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VIRTUAL ROUNDTABLE: How to turn CSAT into powerful insight


As MyCustomer prepares to host a virtual roundtable event on the topic of gleaning insight from customer scores, we establish what benefit NPS, CSAT and other metrics bring to businesses.

17th Nov 2020
In association with

According to a near-infamous Wall Street Journal article published last May, 2018 and 2019 were unprecedented years for the adoption of customer scores – notably NPS – as success metrics among big brands.

Indeed, as the article specifies, net promoter and NPS were referenced more than four times more in earnings calls by 50 S&P 500 companies than five years previous.   

“Much of Corporate America is obsessed with its net promoter score, or NPS, a measure of customer satisfaction that has developed a cultlike following among CEOs in recent years,” the authors Khadeeja Safdar and Inti Pacheco explain.

“Unlike profits or sales, which are measured and audited, NPS is usually calculated from a one question survey that companies often administer themselves…Executives pointed to strong or rising NPS as proof that shoppers preferred to pick up orders at Target Corp. stores or that Google’s newest Pixel smartphone was off to a good start. Out of all the mentions the Journal tracked on earnings calls, no executive has ever said the score declined.”

Whilst coronavirus has upended what most brands acknowledge as customer experience success in 2020, data continues to point towards NPS being a favoured metric among big brands. Yet, given the damning review from WSJ and numerous other credible sources in recent years, why does this remain the case?

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“Customer scores are simple, point-in-time measures, that are easy to communicate, whether it’s in a news report or a board report,” explains Rob Lancashire, CEO of feedback management company, Opinyin. “They are, however, one dimensional in the same way as the numbers on the profit & loss report. Like the financials, they don’t tell you why unless they come with some explanation, therefore, to rely on them to say that all is good with the world is potentially false prophecy.

“Simple scoring ranges also create frustrations for those at the coal face, such as simple misunderstanding and psychological biases that mean that they don’t necessarily reflect how someone feels. A good example of this is a criticism of NPS that I have heard is that, to some customers, nothing is worth more than an 8.”

Hotly debated

Rob will be among a panel of experts debating NPS and the benefits of customer scores in an upcoming virtual roundtable event, hosted by MyCustomer, on November 26, 2020. Fellow guests include Marion Escudé, customer success manager for Freshworks and Adrian Swinscoe, author of highly-regarded customer experience leadership books including How to Wow and Punk CX.

Swinscoe himself has previously specified that NPS, CSAT and other customer metrics work when used as a snapshot in time or trying to establish the quality of a single experience or interaction; but too often brands use customer scores as a more holistic representation of how they are performing.

“It becomes more about the metric than about the experience. And so you’re more interested in the number that you get rather than actually what somebody’s experience has been. And that’s wrong, because then it’s a bit like, ‘Oh, I’ve got this tool that I’ve got to figure out where to apply it’. It’s like a spanner. ‘I’ve got a quarter inch spanner, now I need to look for a quarter inch nut’. And it’s like trying to fit things together. It just doesn’t work.”

To some customers, nothing is worth more than a [score of] eight

Looking beyond the score

But whilst the Wall Street Journal’s analysis of NPS highlighted the clear concerns of allowing a single question customer score guide so much of a brand’s focus, it also acknowledged a critical point that often differentiates those brands that are able to use customer scores successfully and those that aren’t – the accompanying, verbatim feedback.

“In securities filings, Delta Air Lines Inc. has said it measures “customer service performance” as the percentage point improvement in its average NPS. The methodology, the company said, was approved by a board committee and its progress is reported periodically to the board. NPS is also listed as a criterion for executive bonuses.

“Carol Campbell, Delta’s managing director of customer experience, said most of her work entails using NPS to find opportunities to make investments. The airline added fresh-baked cookies on trans-Atlantic flights, chose to put nine seats in each Boeing 777 row instead of the standard 10 and made enhancements to its app, because of NPS.”

Whilst authors Khadeeja Safdar and Inti Pacheco WSJ may have been suggesting that NPS was wielding too much power in major organisations, the fact remains that it is the feedback beyond the score that allows companies to understand their customers better and make positive changes to the experiences they offer.

‘Experience is an emotional thing; therefore, we should strive to continually understand our customer's feelings in order to deliver a great experience,” explains Lancashire.  

“If you think of scores as a 'You are here' marker on a map, then understanding the customer feelings behind the score provides the map of roads available to you to get to where you need to be for that customer. ‘

“I struggle to understand why some satisfaction surveys make the feedback box optional. It feels like a waste of highly valuable customer engagement time to ask them something that may end up having little benefit to them personally, especially when you can turn the text feedback into personalised actions that can have an almost immediate result.”

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Virtual roundtable

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