – anonymity is not required for a B2B CX or NPS programme.

But the answer is not that simple. Let’s start by defining what Confidential and Anonymous mean in the context of surveys. This may sound obvious, but I have been amazed at the number of times I have needed to discuss this:

ANONYMOUS: No person or application can associate the answers you give with any identifiable information about you
CONFIDENTIAL: Any identifiable information about you will be held confidentially, and stored in an appropriately secure manner
OPTIONAL CONFIDENTIALITY: Any identifiable information about you will be held confidentially, and stored in an appropriately secure manner unless you specify that you would like to be identified (in other words, you decide to waive your right to confidentiality)

So for the rest of this blog, I am not longer going to dwell on anonymity. It’s simply not needed.
 

Confidentiality – now that’s a different matter

In any setting, when a third party asks for your opinion about someone, confidentiality is important to ensure a really open and honest response. In personal relationships this goes without saying but in the B2B world this is also true. It’s especially true if your staff are doing what you need them to be doing – building strong and personal relationships with clients.

Of course, many of your customers will indeed give you an honest response regardless of whether it is confidential or not. But many won’t. Cultural differences will mean this statement is truer in some parts of the world than others. However, regardless of where your customers live, there will always be those who will not respond, or who may not be as open as you would like them to be, unless their responses remain confidential.
 

Example 1

This example is an actual Deep-Insight client.

Company A ran a Customer Relationship Quality (CRQ) assessment (Survey 1) and told respondents that they had the option for their responses to remain confidential. Six months later Company A ran the survey again, but this time told respondents the option to remain confidential was removed.

The impact on their average Net Promoter Scores (remember NPS is a measure of advocacy on a 0 to 10 scale) was as follows:

Individuals’ responses in Survey 1 Completion Rate (Survey 2) Average NPS (Survey 1) Average NPS (Survey 2)
Chose confidentiality (did not share details) 55% 6.3 7.5
Waived confidentiality (shared details) 70% 7.1 7.2

 

For respondents who had shared their names with their responses in Survey 1, there was no significant impact. When asked to complete Survey 2, 70% did complete and only a small uptick in scores was noted (7.1 to 7.2).

However, where respondents chose to keep their feedback confidential in Survey 1, there was a much bigger impact. For starters, only 55% of these individuals chose to complete Survey 2. For those who completed Survey 2, there was also a significant increase in scores (from 6.3 to 7.5). In fact, ‘Confidential’ respondents went from scoring more poorly than average to scoring more positively than average when forced to share their details with the response.
 

Example 2

Here’s another client of ours. Having received very high scores for several consecutive surveys, Company B decided to introduce the option of confidentiality to ensure the integrity of what it was measuring. The findings were interesting, especially for newly-included respondents:

  • 26% of respondents opted to remain confidential overall but for newly-included respondents the figure was 38%
  • ‘Confidential’ respondents scored more poorly than those who agreed to share their responses – but not significantly so
  • Newly-included respondents who opted for confidentiality scored significantly more poorly than other respondents

 

“…but my teams are frustrated by these unactionable ‘Confidential’ responses”

In both examples above, the organisations had good business reasons when they chose not to include confidentiality in their CX process:

  • Improved usefulness as an account management tool as ALL feedback is provided to account management teams
  • All raw data can be fully integrated with internal systems, allowing ongoing re-segmentation of responses (this is limited when responses are confidential)

But the argument that your CX or NPS programme should include ‘Optional Confidentiality’ is far stronger. If you don’t include optional confidentiality, your most unhappy customers will either not respond or will not give you a completely honest response.

This puts your entire CX or NPS programme at risk. You will end up making decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete data.

So should NPS Surveys be Anonymous? No. Should they include ‘Optional Confidentiality’? Absolutely!
 

“Is there any way to convince ‘Confidential’ respondents to share their details but still give an honest response?”

Maybe, but this will take time; people are people after all.

If a customer is at a point in their journey with you that they do not want to share their details, but they are willing to give feedback, that’s OK. Of course, you can explain the benefits of what you can do if they agree to share their details with you (you can address their issues more easily) but don’t push too hard. There is a trust issue here. Pushing won’t help.

You have a much better chance of convincing this customer by including them in your ‘Close the Loop’ process even though you don’t have a response from them. Over time you will gain their trust, both in the CX or NPS programme as well as in your organisation. You’ll eventually win that shared response.
 
 
 

Limerick’s Net Promoter score is only +7

This is a theme I’ve explored a few times in the past: the NPS results for sports teams.

Despite an imperious performance by the Shannonsiders in last weekend’s All-Ireland Hurling Final, Limerick’s Net Promoter score is only +7.
 

The Greatest Final in Modern Times?

On Sunday, we witnessed one of the greatest hurling matches of the modern era. Hurling, you ask? A game played with sticks and a small hard ball called a sliotar. The greatest, fastest, most skillful game in the world. It truly is.

