Let’s leave aside the theoretical aspects and arguments related to the suitability of using NPS. Instead, let’s consider the implications of using NPS as a performance management tool rather than simply as an indicator which tells us who well we are doing, as an organisation, in building meaningful relationships with customers.
Every human activity produces both things that we want – “goods” – and things we don’t want – “bads”.
- Garrett Hardin, Filters Against Folly
It occurs to me that when we use NPS as a performance management tool we act on the people in the organisation, we act on customers, we alter the balance of power between the multiple parties. And we inject high does of fear and greed into the rich tapestry of human interactions.
This is how we end up generating the “bads” – the dark side of using NPS as a performance management tool. Let’s get specify and look at the dark side. What shows up?
- Customer facing employees (sales, service) and their managers game the system to generate high NPS scores;
Some customers are either ‘bribed’ and-or ‘pressured’ to give high scores;
Some customers, especially the more powerful ones in B2B, exercise their new-found power to extract concessions – free ‘products’, more discounts, credits, special treatment – from the sales reps and account managers; and
Some sales reps and account managers ‘give away’ more than they need to’ in order to play safe and assure high NPS scores. This ‘giving away’ tends to be in the region of services which do not directly impact on the revenue figures and commission cheque of the sale rep.
I leave you to decide whether the “goods” generated by using NPS as a performance management tool outweigh the “bads” that I have shared with you. I do assure you that points 3 and 4 above are not just theoretical – this behaviour is occurring.
Next time you are planning an intervention in the rich web of human relationships get together a diverse group of people, including those who are likely to be impacted, and explore this question: what is likely to happen – today and over the course of time – after we make this intervention?
I get a letter
I got a letter through the post informing me that I was due for an eye test. Given that it has been several years since I had my eyes tested I welcomed the colourful reminder from Boots. I noticed that I could book an appointment online or by calling. At that moment I did not have a laptop handy so I chose to call. My call was picked up almost immediately and a helpful chap booked an appointment for me at the local Boots (Opticians) store.
How am I feeling? Happy. What kind of impression do I have of Boots? This is an organisation that has its act together: it has sent me a useful reminder, it has offered me several options, it has made it easy for me to book an appointment, and the fellow on the phone exuded human warmth.
I turn up at the store for an eye test
Several days later I turned up at the local Boots Opticians store. The store looks spacious and clean – I notice the whiteness of the store and I wonder if Boots is ‘stealing’ from the Apple retail stores. Walking up to the woman at the counter, I smile, I give my name and let her know I am there for an eye test. This is an opportunity for her to show up as a human being. She declines. In her best robotic voice, she tells me to take a seat.
Looking around the various stands housing the spectacles, I notice four seats in line. Two seats are occupied, two are free. As I approach the seats I notice that one of the seats is dirty – obviously dirty. The dirtiness of seat clashes with the sparkling whiteness of the store. And I notice that the seats (for customers) look crammed in comparison with the spaciousness of the rest of the store.
What does this tell me? It tells me that the star of the show at Boots Opticians is the product: the range of spectacles. How am I left feeling? Disappointed. Unwanted. What am I thinking? I wonder what the rest of the experience is going to be like.
The eye test happens
Shortly, and on time, a professional looking man comes out from the ‘back’ of the store, calls my name, and asks me to follow him. He shows me into a ‘tiny area’ which houses three machines. At one of the machines, a member of staff is testing a customer. I am handed over to a young woman. She proceeds to conduct an eye test. Whilst another member of staff takes my glasses to get those tested.
What am I thinking? I am asking myself how it is that there is so much space in the front for the spectacles and so little space at the back for conducting eye tests on customers. And I am asking myself if a lack of ‘human warmth’ goes with the opticians and/or the Boots brand. I am clear that for the staff, I show up as a ‘widget’ to be processed and not as a ‘flesh and blood’ human being.
Thankfully, the eye test does not take that long and the professional looking man is back. He asks me to follow him and walks me to a room that occurs as positively spacious-luxurious. Over the course of the next 10 – 20 minutes he proceeds to test my vision by inserting different lenses into the spectacles he has placed on my nose. His manner is professional. He shows up as knowing what he is doing.
At the end of the testing he tells me that my short-sightedness is slightly worse. And that I have started to become long-sighted too. He tells me that I can either have two pairs of spectacles – one for short sightedness and one for reading. Or I can go for one pair of spectacles that will cater for both needs. He suggests that I go for the single bifocal pair of spectacles. He then hands me over to another member of staff.
I walk out without buying spectacles
The new member of staff, a good looking lady with a smile, is keen to take me to the front of the store to pick spectacles. I decline. Instead I ask for my prescription, receive the prescription, make my way to the robotic lady on the counter, pay and leave.
Why did I not buy? I did not buy because I did not feel valued. I did not buy because it did not occur to me that I was consulted on my needs. I did not buy because it occurred to me that the focus of the staff in the store was to sell me spectacles. I did not buy because the people in the store and the experience lacked any semblance of humanity. Put plainly, I was looking for an ‘I-Thou’ relationship and what I got was an ‘I-It’ relationship – I was the ‘It’.
I look forward to the day, that an ‘Amazon’ like competitor puts the likes of Boots Opticians out of business.
Investments in CRM (including database marketing) are not likely to yield the desired results if the customer experience sucks! To generate ROI from CRM investments you have to pay attention to the customer experience.
This post continues the conversation started in the earlier post which disclosed the UK’s Top 10 Customer Experience brands and provided an analysis of the Top 100 brands by industry.
Nunwood’s Six Pillars of Customer Experience
The folks at Nunwood claim “we have used advanced text analytic techniques to derive and then statistically validate the six most important factors that customers talk about when it comes to great experiences”. What are these factors?
