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2 FAQs on Customer Experience

Posted on September 23, 2013 , by Steve Bernstein
CATEGORIES: Lessons Learned

There have been some great conversations in LinkedIn groups that merit some attention.  I don’t think I’m allowed to replicate the full thread here, so I’ve included my own responses and invite others to check out the groups.  As these 2 questions are important topics, let’s keep the conversation going!  If you’re not a group member you can join the LinkedIn group and participate or feel free to comment here.
1. This first question was posted in the Net Promoter Score (NPS) Forum:
If your company has adopted NPS for a few years now, please share best practices on how to convert passives to promoters and any success stories in line with this! 
My response: “… the answer depends on differences in B2B vs. B2C companies. In B2C firms (generally with a survey sampling approach) there is often an exclusive focus on the statistics as Ken implies above to determine which improvement initiatives will best create Promoters and have the biggest “bang for the buck.” By contrast, B2B firms generally need to focus on customer dialogs and strengthening relationships with all of the contacts that influence purchasing decisions. Here, the account management function (with proper customer communications) is the tip of the arrow, not necessarily the statistics. So in B2B firms, we would recommend understanding the practices that have created Promoters elsewhere in your company, and then enabling account teams to replicate those “best practices” by setting and managing the right expectations with their individual customer accounts.
“The better you can equip your B2B account teams with detailed tools that have resulted in “Promoters” (often through account plans that focus on obtaining value from your solutions, not just a focus on implementation), the easier it will be to gain internal participation in the process. That is, find out where you have Promoters, and then walk back to determine the root-cause of why they are Promoters. Each customer account might have different expectations, objectives, and requirements. The account teams should have the right tools and knowledge to apply your company’s proven best practices in managing account relationships that have resulted in creating Promoters.”
Later in the thread, I added:
“Here’s an example of a large Enterprise Software/SaaS client that focused on syndicating “best practices” that created Promoters:
“Our client was repeatedly hearing issues about the User Interface for a key reporting interface in a core product. The “conventional wisdom” inside the company that this module was too hard to use and needed investment to improve usability (and therefore “loyalty”). While that may be accurate, the purpose of the program is to *optimize* investments and implement the right solutions, not just list out the “hot spots.” So in digging deeper we found that there were many of this client’s customers that were Promoters who also provided positive feedback about the reporting capabilities. How could that be?
“It turns out that those Promoters had largely had quite a different sales and implementation experience. Those account teams understood the usability issues, and invested their time to understand how to proactively meet customer needs. They were able to specify and implement an automated reporting solution, which essentially made that user interface obsolete for their customers.
“It’s true that the usability issue didn’t “go away.” However, this alternative approach proved to be more than acceptable. In fact, the automation proved to be the optimal solution for this group of customers, creating Promoters while also driving new sales opportunities, AND also allowed the scarce product resources to be focused in more critical areas.
“There’s quite a lot that an account team can do to manage customer expectations and requirements. Our advice is to avoid an end-focus on data and problem areas. There are always constraints. The better a “Voice-of-Customer” program team can identify and syndicate best practices, the more your account teams (sales and services) can do to work within those constraints.”
2. This question is in LinkedIn’s NPS Ops (Net Promoter Score) group:
Does anyone have any data about what drives customers to respond to surveys?
Response:  “There’s an overarching program principal that all this relates to, which is “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM). We’re all bombarded with surveys every day, so your customers need to understand why they should be spending their precious time responding to your request for their feedback. Will there be any action on their feedback? Will anyone be following up? How much time will it take?
“We’ve found that good communications along these lines is the key. Your customers probably have a personal connection with someone inside your company (at least your strategic/largest accounts should have an “account manager” of sorts). The more you can leverage personal relationships to help communicate the “WIIFM” to the customer, the more likely that message is going to be heard (and the better the response rate, which to Tom’s point should be growing over time to 70%+ in B2B).
“This means that your account teams should also be engaged in the program – not just to help you deliver the right messages, but to also
– help identify the right contacts within the account that influence buying decisions (i.e. the WIIFM for the account teams),
– recruit for response (not “begging for scores”),
– and facilitate the right follow-up actions with those strategic accounts.
“While this sounds like a lot of work (and can be), this is where the ROI comes from. I’m reminded of that old adage in Sales that goes something like, “Nothing happens until someone shows up.” Getting your front-line account teams engaged in the program is the where the incremental sales opportunities and accelerated growth come from in the short term for B2B firms.”