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?
You are most effective when you act out of essential human values. When you behave with integrity, you use the challenges in your life to express your higher self. You might not always achieve success, but you can always behave honourably……
Essential integrity allow you to develop strength, inner peace, and self confidence. It acts like a climbing harness, catching you when the challenges of the world prove too arduous. When you trust this harness, you feel more enthusiasm and less fear during the climb.
Essential integrity provides the secret to achieving happiness in a world where you will inevitably end up losing all your possessions – even your life and the lives of those you love.
- Fred Kofman, Conscious Business
I say that essential integrity is also the access to living the brand promise, treating employees and customer right, and cultivating enduring-meaningful relationships with all stakeholders including customers. Think Amazon. What does Amazon do amazingly well? Live the Amazon mission (of being the Earth’s most customer-centric company) by keeping its promises to its customers.
I thank you for listening to my speaking. I am grateful that you exist and that in your listening my speaking finds fertile soil. I thank you for reaching out to me and letting me know that my speaking, my existence makes a difference to your existence. What is present between me and you is love.
I recently read Setting The Table by Danny Meyer. This book shows up for me as inspiring, useful and entertaining. In this post I want to share with you a few passages from this book and my thoughts on these passages. In the process I question the value-power of Customer Experience.
What gave rise to Danny’s way of showing up in the world?
In France we usually stayed in low-key, family run inns where the welcome felt loving and the gastronomy was exceptional. Those trips left a lasting impression. The hug that came with the food made it taste even better! That realisation would gradually evolve into my own well-define business strategy……..
Take a look at your business, your organisation and ask yourself whether your welcome occurs as loving and your ‘product’ as exceptional as experienced by your customers. How did you fare? I say many, if not most organisations, have huge room for improvement here.
Does genuine customer-centricity lie at the heart of Danny Meyer’s business strategy?
The heart of Danny Meyer’s business strategy is being on the customers’ side. Here is how he puts it:
Hospitality is the foundation of my business philosophy. Virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction. Hospitality exists when you believe the other person is on your side……. Hospitality is present when something happens for your. It is absent when something happens to you. Those two simple prepositions for and to - express it all.
I invite you to take a look at the policies and practices of your organisation and assess how your organisation rates on the for and to dimensions. If your organisation is like the multitude of organisations you are likely to find that your organisation is not hospitable. Put differently, you are likely to find many instance of to and few of for if you look at your organisation through your customers’ eyes.
Is there power in distinguishing between hospitality and service?
When we make new distinctions new worlds of possibility open up for us. Danny Meyer has generated such a distinction and living it has been the source of his success.
Understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been the foundation of our success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of the product makes its recipients feel…… To be on a guest’s side requires listening to that person with every sense, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.
My question for you is this, has your organisation invented new distinctions that open up new possibilities? Or are you stuck in the taken for granted and common distinctions of your industry? I say that everything starts with inventing new distinctions. Lets take the area of customer service. What happens when you invention the distinction ‘customer love’ and contrast it with ‘customer service’? Notice ‘customer love’ cannot be collapsed into ‘customer service’. Why? Something new-fresh is born with ‘customer love’. The distinction ‘customer love’ calls forth a very different way of being-showing up in the world to ‘customer service’.
Incidentally, I say that there is no power, no vitality, no freshness, and no possibility in the distinction ‘Customer Experience’. This distinction has been made empty and meaningless by the way that it has been embraced. I’ll let you chew on that and get back to me if you disagree.
Do most businesses delivery plenty of light but no warmth?
I love the way that Danny Meyer uses concrete metaphors to make instructive points. Here is one that is particularly valuable and in line with the lamentations of Colin Shaw:
Imagine if every business were a lightbulb and that for each lightbulb the primary goal was to attract the most moths possible. Now what if you learned that 49% of the reason moths were attracted to the bulb was for the quality of its light (brightness being the task of the bulb) and that 51% of the attraction was to the warmth projected by the bulb (heat being connected with the feeling of the bulb).
Its remarkable to me how many businesses shine brightly when it comes to acing the tasks but emanate all the warmth of a cool fluorescent light. That explains how a flawless four-star restaurant can actually attract far fewer loyal fans than a two or three star place with soul.
How does your organisation fare on the light-warmth scale? And in your Customer Experience efforts are your business cases and people focussed on improving the light or the warmth? From what I have seen, and what Colin says, it occurs to me that the bulk of Customer Experience efforts are focussed on the light.
Does your organisation lack soul?
It occurs to me that the distinction ‘with soul’ is worth savouring. I invite you to ask yourself how many businesses show up in your experience as showing up ‘with soul’? When was the last time you experienced a product ‘with soul’? Or the last time you were served ‘with soul’? What about the last time you came across marketing literature ‘with soul’? When was the last time you came across a salesperson ‘with soul’?
I say that most workplaces and most brands lack soul. And the challenge is for these organisations to put soul back into workplaces and brands. It occurs to me that even that is not enough. It occurs to me that the true challenge is for us to show up ‘with soul’ each and every day and collectively put soul back into the game of business. What do you say?
What is the word that best describes or points out the fundamental context/orientation that underpins business as usual? It occurs to me that the word is “taking”. Taking as much as possible from the customers. Taking as much as possible from employees. Taking as much as possible from suppliers, Taking as much as possible from the community. Taking as much as possible from the planet…..
