NPS (28) – The team(s) and tools you need to be successful – 28th article in a series on the Net Promoter System®
Welcome to the 28th article in my series on the Net Promoter Score and System. This time I introduce the part of the Net Promoter System framework that is called the ‘Robust Operational and Analytic Infrastructure’, and go on to provide some suggestions about the team or teams you need to be successful. You can read all of the prior articles on our blog page here.
It is about the team and the tools
This part of the framework is about the team and the tools. What sort of team do you need? Where should it report? What tools do you need to conduct research and understand the results? The Net Promoter System research process produces lots of written answers from customers, and indeed from your own people if they interview customers. What can be used to transform all that unstructured information into deep insights? Are you better off with a set of individual tools, or a single comprehensive solution?
Software is in constant evolution
Software is evolving at a much faster rate than the Net Promoter System. The software that is improving most quickly is that used to analyze open text responses to surveys. Traditional analysis tools require data to be structured. Text responses are unstructured data. Relatively new techniques such as Natural Language Processing are required to deal with it. I will provide guidelines and an example of how to choose text analysis software. The guidelines should not change, but the answer they provide you will change, as each vendor improves their product.
A second area that is in constant evolution is comprehensive software platforms to manage everything from a customer list, to surveying, routing and tracking follow-up actions, reporting and project management. Some software solutions are integrated into Customer Relationship Management systems like Salesforce.com, and some are standalone. I will only cover this area superficially.
Some NPS areas are mature
There are parts of the system that are mature, and where software exists that does a perfect job. This is the case for the basic research or survey software. Within reason, it is hard to go disastrously wrong. I have my personal preferences, which I explain.
Team(s) – Focus produces results
It is easy to say, “Everybody is responsible for the customer”. The problem with this statement is that when everyone spends a little of their time on improving things for customers, but nobody does it full-time, nothing is likely to change. If you are already the loyalty leader in your industry, that may not be a problem in the short term. Success in improving customer experience requires a dedicated person or team. That leader must be well-connected and respected in your organization. Where the leader reports does not matter much. The teams of which leaders are members matter a lot.
Relationship with sales leadership is critical
If you are successful in measuring and improving customer experience, you will sell more. Your sales team should find that value proposition quite compelling. The customer experience leader needs to have an excellent relationship with sales and should be part of their leadership team. I am not suggesting that he or she should report to the sales leader, simply that they must be in the team. My own approach has been to start by proposing to attend an internal sales meeting to present competitive benchmark data. Sales teams find the insights about their competitive advantages and disadvantages to be really useful, so they have always been attentive. Using that positive feedback, I then propose to be a permanent member of the sales leadership team. That has usually worked for me.
Reporting lines in larger organizations
In a large organization, each major business should have a customer experience leader. The job title does not matter. Customer Advocacy is used quite often. Personally, I have held a full-time customer experience role reporting to the EVP of Software at HP and have previously combined the job with the Chief of Staff role for other business areas. The Chief of Staff tends to be well-connected, neutral, and controls the leadership agenda. Having editorial control means customer experience can always be part of strategic discussions. If the Customer Advocacy leader is a full-time role, a great relationship with the person setting leadership meeting agendas is important. Customer Experience falls into the general category of things that are important but not urgent, and can easily become an agenda also-ran.
Chief Customer Officer role
There are aspects of customer-centricity that cannot be addressed within a single business or function. We have seen the rise of the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) over recent years. The CCO should report to the CEO. The job description should include most of the following areas, depending on the size of your company:
- Chair and run a cross-organizational Customer Experience Council that shares successes and agrees strategy across your company.
- Define, fund and implement the on-boarding and refresher NPS training that should be mandatory for all employees of all levels, including the executive leadership team.
- Define and implement appropriate NPS measurement and reporting standards across the company.
- Regularly report progress to the Executive Leadership Team.
The only advantage I see with the CCO title is that it is better recognized externally than, for example, the Customer Advocacy Officer title. The job content is the same.
Customer complaints team
It is a good idea to have a single customer complaints team for your entire organization. The phone and email contact details for complaints should be visible at the top level of your company website. “Log a complaint” is a reasonably clear heading. The person or people should accept complaints from both internal and external sources. It is difficult for complaints team members to be effective if they are new to the company. The ideal profile is a relatively experienced company veteran who understands the organization and can get things done quickly. A single person could do this on a part-time basis in a small company. A team is needed for a large organization. When I managed this for HP in EMEA, covering consumer and enterprise businesses, there were over 100 people in the complaints team in Europe alone. We had 350,000 employees in the whole company at the time. The range of work was quite extreme, even including representing the company in small claims courts when people went there to get satisfaction on a printer or PC problem.
The complaints team, and perhaps your full organization, should have the authority to spend a certain amount of money to resolve complaints immediately, without further approval. That amount should be something between $1,000 and $10,000. At HP, the Swiss complaints team could leave the office, go to a local electronics store, buy a product and drive it to the customer’s home near Zurich, if that was appropriate. Flowers and other small gifts are a good way of apologizing when you make mistakes or a product is defective. Think about this when you are trying to turn around detractors. Note in passing that most countries have rules prohibiting gifts to government employees, so your processes need to take this into account.
The next article will be about the survey infrastructure you need for success.
As is often the case, the above is a slightly-edited version of a chapter in one of our books; in this case Net Promoter – Implement the System All of our books are available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon stores worldwide, and from your better book retailers.