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When is Net Promoter the Wrong Customer Loyalty Question to Ask?

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When you’re working on loyalty, Net Promoter is a tempting question to ask. But is it the question you should be asking? This post will help you work out if it’s right for your circumstances.

In a casual Tweet I counselled against indiscriminate use of the Net Promoter ® question. It prompted an anxious reply from one of our most valued customers who wondered whether he was using the question inappropriately. He should rest easy. I often find it’s the people who are most concerned to do the right thing who have the least cause to worry.

For those not familiar, the Net Promoter system is a popular customer loyalty measure based on one simple question “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?”

It’s a good question, because the bar for ‘recommending’ is very high. I might say I’m ‘satisfied’ with a company, and willing personally to put up with their inconsistencies but I will hold back from actually recommending anyone who I fear might one day reflect badly on me or my judgement.

It’s a good sign unless it masks over-reliance on a tool

Of course, for us customers it’s to be welcomed that more companies are checking to see whether their customers are happy with their performance. Net Promoter can help in the goal of delivering great service to customers and, for the company, reaping the business benefits that follow.

But, as with any tool or methodology, the arbiter of success is the skill of the people behind the activity, and how thoughtfully they execute the process, not the tool itself.

So, depending on your vintage (and revealing mine) you may have weathered BS5750, Kaizen, TQM, Six Sigma, and latterly Social CRM. And yet, you may conclude that despite an abundance of acronyms, your experience as a customer is still not a lifetime of constant delight.

Therefore, the tool is largely irrelevant, but it can make things a bit easier if you use it wisely.

It’s the ‘ultimate question’…but not the only question

Often billed as the ‘ultimate question’ I applaud Net Promoter’s simplicity in a world gone mad with 20-page surveys.

But it’s a loyalty measure, so it’s not appropriate to ask it if the customer has not had a chance to become loyal. Asked too soon, and it’s like asking “How much do you love me?” at the start of a first date. Fair question, lousy timing.

So, after a sales enquiry, it’s way too early for the ‘recommend’ question, but quite in order to ask “How well did we deal with your enquiry?”.

In contrast, after I’ve bought something from you, gone through the full range of finding out about you, placing an order, experiencing your website, your transaction processing, your communication and the quality of your goods and service…? Well, now I’m definitely going to have a view and by the way thank you very much for taking the trouble to check!

And there should always, always, always be an open-ended question with a text box accompanying the rating to give people an opportunity to elaborate. Then, as a company, you will get a measure of sentiment AND actionable feedback. Which we observe will actually be more positive, more often than you expect, if you are one of those people who cares enough to get this right, like our wonderful customers.

Don’t forget what’s most important to the customer

But that’s not quite the end of the story. Because gathering feedback is just the beginning. Asking for feedback does not engender loyalty.

It’s what you do about it that counts.

That’s what really generates loyalty and recommendations.

If you’re considering starting, or improving, your NPS program, see how we can help , or just get in touch. We’ve also got a treasure trove of resources to help you on your way to excellent customer satisfaction, and we recommend starting at our handy guide on how to implement an effective customer experience improvement programme.

Whether a seasoned hand at customer experience, or you’re just starting to think deeper about it, our powerful software and expert support are here to drive improvements for you and your business. Learn how we make it happen and explore our 5 key steps to a better customer experience.

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Complaints are great for your business. They’re your chance to win a customer for life. Follow our five step guide to make sure you make the most of them!

4 Surprises when you Implement a Customer Feedback System

A customer feedback system helps you guarantee customer satisfaction. But what will happen when you start? You will be surprised - but in a good way!

See how CustomerSure could work for you

To find out more about how CustomerSure could help you, get in touch today.

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