NPS Only Leads To CX Success When Paired With Additional Insight
Co-founder and CEO of AskNicely, the award winning customer experience platform for frontline teams.
It’s no secret that a healthy business depends on a diet of happy customers, but companies bragging about their NPS number — punch-drunk on their success or gloating because they’ve cracked the customer experience (CX) code — have become a cliche. The Net Promoter Score (NPS), and the media spin surrounding it, has become the ubiquitous measure of how “happy” or “unhappy” our customers are.
A 2003 Harvard Business Journal article on NPS (subscription required) called it “the one number you need to grow,” and empires have been and will be built on measuring it correctly. In fact, Ask Nicely started out as a tool to measure NPS, but we soon realized that NPS isn’t enough. Our platform quickly had to evolve so that customer feedback became actionable insights for frontline workers, available within moments.
As important as NPS is, that number alone only translates into lasting success when companies understand three challenging truths about their score. Without additional insights, NPS is just a static number. Here’s why:
1. NPS won’t tell you why customers are (un)happy.
Most NPS surveys are generated at a single point in time. They are a great way to “take the temperature” but offer very little in the way of diagnostics.
Case in point: The NPS survey is usually sent out right after a customer makes a purchase. Say your customer’s experience purchasing the product was great. They’ll likely give your company a high score. However, several days later, the product delivered is not what the customer expected, and the process of returning it is laborious and disorganized. Your customer is likely irritated by the experience and may share their complaints with others. An NPS survey on the delivery day would show the customer to be an irritated, vocal detractor.
The bottom line is that a business’s understanding of its NPS must delve deeper than a one-time interaction with a sweet (or sullen) cashier. What’s causing your customers to tweet glowingly and tell their friends at the gym? Why are customers irate, disappointed or underwhelmed?
Being bullet-point specific around the data feeding into your NPS is key. Consider using branch logic to access the minds and motives of customers by asking follow-up questions like, “Why did you give us that rating?” or “Name one thing we could have done better?” This goes wider and deeper and seeks to understand not just what customers think of a product or service but why they think it — and even why they feel it. (Note: Follow-on questions should always be optional.)
The way I see it, experience is tipped to become one of the most important brand differentiators in 2021, so tapping into these insights is a no-brainer.
2. NPS isn’t (only) about customers.
It’s no secret that humans often work at their best when they’re motivated by feedback. I believe Uber is a company that understands turning NPS into the adult version of the “star chart.” The way I see it, in an ideal world, every single worker would be able to see their own customer experience score, ranking and shoutouts immediately— because, let’s face it, your NPS is not (only) about your customers.
CX has arms and legs, and it’s delivered by people — your people! NPS metrics should be shared early, often and continuously with the teams responsible for driving them. Motivate your workers to make every customer interaction a great one through an enhanced focus on customer experience.
When researching the right tech platform, look for features like real-time feedback, understandable metrics and an interface that is accessible on the go, especially for your frontline workers. If those workers have no idea how what they’re doing on a daily basis contributes to a great experience, we’ve lost the CX battle.
3. NPS isn’t only a diagnostic — it should also be the cure.
While companies should advocate for deepening their insights into the why behind the number, turning data into actionable insights should always be the end goal. Evolving feedback beyond numbers or indicators to coach customer service teams to win repeat business is a win-win for your staff and customers alike. Put another way, data is only meaningful when it results in creative action that inspires CX resilience.
Plug-and-play CX training programs should go hand-in-hand with NPS measurement. This pairing of technology can shorten the gap between NPS data, meaningful analytics, improvement programs that address shortcomings and eventual implementation. Considering the top characteristics that make customers feel loyal — great CX (25%), product or service offering (29%), and price (23%) — understanding how to leverage your NPS is not only important, but it also has become critical to success.
Turning NPS into a smart-cut to CX success requires both curiosity and action. It takes moving beyond the data (high or low indicators) to asking “Why?” and having a relentless focus on “What comes next?” Companies that do this will future-proof their CX strategies, immediately and on an ongoing basis. Corner your business advantages through deep interrogation of “the one number you need to grow.”
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