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What separates NPS leaders and laggards in the UK?

In the 2019 Bain & Co UK Consumer Study, tech brands scored an average NPS of 33. Comparatively, the logistics industry average score was -13. What's creating such a vast chasm between the UK's best and worst scorers? 

28th Oct 2019
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Such is the fight for home delivery dominance that, in the US, Walmart recently announced an ‘InHome’ service.

For those not content with merely having shopping brought to the front door, the American supermarket giant is now offering to enter your house, unpack your groceries and put the food in your fridge for you. Whether you’re home or not.   

Logistics headache

In the UK, the home delivery battleground is becoming equally emulous, with speed of delivery the chief concern. According to PwC research last year, UK consumers are the most impatient in Europe, with 40% of online shoppers willing to pay an extra charge to secure a same day delivery.

Whilst the UK grocery industry is able to pander to these needs in a similar mode to Walmart in the US (Tesco and Sainsbury’s now offer 30 min – 1 hour delivery in some central city locations, for instance); when it comes to the use of third-party logistics and delivery companies, meeting the demand is proving a challenge.

This is reflected in the NPS scores of top brands, highlighted in the latest UK Consumer Study from Bain & Co and MaritzCX.

The study, which reveals the leaders and laggards for Net Promoter Score (NPS) in the UK, found the logistics sector languishing in a heap at the bottom of the pile.

NPS score

Stanford Swinton, a partner at Bain & Company and co-author of the annual consumer study, believes the stark perception of brands in the sector is indicative of just how much logistics companies have to promise to their customers, in order to appease their impatience and demand.

“The reality is, customer expectations of logistics companies are higher than the industry standards today,” Swinton states. “The customer expectations for what logistics should be like are being set by – for example – ride hail companies and those food delivery firms that use technology to give customers more control and full transparency of the ‘off stage’ experience. 

“The leaders in logistics today still provide uncertain delivery windows and leave paper reminders to pick up packages and that just is not good enough for customers.”

It’s no coincidence that whilst logistics companies sit at the bottom of the industry NPS table in the UK, it is technology firms that sit at the top.

The logistics sector is busy blaming Brexit and an impending recession for some of its failures, but Swinton believes there’s also something more fundamental about what is creating such a chasm between the leaders and laggards, in terms of NPS scores.

“Every brand in the top 10% has its own recipe for success, but there are several common ingredients – they are known for something distinctive, for example product quality or channel experience, they create a culture that handles customer complaints well rather than just avoiding complaints, and they measure and deliver great customer experience one customer journey at a time.

“Equally, low performing brands are not systematically identifying which customer are unhappy and designing products and experiences that meet their needs better than competitors.  These brands also miss the opportunity to actively manage customer perception by telling customers about the positive functional aspects of their brand – for example if they have a good price point.”

Create a culture that handles customer complaints well rather than just avoiding complaints

Complaint volume

If complaint handling is a key differentiator between positive and negative NPS scores, it is easy to feel sympathetic towards businesses in the logistics sector.

Back in 2017, consumer help website Resolver said complaints against delivery companies had risen 48% in the last year, as the collective national thirst for online shopping increased dramatically.

One particular company at the sharp end of the consumers’ wrath – Yodel – announced it was investing heavily in its customer service operations to cope with the sudden rise. Not long afterwards, Yodel was rated the worst-performing delivery firm in a survey by website Moneysavingexpert, with 57% of those questioned describing their experience as poor.

Swinton believes many companies are failing to see that investing in speed of response to deal with increases in complaint volume is not the right approach, and that there needs to be a greater collective focus on complaint resolution, if businesses wish to join the elite band of NPS ‘leaders’ in Bain & Co’s annual survey.

“Successful complaint handling has a much higher correlation to overall brand NPS than number of complaints per customer for any given brand.  To be able to resolve complaints well, a brand needs to understand the drivers of complaints, be able to actively use data on what went wrong with a customer and how well they will react to different policies to recover them, and have a strong frontline to handle issues and support self-service. 

“These are all the same capabilities required to deliver great customer experience in other customer journeys.  When a company handles a customer complaint well, the NPS of that customer will often be as strong or stronger than as if the complaint never happened.”

NPS

For UK logistics companies, it may be that shifting the complaint handling focus away from speed of response and focusing on speed of resolution may be the quickest route to turning negative NPS scores around.

And similarly, we may see a change in focus across other areas of the operation as a result – perhaps a shift away from speed of delivery, for instance, to approaches such as Walmart’s InHome announcement, in the US.   

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