There has never been a more important time to understand what is going through your customers’ heads. The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty across the market and enterprises of all kinds are looking for a solid understanding of their customer base as they prepare for recovery.
Brand ambassadors have used the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to get those answers for almost a decade. Created by Bain & Company as a way of measuring the customer experience, the tool is an attempt to predict growth based on a customer’s current satisfaction.
If you have turned to NPS recently and found the results troubling, do not be too alarmed. The data is an indicator, not an end. Low marks mean you have some customer success work to do, but it is possible to learn how to improve NPS.
Five basic customer success best practices can help move the needle on your net promoter scores:
- Segment to Find Trends
- Turn Data into Actions
- Maximize Your Resources
- Place Results in Context
- Regularly Survey Customers
- Track Progress Over Time
First, though, we will look at how net promoter scores are calculated and what they actually mean for your enterprise.
How Net Promoter Scores Work
NPS measures your customer’s experience of and attitude toward your product by asking them to rank on a sliding scale how likely they would be to recommend your product to a colleague. The higher the mark out of 10, the more satisfied the customer, and, by implication, the more likely they are to renew.
Customers that report a 9 or 10 out of 10 are described as “promoters” because they are so happy with your product they promote it to their peers. Those that rank as a 7 or 8 are said to be “neutral” and are unlikely to comment on your product. Finally, those that rate between 0 and 6 are “detractors” who are likely to churn and may discourage others from using your product.
To get to the “net” part of the metric, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters—the score will range between -100 and 100. The higher the final measurement, the better. These scores are not end results, however. They are indicators of a customer’s current attitude and they can change over time. In other words, net promoter scores are under your influence.
What an NPS Really Means
The NPS metric was designed to get a look at a customer’s thinking right now. In times of uncertainty or volatility, it can cut through the economic factors to reveal the customer’s baseline opinion of you and your product.
A customer may have a strong respect for you and your performance, for example, even though their cash flow volatility suggests they are in danger of churning. Such a customer is worth directing time and effort toward despite their reduced short-term value because they are likely to positively influence others and reinvest with you when dangers pass.
This shows how NPS data, as with all metrics, is only useful if it is actionable. Strong scores could encourage you to take action in the form of upsell, cross-sell, and expansion campaigns, or by developing a customer case study or asking the customer to speak at an event. A low score means you must reengage your customer success planning and work to provide additional value to your customer.
6 Best Practices for Your CS Team
Net promoter scores are a snapshot of the customer experience. They are not a goal but an indicator of how you are progressing toward your real goal: to encourage mutual long-term growth by providing value.
Improving your NPS means improving the customer experience. You can do this by following a few customer success best practices. The first of those is a way of leveraging technology to take advantage of patterns among customers.
1. Segment to Find Trends
Send NPS surveys to customers by segment. This allows you to see how each group performs on average, and saves you time by grouping customers before surveys are taken, rather than after. Your low scores may stem from a common source, occur at the same time in a customer journey, be linked to outdated software, or coincide with changes in your onboarding process. Search for a pattern among your low scores.
2. Turn Data into Actions
Your enterprise’s net promoter scores are just as important as how you respond to those scores. Provide your internal team with recommended next steps on how to engage individuals customers effectively based on their surveys. For example, create a set of standardized email campaigns to implement, no matter what NP scores your customer returns, that is unique to their needs and provides individualized support. Promoters may be willing to actively endorse your product, neutral customers can be offered value incentives, and detractors should be engaged with win-back campaigns to develop a better understanding of their situation and provide a solution.
3. Maximize Your Resources
You can increase the effectiveness of your customer success actions by pairing accounts with the right team members. Technologies such as dynamic assignment promote personalized customer support by linking customers with CS team members according to their specialty, history, capacity, preferences, location, and other traits. Dynamic assignment can be used to connect customers with low NP scores with employees that can help them with specific issues or teach them to use valuable features without overwhelming the CS team.
4. Place Results in Context
Bain & Company’s own leaders recommend NPS data be placed within a broader context of customer data and behavior in order to get the most out of the information. You should cross-reference your NPS data against customer behavior metrics, support ticket and call center information, other voice of customer data, and your customer’s unique product journey.
5. Regularly Survey Customers
An NPS isn’t a one-time metric. Customers should be re-surveyed regularly to ensure that those with a high NPS are still satisfied and to determine if progress has been made to increase satisfaction for those with lower scores. Best practice is to send out a survey after each “success event.” For example, you will want to survey customers after onboarding and after launching a new product or feature. The frequency of these surveys will depend on how your business operates. Companies that make major releases every quarter may want to survey customers every quarter, though only after giving customers plenty of time to try out and adjust to anything new.
6. Track Progress Over Time
Staying close to the voice of your customer is critical to customer success as it allows you to remain relevant and anticipate future need. Consider a customer with a low NPS a priority and track their product usage over time against benchmarked data to identify means to provide additional value. You will also want to track customers’ NPS over time. A positive or negative trend in NPS data reveals whether efforts to improve NPS are working.
How to Improve NPS with the Right Platform
Your ability to understand, serve, and ultimately retain your customers depends on your ability to collect and act on the right customer information. Your customer success platform is at the heart of those efforts. You must be able to accurately gather data, share it across your enterprise, and use it to provide proactive value for your customers.
A customer success platform that makes collecting and acting on net promoter scores easy can help give you an edge during times of change and volatility.
Totango’s customer success platform gives you a comprehensive understanding of your customer. Our Voice of the Customer SuccessBLOC provides scorecards, playbooks, campaigns, task automation, and more to help you gather, understand, and act upon customer sentiment data.
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