I should declare an allegiance here. Even though Deep-Insight is headquartered in Cork, I was born in Limerick. Although I didn’t live in the county for very long, I do support the Shannonsiders whenever it gets to the business end of an All-Ireland Hurling championship.

Last Sunday was All-Ireland Final day and it was a contest between the two best teams in the country: Limerick and Cork. It turned out to be a game of men against minnows as Limerick bullied and outplayed Cork into submission in an enthralling display of hurling. The final score: Limerick 3-32 to Cork’s 1-22.
 

Limerick Player Ratings

Here’s Paul Keane’s full list of Limerick player ratings from this week’s Irish Examiner:

Nickie Quaid: Not much he could do about Shane Kingston’s early bullet that flew past him to the net. Kept a clean sheet thereafter and mixed up his puck-outs well, going short when the opportunities were there. 8 (‘Passive’ score in NPS terminology)

Sean Finn: Beaten by Shane Kingston for the Cork goal. Started on Jack O’Connor though switched over to Patrick Horgan for a period. Horgan took him for two points from play but both were serious efforts from the Cork captain. 8 (Passive)

Dan Morrissey: Expected to pick up Patrick Horgan and did so for the most part, holding the prolific forward scoreless from play in that time. Locked down a mean defence that had to deal with an early Cork whirlwind. 8 (Passive)

Barry Nash: Punched the air in delight after closing out the first-half scoring with a long-range point. Still there at the death, attempting to tag on one last score for the Shannonsiders. 8 (Passive)

Diarmaid Byrnes: At his very best again. It was Byrnes’ precise pass that created Aaron Gillane’s goal and he split the posts for a trademark long-range point approaching half-time. Denied Seamus Harnedy a goal with a 64th-minute block. 8 (Passive)

Declan Hannon: Another textbook display at the centre of the Limerick defence. Used all his leadership to nail the quarterback role. Helped get Limerick going with an early point from distance and finished with 0-2. Hobbled off to a huge ovation late on. 8 (Passive)

Kyle Hayes: None of the drama of the Munster final when he scored the goal of the season but still worked tirelessly, winning frees and shooting for points long after the result was beyond doubt. 7 (Passive)

William O’Donoghue: A big part of why Limerick got on top in the middle third. Emptied his tank and strung together the play intelligently. 7 (Passive)

Darragh O’Donovan: On point and crisp at midfield, delivering accurate passes throughout and thundering through the exchanges. One of 13 different Limerick players to get on the scoresheet on the day. 8 (Passive)

Gearóid Hegarty: A huge performance from the reigning Hurler of the Year. Clipped 2-2 and struck two wides in the first half alone as he opened up with some spectacular hurling. Eventually replaced to huge cheers. 8 (Passive)

Cian Lynch: Pointed after 11 seconds and never let up, setting up both of Gearóid Hegarty’s goals. Toyed with the Cork defence at times, finishing with six points from play. His interception and flick up for Tom Morrissey’s 18th-minute point was outrageous. 9 (Promoter)

Tom Morrissey: Mixed silk with steel, showing an awesome work rate but also an ability to pick off a series of deft passes that led to important scores. Weighed in with three points from play himself on another landmark day. 8 (Passive)

Aaron Gillane: Hard to believe now he didn’t start the Munster final. Looked like a player keen to prove a point and was on fire throughout, finishing with the first-half with 1-3 and adding another three points for a 1-6 haul. 8 (Passive)

Seamus Flanagan: Helped put the game beyond Cork during Limerick’s early blitzkrieg, pointing sumptuously in the eighth minute and passing to Aaron Gillane for the second goal. Scored just a point but set up so much more. 8 (Passive)

Peter Casey: A bittersweet afternoon for the Na Piarsaigh man. Clear to play after his red card in the semi-final and on fire for 30 minutes, shooting 0-5 from play. Then crumpled with a left knee injury and had to come off. 8 (Passive)


 

Limerick’s Net Promoter score is only +7

The best ranking player was Cian Lynch who strode the field like a Colossus but who was the only player to get 9/10 from the Irish Examiner correspondent.

15 players and only one achieved a score consistent with a ‘Promoter’ ranking of 9 or 10; Everybody else was a Passive, in a match where Limerick utterly dominated their Munster rivals and played one of the most memorable matches in living memory.

Net Promoter Score = % of Promoters (7%) less % of Detractors (0%), hence a Net Promoter Score of +7.
 

Benchmarking

I have written before about how benchmarking needs to be conducted carefully when you compare scores from customers in different countries.

I have also written about how people in different countries are culturally programmed to score in particular ways. The most obvious example is that Americans are more prone to score more positively than Europeans if they receive a good service.

This is an important point to remember if you are running a Customer Experience (CX) programme across a global client base. An average Net Promoter score for Northern European B2B companies is no higher than +10. For American companies, it’s more like +20 or +30, a score that would be regarded as ‘excellent’ in a Northern European context.

So be careful when comparing NPS results across different jurisdictions. If it helps, just remember that Limerick’s Net Promoter score is only +7 in a year where they dominated the All-Ireland hurling final!