From the context of taking you get personalised emails and direct mail that does not show up as personal. From this context of taking you get the incessant focus on replacing human customer service with self-service and the switch from skilled staff to unskilled and cheaper staff. From this context of taking you get the focus on upselling, x-selling, and increasing wallet share.
I have yet to find any meaningful and enduring relationships that are based on taking. Where the context of taking is present all that shows up is taking. And people coming up with ways of protecting themselves from being taken. This is not the case for giving.
Where actions flow from a context of giving then it is possible to arrive at symbiotic relationships. Symbiotic relationships are ones where each party brings something of value to the other such that both benefit. It occurs to me that the strongest relationships tend to be symbiotic. Symbiotic relationships start with one party giving – giving something of genuine value to the other party.
Why are so many companies struggling to generate meaningful-enduring relationships with their customers despite their investments in all kind of customer stuff? Why is it that a genuine shift towards a customer centred orientation is so difficult? I say it is difficult because all this effort and investment arises from a context of taking. Whilst this may not be obvious to the people in the company it is obvious to customers – our bodies can tell the difference between those who care for us and those who do not.
Allow me to share an example two example with you. Examples that will illustrate the difference between taking and giving. Let’s start by looking at the taking orientation.
This week I brought a training course. To make the sale happen the supplier offered a 10% discount amounting to £100 and threw in some extras. Given that it is summer and there is less demand for the course it makes perfect sense for the supplier. And it showed up as an attractive discount for me given that I was going to buy the course with or without the discount. Did this discount build any gratitude, any relationship, any loyalty? No. I am clear that the discount served the needs and interests of the supplier.
Are there any companies that excel at giving? It occurs to me that giffgaff, a mobile network provider, is one such company. Earlier this month I got a email from giffgaff letting me know that the best tariff for me was the £7.50 tariff. By providing me this information giffgaff gave me the choice of switching from the £10 tariff. I didn’t switch tariffs. Nonetheless, I am delighted with giffgaff – I am delighted that giffgaff is practicing what it preaches, that the folks at giffgaff are living their values.
Let’s take a moment to look at my experience upon receiving the email. First, surprise. Second, delight. Third, gratitude. Fourth, satisfaction in having chosen giffgaff. Fifth, loyalty validated and cemented. Sixth – advocacy as in writing this post. Put differently, giving by giffgaff has called forth giving by me. I should point out that it is not just me. My wife has been telling a similar story to her circle of friends and colleagues.
The lesson? I say genuine-meaningful-enduring relationships are built upon mutual giving. I say you cannot build such relationships from a context of taking – the context that underpins business as usual. I say that as human beings we are always on the lookout for people and organisations that are trustworthy and on our side – looking after our best interest.
It occurs to me that if the people in companies pursuing customer experience, customer-centricity, even customer obsession, were to focus on giving and not clever ways of taking then they would have more success in fostering customers who are genuinely loyal.
What do you say?
How companies respond to moments of truth says all there is to say about the company and its orientation towards customers. This is where the talk of customer focus, customer experience, and customer-centricity is actually put to the test by the customer. I have done some work in the telecommunications industry and I can tell you that device or service failure shows up as a moment of truth for many customers. When the customer relies on his phone and it no longer works that is a big deal for her. When the customer relied on his broadband connection and it fails that is big deal for him. Correct?
Yesterday, my broadband connection failed and stayed that way for several hours. I searched through the Sky paperwork to find a customer services number. I didn’t find any as Sky have made a conscious choice not to print that number on their invoices/statements. Instead, the paperwork only shows the URL for the support section of the Sky website. That would have been useful if and only if my broadband was working!
Thankfully, I had a smartphone and Google handy. So within a few minutes I found a contact number and called Sky. A couple of minutes after this I was speaking to friendly woman at Sky. After 10 – 20 minutes on the phone, answering her questions and following her instructions, she told me that the broadband router was faulty. I was grateful to her as she had been patient and left me with the impression that she was committed to helping me out.
What was my expectation at this point given that I have been a customer for at least two years? I was expecting the woman to say “I will send you a new router and it will be with you tomorrow morning. And, I’m sorry that our router failed and you are without broadband.” That kind of response would have shown up as customer-centric. That kind of response would have generated forgiveness on the one hand and gratitude on the other hand. That kind of response would have left me feeling good about being a Sky customer. That kind of response would have resulted in a different ending to the post.
What actually happened? The woman from Sky told me that I would have to pay £35 for a new router. Why? Because I was no longer on a twelve month contract. Or I could sign another twelve month contract.
This was the first time that I considered cancelling the Sky broadband service. Why? Because I was offended. Because it occurred as Sky taking advantage of me when I was down. Because, I asked myself “Where is the loyalty for me sticking with Sky for over two years?” I calmed myself down and made the choice to enter into a new twelve month agreement.
Once we had come to this agreement, the woman from Sky told me that the router would be delivered within 3 to 5 days. I was shocked. So I blurted out something like “Is there any way you can get this out to me tomorrow? Amazon does this. Surely, you can do the same.” She asked me to hold whilst she looked into it. After looking into it she told me that the best response Sky could offer was 3 – 5 days. And that she would ring me no Saturday to make sure that my issue was solved. I thanked her and ended the call.
What is the lesson here? It doesn’t matter how great the people in your call-centres are if your business policies , practices, and processes are not designed to deliver on the customer needs at the moments of truth.
As I reflect on this experience I cannot help but compare how Apple showed up when my daughter had a problem with her iPod.