I am trying, and failing, to remember the last time I helped boost a company’s net promoter score.
This should be easier than it sounds. As first conceived by Frederick Reichheld in The Ultimate Question (2006), net promoter scores are based on the answer to the following: “How likely is it that you would recommend (XYZ) to a friend or colleague?” Offer a ranking from one to 10, and immediately you should know who your best advocates are. Although I’m not shy about talking up the products and services I love, I do it in so many different ways — in person, via e-mail, on Twitter or Facebook — that it’s hard to keep track. This is the omni-channel factor, and it offers an important point in the recent debate over the net promoter score’s viability.
In his Globe and Mail column recently, management consultant Harvey Schachter discusses a counter-argument to the net promoter score from Larry Freed in his book Innovating Analytics.
(Freed says) people can be loyal customers but not answer that question with a high rating because it is not in their nature to recommend such a firm to others. “When is the last time you heard someone recommend his or her power company?” he writes. “I can hear it now, ‘This is some of the best electricity I have had in years. My light bulbs have never been brighter.’”
Of course, it sounds ridiculous, and Freed suggests companies need to balance net promoter scores by also trying to find out how many customers would dissuade others from using a product or service. That probably seems a lot more challenging, but in sectors like retail and financial services, this is one of the great benefits omni-channel strategies offer. By offering a consistent experience and ability to communicate across all the major touchpoints, companies that embrace the omni-channel are listening to customer in a much more holistic way.
Net promoter scores in an omni-channel context
In an omni-channel company, it’s not about merely dividing customers into promoters or detractors. Improving the likelihood of customers to recommend you is not always the same thing as deepening a relationship in such a way that you will get more value from that customer. Detractors, for example, may start out that way because they are dissatisfied over the way an online order was handled, but by being available at the point of purchase, resolving the problem and communicating an intention to make longer-term improvements, you may not turn that customer into a vocal “promoter,” but they might consider spending more money with you in the future. That’s ultimately more important than an inflated net promoter score.
This will be the complex, but ultimately fulfilling mission for companies that use omni-channel technology strategically: not merely to prop up their brand ambassadors, but to also cultivate a possibly silent majority of supporters. The upshot is, if they do this right, they’ll probably see a bump in their net promoter score as well. A solid omni-channel strategy should make those promoters speak up even louder.