Personalisation: using individualised attention to drive emotional engagement
Time & Effort: valuing the customers time – minimising the effort and creating frictionless processes
Expectations: managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations
Integrity: being trustworthy and engendering trust
Resolution: turning a poor customer experience into a great one
Empathy: achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive deep rapport
What can we learn about these six pillars of Customer Experience by looking at the Top 10 brands?
In their report Nunwood list the top brands by each of the Customer Experience pillars. So:
- Amazon sits at the very top for the Personalisation and Time & Effort pillars;
- Virgin Atlantic is the leader in the Expectations pillar;
- John Lewis leads when it comes to the Integrity pillar; and
- QVC leads in both the Resolution and Empathy pillars.
What is not easy to do, from the report, is to see at one glance what each of the Top 10 brands does in terms of these six pillars. So I have taken some time to piece that together for you and here it is:
In the next and last post, I will share with you details of the “brands that have cracked the code” and are making major leaps forward – according to Nunwood. And in particular I will single out one brand that shows up for as being truly innovative in its business model, in customer engagement, in being social and making online community work, in putting its customers truly at the centre of its way of doing business. I also happen to be a customer of this brand.
I have been studying the 2013 UK report by Nunwood’s Customer Experience Centre and in this post I share with you what shows up for me.
Which are the UK’s Top 10 Customer Experience brands and why?
Comparing to last year I notice that:
1. Amazon has dropped to fourth place. Why? The report suggests that this is due to two factors: reputation damage related to tax avoidance and performance of delivery companies.
2. QVC (TV centred shopping channel) comes in at no 2. It appears that in previous years the responses failed to meet the minimum required and so QVC was excluded.
3. The Co-operative Bank has not just fallen out of the Top 10, it has fallen out of the Top 100. Given it’s much publicised troubles centred on its finances this does not come as a surprise. Above all, it occurs to me, that a bank has to have a reputation for being financially sound.
4. M&S, one of the UK’s traditional and loved brands, has moved into the Top 10.
5. Four out of the Top 10 positions are held by two organisations – The John Lewis Partnership and M&S: organisations that have a reputation for caring about their people, caring about their customers and showing this through the quality-range- vfm of their products, and the quality of their service.
Which industries dominate the Top 100 Customer Experience brands?
Given that Nunwood has not done an analysis by industry, it occurred to me that it would be useful to do one. Here is what shows up:
The retail industry leads in the sense that 44 out of the Top 100 places are filled by retail brands. And 10 of the Top 22 customer experience brands are in retail (as classified by Nunwood). Please note I have not listed all of the retail brands in the Top 100 – too many brands.
The supermarkets take 3 out of the Top 10 places, 7 out of the Top 20 places, and 11 out of the Top 100 places. That is quite some domination given the relatively small number of players in this category. It’s interesting that all of the big names are in the Top 20 except for Tesco (47), Morrisons (29) and Lidl (53).
The food & eatery industry takes 14 out of the Top 100 places. None of the brands in this category is in the Top 50. It is interesting to note that Starbucks is missing from the Top 100. Could this be due to the brand damage that Starbucks has suffered due to the tax avoidance issue that has hit Starbucks much harder than say Amazon? Who says life is fair?
The travel & tourism industry takes 16 out of the Top 100 places. There is only one brand in the Top 10 (Virgin Atlantic) and three in the Top 20 (Virgin Atlantic, Butlins, Emirates). Looks like airline travel experience is not that hard to get right if you are committed to getting it right like Virgin Atlantic and Emirates. The surprise appearance (for me) is Butlins. It looks like Butlins have invested in their staff and their hotels and this is paying off.
The telecoms & media industry only takes 3 out of the Top 100 places. Do you notice who is missing? All the big brands like Vodafone, Sky, EE, BT, O2, TalkTalk, Virgin Media …… yet these are the very brands that do much talking about customer service, customer experience, customer-centricity. Seems to me that all this customer talk could just be ‘marketing talk’.
The financial services industry takes 12 out of the Top 100 places. And like the telecoms industry none of the big brands – Barclays, RBS, Lloyds, Santander – are present. It will be interesting to see how much headway the supermarket brands - M&S Bank (23), Sainsburys Bank (83) – can make in this industry. Given the shift to digital-mobile banking, it would be interesting to see what will happen when the likes of Amazon decide to go into that market.
The energy & utilities industry. Have you noticed that not one of the energy and utility players is in the Top 100? No British Gas, no EDF, no Npower, no E.on, no Thames Water, no Severn Trent ….. If the energy industry proves anything it proves this, you don’t need to pay attention to customers when you have structured the industry into an oligopoly and customers have to come to you to buy an essential product.
What does it take to be a Customer Experience leader?
If there is one thing I am clear on it is this, one cannot become a customer experience leader by bolting on customer experience trinkets to the existing way of being-doing. This is about as effective as taking a frigate, adding bits and piece of a fighter plane (say wings), and expecting the frigate to be a great fighter plane. That is just stupid. Most of us can see this stupidity when it comes to warships and fighter places. When it comes to organisations, it is amazing how few see the stupidity of taking this route. What does the Nunwood report say?
Culture and climate are the foundation stone of great experiences. Experiences are delivered through people, the above companies are focusing on creating a culture and climate that starts with meeting all of the customer’s needs, emotional, rational and transactional and then replicating across channels.
Customer experience has many moving parts the key is an integrated approach across a business. It demands an intense focus over the long term. It has to be kept on everyone’s daily agenda.
This requires customer experience to be woven into the fabric of the company, reward, performance management and planning.
Enough for today. In the next post, I will take a more detailed look at some of the more interesting brands in the Top 100. Until then I wish you the very best.