Liverpool F.C. has a Net Promoter Score of -45

When will Liverpool win the Premiership?

It’s still January but Liverpool are already 16 points ahead of the chasing pack in the English Premier League. This been a phenomenal season for Jürgen Klopp’s team so far: 21 wins out of 22 games. No defeats. They even have a game in hand over their nearest rivals Manchester City and the club’s position look unassailable. So it might seem a little strange to claim that Liverpool’s NPS is -45%. Yes, that’s a Net Promoter Score of MINUS 45. It’s true. Sort of.

Liverpool have been English champions 18 times but have never won the Premiership. The last time they won was way back in 1990 when the old First Division had a lot more teams than it does today. Three decades on, the discussion is not around whether Liverpool can win the Premiership this season.

The question being posed is when? And with how many games to spare?

And yet, Liverpool’s NPS score is -45%. Honestly, it really is Minus 45. Well, sort of.

Liverpool 2 – 0 Manchester United

Last weekend, Liverpool beat Manchester United 2-0 in a game that was far more one-sided that the final scoreline suggested.

Liverpool's NPS is -45%

Dave Hytner of the Guardian was in no doubt about the emphatic nature of the victory:

“This was a game in which Liverpool’s superiority was so pronounced for most of the first half and the early part of the second it would have been no surprise had they led by five or six. The intensity of their football coupled with the surgical nature of their incisions were enough to take the breath.”

Now here’s the interesting thing, and the central point of this blog.

Given the imperious nature of Liverpool’s victory over Manchester United, one might think the Guardian would give all the Liverpool players ratings of 9/10 or 10/10 for their performances. Absolutely not. In the UK – in fact, all across Northern Europe – we just don’t do that. It’s not in our nature. Our internal scoring mechanism doesn’t allow it. We are conditioned to reserve 10/10 ratings for performances in the Superhero category. Excellence just gets you 8/10.

So if we were to apply a Net Promoter Score-type rating to the Liverpool team after last weekend’s defeat of Manchester United, the Liverpool team would have received a NPS score of -45 according to John Brewin of the Guardian.

Liverpool Player Ratings

Here’s John Brewin’s full list of Liverpool player ratings:

Alisson: A watching brief for much of the first half, busier but never truly troubled in the second
6 (Equivalent to a ‘Detractor’ score in NPS terminology)

Trent Alexander-Arnold: Prevented from getting forward as often as he likes to, usually by United’s split-striker tactics
6 (Detractor)

Joe Gomez: Another solid performance as the junior but now regular central defensive partner to Van Dijk
7 (‘Passive’ score in NPS terminology)

Virgil van Dijk: Headed in an opener against the early run of play, and marshalled the backline in style
7 (Passive)

Andy Robertson: His usual influence was muted in the first half before normal service resumed after the break
6 (Detractor)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Something of a passenger in first half, his substitution was little surprise
5 (Detractor)

Jordan Henderson: His energy kept his team driving forward, hit the post early in the second half
8 (Passive)

Georginio Wijnaldum: Had a goal disallowed for offside and his darts from deep wreaked havoc on United
7 (Passive)

Mohamed Salah: Missed a golden chance in the 48th minute then broke United duck in added time
7 (Passive)

Roberto Firmino: Had a goal disallowed by VAR, and he is still yet to score a goal at Anfield this season
7 (Passive)

Sadio Mané: His best chance, just before half-time, was well saved by De Gea. Otherwise unusually quiet
6 (Detractor)

Liverpool’s NPS is -45%

The best ranking went to Jordan Henderson who only managed to get 8/10 from the Guardian correspondent. Even goalscorers Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah could only manage a paltry 7 out of 10.

11 Players; None achieved a score consistent with a ‘Promoter’ ranking of 9 or 10s; Six Passives (scores of 7 or 8) ; Five Detractors (scores of 6 or below).

Net Promoter Score = % of Promoters (0%) less % of Detractors (45%), hence a Net Promoter Score of -45.

Cultural Differences from Country to Country

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 NPS score for Northern European B2B customers is no higher than +10. For American customers, it’s more like +20 or +30, a score that would be seen as ‘excellent’ in a Northern European context.

So be careful when comparing NPS scores across different jurisdictions. If it helps, just remember that Liverpool’s NPS was -45% in a year where they ran away with the Premiership title!
 
 

UPDATE (2 February 2020)

I am happy to say that following their 4-0 demolition of Southampton yesterday, Liverpool’s NPS score has improved to -9.

Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
Joe Gomez – 6
Virgil van Dijk – 7
Andy Robertson – 7
Fabinho – 7
Jordan Henderson – 8
Georginio Wijnaldum – 6
Mohamed Salah – 9
Roberto Firmino – 8
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 9 (Man of the Match)

Help! What Do I do with my Stalkers and Opponents?

If you’re a typical B2B company, the chances are that you have good or excellent relationships with the majority of your clients. But you will also have clients where your relationship is not as strong. At Deep-Insight we help you understand these client relationships by segmenting them based on the strength of their relationship with you.

Here are the five categories we use:
 

Customer Relationship Quality – the Strongest Relationships

 
Ambassadors

The most loyal client category is the Ambassador segment. Ambassadors are your most valuable customers. They have a unique relationship with you and will recommend you to others. They are also prepared to pay a premium for your products or services – price is not an important consideration for them because of the quality of the relationship. Typically, a third of your clients are Ambassadors.
 
High Rationals

The next segment of clients are known as Rationals. They rate you positively but do not see anything unique in the relationship. Rationals will take their time to assess alternative sources of supply and the relationship can become unstable if good alternative offers exist. Typically, half of your key B2B accounts fit into this category. Generally they are good clients albeit not as loyal as Ambassadors.
 

The Weakest Relationships

But wait! That doesn’t add up to 100%. What’s the story with the others?

Well, the answer is that in all B2B account portfolios, there are clients that don’t love you that much. We typically find that 10-20% of accounts have poorer relationships with you and fit into one of the following three categories:

Ambivalents

Ambivalents often have a “love/hate” relationship with you. In some instances, they love the way you solve their problems but hate the way you treat them. More often, you are killing them with kindness but failing to solve their business issues. You may think the relationship is strong but you don’t really understand their issues and can’t propose business solutions to move their business forward.

Stalkers

Stalkers are often only interested in price. Sometimes they can be large corporate accounts looking for special offers and discounts. Other times, they are smaller accounts that view your services as poor value for money. Stalkers see nothing unique in the relationship and often have very high service requirements. They play different competitors against each other and do not generate a positive value for your portfolio.

Opponents have the poorest relationships with you. They are deeply dissatisfied and often highly frustrated by what they see as consistently poor service. Opponents have a negative relationship with the company and generate negative value. They can sometimes be won back if the reason for their dissatisfaction is identified and addressed but, in many cases, the relationship has broken down irretrievably and they can not be won back.
 

Managing Ambassadors

Before we look at how to manage Stalkers and Opponents – the main point of this blog – one quick point about how to manage Ambassadors. Ambassadors are willing to recommend you. So ask them for testimonials. Trustmary is a Finnish company that helps clients do exactly that using Net Promoter Score as the key metric for identifying Ambassadors.

Don’t be afraid to ask Ambassadors for testimonials or for introductions into other businesses. They want to help you. So just do it.
 

Managing Stalkers and Opponents

So what to do with these poorer-value relationships, particularly Stalkers and Opponents?

Three things:

1. Decide if you want to keep them or fire them

It may sound strange to talk about ‘firing’ clients but sometimes there are clients that can not be serviced effectively or profitably. Sometimes their expectations are too high, or the fit between their needs and your products or services is limited. In such cases, it’s valid to ask the question “Would we both be better off if we ended the relationship?” The big advantage about firing customers is that it frees up sales and account management time. This time can be used for more profitable activities such as cross-selling and upselling to Ambassadors, or for converting Rationals into Ambassadors.

2. If the answer is FIRE THEM, find a ‘beautiful exit’

Stalkers and Opponents have a corrosive influence on your company. They sap energy and consume resources that can be better used elsewhere. They also have a corrosive influence on other clients as they spread a negative message about your capabilities and services. Have that tough conversation with the client before the situation deteriorates, and help them move to a competitor. Do it cleanly and professionally. Find what Finnish Business Professor Kimmo Alajoutsijarvi refers to as a Beautiful Exit to the relationship – a disengagement that “minimises damage to the disengager, the other party, and the connected business network.”

3. If the answer is KEEP THEM, put a proper recovery plan in place

Many of Deep-Insight’s clients will put a Service Improvement Plan (SIP) in place for poor-scoring accounts, typically Opponents or Stalkers. These SIPs involve a significant increase in service support to that client. They also require an open and honest conversation between the Account Director and the most senior people in the client organisation. In large complex B2B client relationships, changes in behaviour are typically required on both sides to bring the relationship back on an even keel again. Don’t be afraid of saying to your client: “We’re committed to making improvements on our side, but we need you to do X and Y for this relationship to work.” (more…)