myspace views counter

Search Waypoint Resources

Search phrase

Filter by resource type

-- Article --

Benchmarks, "Smenchmarks"?

Posted on October 23, 2010 , by Steve Bernstein

Quite a lot has been written about “Customer Satisfaction” and “Net Promoter”benchmarks from 3rd parties.  I understand the curiosity, but I’m not clear on why are these deemed “important,” and as usual I have some questions:
1. With whom do you want to compare yourself?  On the one hand you want to do better than your competition, so understanding how you stack up within your industry could be interesting.  But customer expectations are set by experiences all around them, not just your industry.  For example, I know how Schwab and Lexus provide service, and can’t help but have that in the back of my mind during any interaction. 
2. How was the benchmark calculated?  What customers were interviewed and how — was there a representative sample of the customers in the right segments and the right roles in your buying process? In other words, are we comparing apples-to-apples?
3. When and where were the measurements established?  Seasonality often comes into play for many companies, causing wide variation in scores.  Same with cultural differences: different countries and market segments will cause variation in scores.
4. Was the benchmark assembled using the same methodology that you are using?  Relationship scores vary significantly from transactional, and anchors (click for more on this topic), communications, and recruiting practices can also impact results.
Net Promoter, “CSAT”, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer – whatever you call it – is a journey, not a one-time event.  My concern with a focus on “benchmark” scores is

  1. Let’s say you find out you’re better than the benchmark – does that mean you are “done” and don’t need to act?
  2. And if you’re lower than the benchmark, did you gain any insights that help you take the right actions?

Spend time and energy benchmarking against yourself.  As long as you are taking action and improving then you are doing the right thing.  And if you want to know what your customer expectations are, how they are being set, and how well you are doing against them, then just ask your customers.
I’d love to hear some alternate viewpoints – has anyone used Net Promoter or “CSAT” Benchmarks to gain improved business results?