Tony Hsieh

One of the most popular ways to collect customer feedback is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). For those not familiar with it, visit this link to get an understanding of what it is. While it definitely has people who are opposed to it, I’m an advocate of it because I’ve seen it grow businesses firsthand and have operated successful programs.

Many of the business people I connect with believe Net Promoter Score would be great for their company but they don’t know how to bring it to their bosses attention and ask for their buy in.

This post will help you gather everything you need to approach your boss and have her adopt it in 2014.

1. Study, study, study

Before you begin the conversation with your boss, you need to have a deep understanding of the value NPS will bring to your business. I was first made aware of NPS while working at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? The following is an exact list of things I did to better educate myself on the system which eventually put me in a position to help other organizations launch it within their business.

I would estimate that over a six year period, I have put in 100′s (1000′s maybe) of hours studying NPS to put myself in a position to be an expert. Thankfully, you don’t need to put in that much time to bring it to your bosses attention to influence adoption.

2. Build your presentation

I’ve seen many NPS program fail because it didn’t have an “executive sponsor.” You must have a leader within the organization supporting you and your efforts. To ensure that you’re taken seriously, host a formal meeting with everyone in your organization that will be able to give NPS the green light. Of course, prior to calling a meeting, you need to ensure you have your presentation ready and are prepared to answer any questions. Here is a simple outline of how you can build your presentation.

  • Begin with WHAT

To start off your presentation, assume that no one in the room knows what NPS is. While some may, others may not. The great thing about NPS is that it’s extremely simple and easy to explain. Do not spend more than 60 seconds explaining what NPS is because you will lose your audiences attention.

Something that can be helpful is to include a one page PDF that serves as a high level explanation of NPS and include it within the meeting maker. This way, attendees can read a brief overview of what NPS is before attending the presentation.

Use one of the slides to share what companies are currently using NPS (Zappos, American Express, Costco etc) and include a testimonial from a recognizable business person. Here’s one from Tony Hsieh (Zappos – Founder, CEO) “We use NPS every day to make sure we are WOWing our customers and our employees.” This will definitely help grab your audiences attention.

  • Focus more on WHY than WHAT

This is a common sales technique. When selling a product, service, or in this case, NPS, you need to focus on why the company needs this system to be a stronger organization. If you’ve successfully studied NPS, you will know that all companies, regardless of size, need NPS in their business because it’s simple, actionable and provides “customer intelligence.”

It’s simple. One of the reasons I began advocating NPS is because everyone from the CEO down to the frontline employee can understand the calculation and methodologies. You don’t need to have a degree in statistics or MBA to comprehend it.

Externally, customers like it too because they don’t need to spend 5 or 10 minutes completing it which causes “survey fatigue” and low response rates. I’ve seen NPS survey response rates range from 25-65%.

It’s actionable.

NPS is an amazing way to increase customer retention. When a customer rates you a 0-8, you must have a process in place to saves these customers. With the proper system in place you can set up alerts to make your organization aware when a customer have received poor service or aren’t happy with your product or service.

After deploying NPS, I coach companies to build a Complaint Resolution System to work hand in hand with NPS. These two programs working together allowed me to help a company reduce system wide customer complaints by 33% in three months.

It provides customer intelligence

Marketers who use NPS effectively love it because it tells them exactly why their customers use their service or product. Having this information increases a company’s “customer intelligence.” Along with hosting Customer Advisory Board, NPS is the best way to understand your customers behaviours and aversions.

Companies that leverage NPS effectively give themselves a massive competitive advantage over their competitors because they understand their customers behaviours better. I’m finding that most organizations have no idea why their customers buy off them. Instead, they use anecdotal or personal assumptions.

  • Explain the HOW

You can use many different channels of communication to collect customer feedback with NPS. The most popular ways are email, SMS (text), mobile and by phone (calling the customer). My personal preference is email and mobile because it’s much easier to scale.

A few things you will need to explain in your presentation is: who will be involved, what do we need and timeline.

Who will be involved: the point of this first meeting isn’t to finalize who will “own” NPS in your company. Your goal is to show that you have thought this through. You can provide multiple examples of who may be in the best position to lead the program, “I believe NPS would be best run by (department name) because this team has shown to deploy company wide programs very successfully. This person or department ultimately becomes the SPA (single point of accountability) and internal experts within the company.

What do we need: I’ve seen many companies launch NPS without the proper tools. I suggest that all companies build NPS handbooks that explains what NPS is and why the company adopted it (having your CEO or owner right a foreword works great). These handbooks work brilliantly for new employees to immerse themselves into the culture of your company. You will also need to be able to share all of the data (scores and customer comments) across the entire organization. If your company has an internal intranet, your SPA should be responsible for sharing the company’s score and actual customer comments on a regular basis. I’ve seen some companies mount flat screen tv’s around their office to showcase this.

Timeline: If you’re a small business and use Survey Monkey, you can be up and running in a week or two. If you’re a medium to large sized business that wants to purchase NPS software, it may take you a month or two. I would not recommend building the software yourself, it takes too much time and effort.

3. Be prepared to answer objections

As I mentioned earlier, there are many naysayers of NPS but I find that most of these people have never run a program before or have competing systems. Here are a few objections you need to be prepared to answer.

  • “NPS doesn’t allow you to take action.” This is completely false. I think that the founders of NPS did themselves a disservice by calling their first book “The Ultimate Question” because you need to be asking two questions. First, “on a scale from 0-10 where 10 is absolutely and 0 is absolutely not, how likely is it that you would refer [our company] to a friend of colleague?” The second question is dependent on the answer to the first question. If the customer rates you 0-8 (detractor or passive) you ask, “What is it that [our company] needs to do to earn a better recommendation?” If the customer is a promoter (scores 9-10) ask, “What is it that [our company] does exceptional well to earn your recommendation?” This is where you collect the data, categorize it after it’s been received and understand your strengths and customer aversions.
  • “Just because your customer says they will recommend you doesn’t mean that they will or have.” I agree with this statement but I believe that you need to get creative. I recently helped an organization overcome this obstacle by leveraging promotion codes. We surveyed their customers via email and launched something called “social sharing.” When a customers rated the company a 9 or 10, we would send them to a landing page that allowed them to leverage the Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin API. By leveraging these API’s, we created a message that said, “I love [company] and I think you will too” and attached a link to the companies website with unique promo code. When one of the customers friends or followers saw this post on their Facebook wall or Twitter feed they could click on it and be directed to the companies website. If the referred customer decided to buy from the website the promo code allowed the company to track these referrals and new customers. Like I explained, you need to get creative, NPS isn’t without its faults (like other survey methods).
  • “NPS sounds great but we are too busy right now.” The key to overcoming this objection is to get it on your yearly strategic plan or task list so it does get priority. Another rebuttal to this is to say, “What’s more important than listening to our customers? They are the ones who pay us our salaries and have a roof over our heads.”

As I mentioned before, I’m a HUGE fan of Net Promoter Score because I’ve seen it grow businesses and witnessed entire companies rally behind it with impressive results. If you’re the individual who successfully spearheads NPS within your company you will leave a lasting legacy.

Do you have any questions about Net Promoter Score? If so, comment below or email me.