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Measuring customer effort: Is it time we moved on from Net Promoter Score?

15th Jun 2015
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For many years, Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been a core metric for businesses, to quantify and monitor customer satisfaction levels and understand how this affects future behaviour. However, as with any metric the measurement is, by itself, just a means to an end. It is vital that brands are using NPS in the right way in order to deliver the most value to the business.

Ultimately, NPS measures brand loyalty, and is based on the fundamental perspective that every company’s customers can be divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.  The percentage of detractors is then deducted from the percentage of promoters to give the organisation its Net Promoter Score.

Effort equals experience

It is important to remember, in many scenarios, customers end up calling contact centres after failing to get the resolution they seek in-store, online or through other self-service options. This leaves the contact centre staff to face the brunt of the customers’ dissatisfaction, and having to rely on their professionalism, systems and efficiency to allay customer frustrations before turning a challenging situation into a positive experience.

NPS is undoubtedly a useful metric, but by its very nature, leads organisations into focusing their resources on delighting the customer by exceeding their expectations. This message has been emphasised for years: delight the customer and they will become your brand advocate and an asset that will help to secure potential future customers and growth. While this may be true, investing all your resources on creating more promoters could leave you vulnerable to the negative effects detractors can have on your brand.

Recent studies have shown that the impact of promoters and detractors is not equal, suggesting that one promoter will not make up for the damage one detractor can cause. A recent Convergys study found that eight in ten dissatisfied customers told others about their recent interaction, compared with just five in ten extremely satisfied customers. 

With many contact centres now measuring Transactional Net Promoter Score (tNPS), whereby customers are invited to rate their last interaction or transaction and not the whole brand experience, a wealth of valuable data is being captured that can be transformed into actionable insight to pinpoint root causes and drive improvements that will help to minimise the number of detractors.

When customers are asked why they are not satisfied with a recent interaction, the biggest drivers of their dissatisfaction were related to effort: had to repeat myself; had to call multiple times; took too long to resolve, etc. And the majority of top answers to what is important when receiving customer service also relate to customer effort – that is, how easy is it to resolve a question or issue or conduct a transaction using a service channel. This begs the question, are we using the right metrics in order to drive the improvements that will minimise customer effort?

Expectations are rising

This damage that detractors can do to your business is increasing as consumer expectations around customer service continue to rise, making the margin for creating dissatisfied customers larger. The increased use of technology and social media is a key factor. Customers now expect a different type of service and quite often organisations are falling short. In the Convergys survey, 20% of consumers reported that they started on a company’s website, but were dissatisfied and abandoned it, with 38% trying the web again and 23% switching to the phone. When digital deployment is dysfunctional, consumers often switch channels to get resolution, which could increase the number of interactions without reducing effort or improving satisfaction.

This means that service is expected through multiple channels and traditional channels such as the call centre are now being avoided. In fact, 47% of customers say they will do anything to avoid calling a contact centre. People are looking for a seamless service experience and brands that can solve their problems quickly with a minimum of fuss.

The focus for brands should therefore be on ‘closing-the-loop’ and identifying where the root causes of customer dissatisfaction lie. Often, the real drivers of customer effort sit upstream from the agents in poorly optimised self-service channels, policies that make it hard to do business, and siloed technology.  It is important that organisations have the technology and skills to deliver an efficient personalised experience, as this is critical to minimising effort by resolving customer issues as quickly and efficiently as possible in their channel of choice.

Prioritise to maximise ROI

While NPS will remain an essential tool for measuring loyalty, brands should consider how they are allocating resources in order to have the best possible impact on the bottom line. Given the ever-increasing expectation for multichannel communication and the larger influence of the detractor, a smarter approach to NPS might be required.

Delighting customers will always be the ideal, however, with detractors 60% more likely to talk about your brand than promoters, the penalty for not meeting expectations is greater – and is only likely to increase.  Often, the best way to add value to the business will be to focus on minimising customer effort, which should lead to a drop in the number of detractors. Conversely, placing a greater emphasis on the number of detractors will enable you to gauge how well you are achieving this

As brands and customer service teams look to adapt to the new realities of this multichannel world, they must make sure they are factoring these trends into their metrics. After all, as the saying goes, what gets measured gets done!

Cormac Twomey is managing director, EMEA for Convergys

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By raymond mommers
19th Jun 2015 19:13

CEM is measuring one aspect of the service. NPS is measuring all aspects of a service. 

NPS is also influenced my remarks of the people arround a person, the fysical environment (think about the aspects used in shops to delight users), information about services int he media.

Therefore CEM is focussing on one part of NPS in detail. 




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