Not all companies use a formal customer feedback mechanism like the Net Promoter Score* (NPS).  Whether your company uses feedback to improve broken processes or as a way to bring innovative products to market, soliciting and responding to customer feedback is an integral part of successful companies.  A recent Bruce Temkin post serves as a poignant reminder that, asked or not, your customers do evaluate your performance.

For those reluctant to employ NPS, here are some common objections and ways to address:

  • We Tried It Before – To me this excuse is like blaming Atkins or any other diet for weight loss failures.  Trying is a start but doing is the key.  This is why Nike’s tag line is not “Just Try It” and why the sage Yoda says, “Do or do not… there is no try.”

  • Too Simplistic – NPS summarizes a complicated relationship with a single number.  Its strength of simplicity may be its undoing for companies that get bogged down in details.  In B-to-C companies the NPS question is easier to justify since the purchaser is the influencer, buyer, and user.  B-to-B companies have to know more about the role their target audience plays.  For example a ‘user’ who promotes your product may be less influential than a ‘purchaser’ who promotes your company.  Don’t miss the value in honest feedback even if it means you must ask more questions.
  • We Already Know What Our Customers Think – Whether from great hubris, naiveté, or incompetence, some companies have convinced themselves that they already know what is broken in their company and therefore neglect to get feedback.  This view may in fact be true but it minimizes the value customers place on being asked.  I am convinced that this cop out communicates a darker reality “our company does not care what customers think and/or we are unprepared to respond with actions.”
  • NPS is for Consumer Businesses – It is true that the NPS economic models are easier to apply to consumer businesses.  By asking consumers whether their purchase decision was based on a recommendation, companies can quantify the economic value of a promoter and the economic cost of a detractor.  However, promoter/detractor conclusions are just as valuable for Enterprise Businesses and perhaps more lucrative.  What would happen to your sales growth if Warren Buffett recommended its products?
  • Our Customers (Already) Love Us – Hopefully this is true.  If it is, NPS can help provide a powerful framework for understanding the value of moving customers on the margin (passives) into the promoter realm.  (An HBR article by Bill Lee can be found here.)  Once a company understands the value they can make informed (and targeted) decisions about investments.

These objections, posing as reasons, mask the pivot point which is that asking for feedback, acting on it, and claiming credit for your responsiveness is important.  Shouldn’t your company be part of the conversation?

*Note: Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld

NPS: Do or do not… there is no try
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