Author: Susan Najjar, Director of Marketing, Sciformix Corporation
Customer centricity has been a strategic pillar at Sciformix since its inception. But it is one thing to mark it as a goal to aspire towards, and it is completely another to build processes, policies and a culture that has its finger firmly on the pulse of the customer. This is what we were able to achieve. The fact that a majority of our business comes from existing customers ratifies that intent. Recently we formalized how we look at customer satisfaction and have implemented the NPS methodology to get customer feedback.
Customer feedback systems can energize a company’s frontline workers to inspire customer-centered learning throughout an organization. However, you also need feedback loops in the executive suite and the middle ranks since customer input can influence decisions on everything from where the company will compete to service and product development, pricing, policies, and processes.
From a company’s senior-level perspective, direct input from customers can help make corporate strategies an imperative. For example, surveys can identify which business units within the company are customer loyalty leaders, which are at parity with their rivals, and which are laggards. Customer input can also help the mid-management.
Managers in operations, finance, HR and marketing must convert strategies into policies and processes that attract and retain high-value customers and above all build trust. If these managers don’t have direct customer feedback, tight budgets, other constraints and distractions will keep them from adequately prioritizing customer needs. For organizations that service global customers, most of whom are in different geographies, this type of feedback and information is absolutely critical especially when cultural differences may play a factor. Furthermore, day-to-day operations impact deliverables such as quality, efficiency, insight and value more strongly in the service industry.
Why Net Promoter Score?
Net Promoter Score (NPS) is used by some of the leading organizations across the globe as a tool to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Verizon and General Electric have benefited by building their customer relationships and loyalty programs using NPS. NPS categorizes all customers into one of three groups—promoters, passives, and detractors—allowing employees throughout a company to see right away whether a customer experience was a success or a failure—and why. NPS is generated by asking customers a single question, “How likely would you be to recommend [this company or product] to a friend or a colleague?” Respondents that give ratings of 9 or 10 are promoters and are the company’s strongest supporters. Those scoring their experience as 7 or 8 are passives, and those scoring it from 0 to 6 are detractors. NPS is calculated as the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. Customers are then asked to describe why they would be likely or unlikely to recommend the company. The insights gathered from their answers enable employees to quickly identify issues that create detractors—and the actions required to address them.
NPS at Sciformix
At Sciformix we have consistently focused on delivering rewarding experiences to our customers. We understand that trust is earned one project at a time. Research has shown that when a person is satisfied with a company or service they are more likely to share their experience with other people to the order of perhaps five or six people. However, dissatisfied customers are likely to tell another ten about their unfortunate experience.
In light of this, we saw an opportunity. As an organization we took a step back and analyzed if we could do better. Our customers were satisfied with our services. But was that enough? We decided it wasn’t enough to satisfy them. We needed to do more. We needed to go the extra mile. We needed to delight them!
Selecting NPS as the right tool was only half the job done. We needed to customize it to our line of business and ensure the survey sought feedback on all parameters such as compliance, quality, service delivery, governance, communication, innovation and continuous improvement. We also added specific questions in the survey that addressed the customer’s satisfaction levels around our support teams (training effectiveness, IT infrastructure, finance, human resources, etc.). This helped us gauge customer sentiment not just on our operational competence but also how non-customer facing departments contributed to the overall customer experience.
Findings from the Survey
For our first survey, we took all measures to ensure the NPS survey and our efforts were well received. Communication prior to launching the survey was key and customers were informed through multiple channels (in person, via e-mail, and during team meetings) of our intention to launch the program, about how they needed to respond and how it was mutually beneficial and would help us enhance their experience. A post-survey redressal process was put in place which would ensure an open dialog with customers on the scope and areas of improvement.
Our customers were very receptive and keen to be part of the program, which was reflective in our response rate and responses. The program revealed so many success stories across the company. We also received constructive feedback on where we needed to improve and the redressal process involved teams going back to customers to understand their concerns and taking concrete documented steps to address them.
NPS is not the measure of a single interaction. It may seem that way on the surface and this is where companies tend to falter. They are prone to misuse NPS in a transactional environment. The impact of NPS is far broader. It is measure of a company’s overall relationship with their customers across all customer touch points.
By integrating the learnings from customers, functional managers can avoid the wrong trade-offs between differing priorities. For instance, instead of trying to hit Six Sigma quality levels at every touch point—which can be prohibitively expensive—companies can learn to focus on the few that really build or destroy loyalty. In fact, tools that measure customer satisfaction only in the aggregate might never have uncovered the problem.
When using NPS to set strategic direction at the top; refine processes, services, products, or policies in the middle; or sharpen service at the front lines, customer-focused organizations are not preoccupied with simply attaining high scores. Instead, they spur organizational action, innovation, build customer loyalty, collect subsequent customer feedback to gauge if the actions they took produced results, and finally build strategic partnerships.