Our clients often ask about how to most effectively use the outcome score (e.g., NPS, loyalty index, overall satisfaction, etc.) to improve the customer service experience. Over the years, a number have opted to include an objective for Net Promoter Score® performance, as an example. The outcome measure becomes a part of the manager’s evaluation and compensation.
Unfortunately, using the score as an incentive has several unintended consequences:
- Inevitably, arguments arise over whether to include or exclude individual surveys. Sometimes, a small number of negative surveys may have a disproportionate impact on the outcome measured. Unproductive discussions arise about fixing the score rather than fixing the store.
- Getting a sufficient number of surveys, so the score is reflective of actual performance is difficult for clients with multiple locations of varying sizes
- Focusing too much on the score instead of listening to what customers are saying about what they like and dislike about the service experience.
Of course, you still need to keep score. After all, financial statements are a way of keeping score. They tell us where opportunities are though not necessarily what to do about them—just like customer feedback. For example, if inventory is too high or too low, we take action to adjust it. If sales and marketing expenses are out of line, we correct the spending.
How do you balance a focus on the score with the need to encourage people to take action? There are several ways to do this. Some of the steps our clients have taken include:
- Adding critical action items as a component of dealer excellence. One of our clients is a manufacturer selling its products through a dealer network. Until this year, they had NPS as a significant component of their dealer excellence program. They removed it this year and, instead, made implementing a critical action item or items to improve the service experience as a component of dealer excellence. Now, field people evaluate the improvements and offer suggestions for improvement. The company still has an overall NPS objective, but the focus now is less on the score and more on encouraging/incenting dealers to take the specific step(s) to create a better customer experience.
- Creating a Customer Experience Playbook. One client developed a playbook with proven measures to improve the customer experience. To ensure that their branch locations are following the playbook, they are performing random audits and providing grades on both NPS performance, but, more importantly, assessments on how well they are implementing the customer experience playbook.
- Utilizing technology. Other clients are looking at how technology can be deployed to improve communication with their customers, something critical to customer satisfaction and loyalty in the B-to-B world. With this technology, they can let the customer know repair status or where a part is. Importantly, they notify the customer if the service will be completed at the time promised, whether it will be early or late. They communicate with the customer via email, phone or text. This technology has been in the auto industry for some years but is now moving into the B-to-B space.
Again, scores do matter. After all, that is what sports teams look at when the game is over. However, the scores do not say much about how the game was played. To improve customer experience in the B-to-B world, we still need to pay attention to the score but more important is how the game is being played.