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What does Governance Mean in B2B Net Promoter Programs?
In last week’s post, Net Promoter in B2B is Lying to You, I showed how Net Promoter Scores can lead to incorrect conclusions and actions for B2B firms. In that video, I also briefly discussed how “governance is the glue” that makes this stuff work. This led to a bit of a discussion about Net Promoter governance on LinkedIn, which I’ll recap here.
In all things in life, it’s easy for people to look for shortcuts by falling back on methods that might have brought them success in the past. But with the growing “subscription economy” those methods might work in the short-term but will quickly fall apart. For example, if Marketing or Sales are setting certain expectations to help build a pipeline or close deals, those expectations need to be known and able to be cleanly delivered upon by the product, services, support, and back-office teams. If not, there’s a high risk of churn (or, perhaps worse, the so easily distributed “negative word-of-mouth”). So customer feedback becomes the strategic weapon to secure the end-to-end alignment that ultimately ensures your firm is meeting customer expectations and then drive the right actions (including activating promoters where they are found).
We don’t want to just measure scores through our customer surveys. We want to improve. And, by definition, the idea of “improvement” means “doing something different,” which in turn means “change.” And change is hard.
Governance is essentially a process of leading an organizational change. Leadership needs to ask the right questions to ensure participation and engagement. Too often we see leadership focused on departmental metrics: Sales closes new deals that bring in bookings. Marketing identifies leads. Support closes cases.
Can we get Sales to think about profit, not just bookings? Can we get Marketing to think about lifetime value, not just new leads? Can we get Services to think about optimal deployments, not just individual project margin? Those are cross-functional…much harder to manage.
Focusing on the process to achieve the goal is the answer. We want high scores on our customer surveys because we intuitively know that high scores lead to high growth. But there are a lot of ways to drive up high scores (the dark side of which we experience when buying a car), and just focusing on the end-goal leaves a lot up to individual employees to figure out how to get there (including gaming it per the car buying example, or better yet last week’s Comcast viral “retention” call-recording example).
So focusing on the process to achieve high scores – and implementing the right intermediate KPIs (such as account and contact coverage – are we asking for, and receiving feedback from, the right people in our customer accounts?) – becomes a way to build to the longer term improvements while also strengthening relationships to bring incremental value in the short term.
What are the best ways to get everyone to realize that it does in fact take a whole company to deliver a customer experience that creates Promoters? Can we get middle-managers focused on the process of genuine improvement? What KPIs and processes have you seen work at scale to drive participation, engagement, and improvement (i.e. a longer term focus), versus the typical short term, score-focused incentives?