#101 – Choosing projects, benchmarks, tech support cartoons


Welcome to the 101st Customer Strategy newsletter! The five topics this week are:

  1. Unusual tips on prioritizing / choosing improvement initiatives
  2. Why not share your benchmark NPS data with customers?
  3. Latest blog posts – Deep series on NPS continues
  4. Notable items from other sites – Tech support cartoons – Vertica NPS benchmarks
  5. Looking forward

Unusual tips on prioritizing / choosing improvement initiatives

Like many of you, I suppose, I have often been confronted by the need to choose among possible projects. This happens in every business area, not just customer experience. I won’t bother you with the usual and obvious selection criteria such as ROI. What follows is a more personal list. These are three factors I have found to be important over time and I hope you will find something new here.

  1. Choose projects that your manager’s manager is likely to find important. This has all sorts of advantages. It makes your own manager look good. If your manager leaves or changes jobs you can be reasonably sure the project will continue. You will probably get asked to present the project and provide status updates two levels up in the organization. Hello promotion opportunities!
  2. Don’t consider any projects that will deliver nothing worthwhile during the first nine months. Indeed, I think your projects should demonstrably deliver something worthwhile every two to three months. It is one of the keys to retaining sponsorship for your work. If your project plan is to deliver nothing major in the first nine months, well… what can I say? You have failed the project management ‘pregnancy test’. Something will change in the environment during those months and will prevent success.
  3. Choose projects that are likely to be easy to communicate. If the project is really quite sophisticated you should at least choose a clear and simple name that describes what the project is about. Ideally the name should make someone who wants to stop the project sound like an idiot. Try saying “Let’s stop the ‘on-time delivery’ initiative.” There, did that sound like a good idea? Of course you then actually have to communicate progress regularly and generate ongoing enthusiasm for your output. If you don’t have a communications person on your team, go and get one or at least borrow one part-time.

Why not share your benchmark NPS data with customers?

If you are among the many companies that have reliable customer experience benchmark information, why not share that information with your customers? There is no individually identifiable customer information in such data, so you should not have any privacy concerns. Your company does not have to be the best one on the list. Indeed it may make you seem even more honest and open if you are not at the very top.

When I say ‘reliable customer experience benchmark information’, here is what I mean:

  1. It is ‘double-blind’, meaning customers answering the questions do not know who is funding the research. And ideally the people asking the questions don’t know either. The latter point is not so important if your research is carried out online but matters if done by phone.
  2. It covers your company and your main competitors.
  3. The research is performed by a third party that is recognized as an expert in the area.

Of course, you may not want to make broad public announcements that provide a ranked list of all relevant companies. Comparing yourself to the competitive average may be enough. This was all brought to mind by a new blog post by Dr. James Borderick of Micro Focus. He openly says that Micro Focus is ranked 12th among 50 companies covered by the double-blind research. He then goes on to provide a comparison between Micro Focus and the average company for each of four subsets of the overall software business. If you find the rankings strange compared to the overall ranking, just bear in mind that there are fewer competitors in each of the subset areas than in the overall total, as not everyone competes everywhere.

Where you have a particularly strong position, I suggest providing your sales people with the full details. I can’t think of a reason not to let them show customers how you compare to other companies they may be considering.

Have a look at the Micro Focus information here.


Our latest blog posts

The posts on this list are part of my extensive and deep series about the Net Promoter System. The one at the top of the list is one of the most popular articles I have ever written. (Thank you.) Older posts are still available on the blog page.

image NPS (17) – Does culture affect NPS / customer survey outcomes? – 17th in the series on NPS

This is the 17th article in a series on the Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System. This time I cover cultural differences in the way people respond to surveys.…

image NPS (16) – Five more survey response rate improvement suggestions – 16th in the series on NPS

This is the 16th article in a series on the Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System. In addition to the direct marketing techniques mentioned in my last article, here…

image NPS (15) – Use direct marketing techniques to improve survey response rates – 15th in the series on NPS

This is the 15th article in a series on the Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System. The subject this time is the use of classical direct marketing techniques to improve response rates to survey requests sent by email.

image NPS (14) – 14th in the series – Customer survey response rates and statistical significance

Welcome to the 14th article in my series about NPS and the Net Promoter System. This time I cover response rates, sample sizes and statistical significance. Perhaps the most important subject covered here is how best to communicate information about significance. (Hint: Don’t!)

image NPS (13) – 13th in the series – Whether and when to survey

This is the 13th episode in my series on the Net Promoter Score and the Net Promoter System. This one is a bit longer than the average and covers some thoughts about whether you should surevy customers at all, and if so, when.

image NPS (12) – 12th in the series – Should I weight my survey results?

So you have your survey results and the sample population is not representative of your customer population. So should you play around with the numbers until they match? A difficult question. There is a learning check / quiz at the end of this article.

Notable customer experience items from other sites

Reader’s Digest – 25 funny cartoons technophobes can appreciate

These seem to be quite old, given what computers look like in many of them. Some real goodies. I particularly like the one about the virus.

Have a good laugh here.

Joy King – Vertica scores big in customer satisfaction

Since we have already been on the subject of Micro Focus above, here is an additional example of the use of double-blind NPS research data in customer communication. Joy King is a former colleague of mine and is VP of Product Management and Product Marketing for the Vertica business. Vertica can best be described as a columnar database. Columnar databases are many times faster than relational databases. Even when I worked at HP part of their customer list was a secret. I never learned why and speculate that the major Silicon Valley companies who were customers wanted $$$ for us to use them as references. I agree with about 95% of what she has written here. My hesitation is for what she says about benchmark NPS numbers above 60. They are rare, but they do exist. She is right that you should treat such numbers that are presented without details of how they are determined as probably bogus.

Read Joy’s article here.


Looking forward

Currently negotiating two speaking engagements for after the summer vacation period. You can see a video of on of my keynotes here. Just email me at mfg@customerstrategy.net if I can help motivate or inform your team.

Maurice FitzGerald on stage in Amsterdam

Here are links to all of our books on Amazon.com. Kindle versions are available in all stores. Print versions are available from the major stores only. And as of two weeks ago, you can find the books, or at least order them in many bookstores. If you have already read any of our books, please write reviews on Amazon.

Customer Experience Strategy – Design & Implementation

Net Promoter – Implement the System

Customer-centric Cost Reduction

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Color edition)

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Black & White edition)

Please share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to sign up for it here. I have put links to past newsletters on the subscription page. Finally, please feel free to change or cancel your subscription using the link below.

You can also email me, Maurice FitzGerald, at mfg@customerstrategy.net.

To change your subscription, click here.