While there are many ways to create positive emotions to fuel brand trust, loyalty, and referrals, customer satisfaction starts with employees first. When employees are genuinely happy, it transfers to customers regardless of industry or location in the world. I know this first hand having worked at Global companies for over 20 years and from interviewing people during my business and personal travels. There are few individuals that stand out from my recent trip as they reinforce what I always say: People make the difference and serve as a brand differentiator.
Over the years, I’ve been speaking and writing about the importance of experiences and Wow Moments to drive happy customers and engaged employees. I am a believer in what Maya Angelou says, “People may not recall WHAT you did or the words you said, but they remember HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL!” Wow Moments create positive emotions that fuel trust, loyalty, and referrals. Continue Reading →
You’ve probably seen signs in restaurants, hotels, and other locations requesting customers for feedback about their experiences. It is common practice more than ever before, even in unusual places like public bathrooms. Focusing on customer experience (CX) and capturing the Voice of Customers (VOC) feedback is smart business. Yet if the execution is not done right, it is wasted effort.
Measuring customer satisfaction and identifying “pain points” for improvement is common practice at nearly all best-in-class companies. While there’s no question about the importance of customer experience (CX) and employee (EX) too, there is a debate about WHICH metric is best and HOW to apply it within organizations. The Wallstreet Journal recently published an interesting article about Net Promoter Score and whether or not it is misleading. I really like the topic and so, I wrote about my own views after reading it. Of all my articles published, this one caused what I call “good commotion.” The section about “Should NPS Scores Be Tied To Employee Bonuses” is controversial, as there are valid reasons for and against it. I’ve summarized feedback from my blog readers so you can form your own opinion. There’s no one right or wrong answer.
6 ADVANTAGES OF LINKING NPS TO EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION:
- Drives employee accountability to deliver customer excellence. Employees at all levels take customer satisfaction more seriously when they have “skin in the game.”
- Creates a customer-obsessed culture. It’s a proven tactic.
- Sends a message to employees that customer loyalty matters. It demonstrates that the company is “walking the CX talk” and not just saying the words in a mission statement.
- Measures customer perceptions in a meaningful way and everyone contributes to it, more than traditional methods like “share of eyeball.” NPS is good for benchmarking purposes too.
- Serves as an employee motivator. Incentives drive behavior.
- Leads to faster employee follow up with customers. Helps drive “closed loop” compliance.
6 REASONS AGAINST It. The flip-side:
- Data can be unreliable. People inevitably learn to influence the numbers and beg for high scores, thereby corrupting the system. It defeats the purpose when employees bribe customers for a high satisfaction rating.
- Employee Satisfaction Matters More. If employees are happy and loyal, then customer satisfaction will inevitably happen.
- Net Promoter Score is too limiting. NPS does not include key drivers of WHY customers will or will not recommend a company.
- Surveys aren’t always administrated fairly. Bias is a concern. There’re companies that don’t police the data or have an impartial client advocate leading the survey process.
- Incentivizing leads employees becoming too concerned with the score. It creates an environment where they focus on the numbers instead of delighting customers.
- Creates an unfriendly work environment when it’s unclear WHO’S responsible for a detractor (and promoter) score. The value of a score and customer comments gets lost in “blame” and “glory” games.
MY Professional PERSPECTIVE:
I have worked in organizations where NPS scores were tied to Executives and my CX teams’ objectives and paychecks. I’ve also been at companies where ALL employees were held accountable for CX metrics. While I understand both sides of the debate, my opinion is that the pros of linking NPS to EVERYONE’S compensation outweigh the cons, with a few considerations.
KEY FACTORS FOR NPS & Employee SUCCESS:
- Company leaders must communicate and educate employees about why and how the NPS score is calculated, so they understand it is a credible metric and trust the process. Employee buy-in goes a long way.
- Reinforce that everyone owns the customer experience (CX) just like other financial results. Keep the drumbeat going so employees put customers first, even when their boss isn’t looking. I recommend including CX topics on every meeting agenda. Celebrate the good scores (promoters) and problem solve (detractors) to reduce churn, as I discuss in my other article: building a customer-centric culture.
- Use a third party or unbiased internal team to conduct surveys across the customer journey to eliminate questions about validity and unfairness.
What are your views about linking employee paychecks to NPS as well as other customer satisfaction metrics? Are you in favor or against it, and why?
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*ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE STACY’S & DO NOT REFLECT VIEWS OR IMPLY ENDORSEMENT OF EMPLOYERS AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.
People often ask me for advice on how to increase their CX skills. They want to understand more about the customer experience field and proven methodologies to differentiate their brands. While I mentor them, I also share additional ways to learn. I’m confident you’ll find value from my list too. (Sorry for any I left out as there are so many inspirational people in the CX field. I’ll add you to my 2020 list.) Continue Reading →
What is company culture? Why is it important? Who owns culture, and how does customer experience play a role? You can hear valuable answers to these questions in an upcoming panel discussion hosted by CXPA. I had the privilege of listening to the recording before it launches on October 1st, otherwise known as CX Day. Impressive speakers including Continue Reading →
Have you heard about Customer Experience / CX Day? It is a real day. I did not make it up. I am passionate about people celebrating everywhere because as my friend Stan Phelps explains in Forbes, “happy loyal customers do not happen without happy engaged employees.” Consequently, I have been leading CX Day festivities over the years and highly recommend you do too. Continue Reading →
Not too long ago, consumers had to drive to a retail store to purchase what they wanted. Customer experience (CX) had a different meaning. The launch of digital apps and websites significantly changed our lives offering more convenience, time savings, expanded product choices, and easier access to offers and promotions. Though there are a lot of advantages to digital shopping, it’s harder for companies to differentiate their brands. Easy ordering and on-time delivery are customary. Free shipping and simple return processes are the norms. When it does not go as expected, then customers get irate, and satisfaction scores decline. So then….
How Do Companies Best Compete In The Digital Age?
The answer is simple, but implementation takes creativity. Brands need to focus on differentiating themselves by providing memorable experiences that remain in peoples’ minds even after a transaction is complete. The following is a personal story that demonstrates my point.
A friend of mine, who knows I love granola, suggested I try a new brand that she thought was amazing. At the time, I could not find a store near me to visit in person but was able to buy on the company’s website. My online purchase experience went smoothly. There was nothing that stood out UNTIL my package arrived. That’s when there was an ELEMENT OF SURPRISE that keeps me talking and referring Kelly’s Four Plus Granola (aside from its great tasting product).
- There was a card enclosed in the box with a message about how I purchased the “freshest Granola possible” and that it is “handmade in small batches in their Norwalk, CT kitchen.” I liked reassurance and felt confident that I made the right choice. But more importantly….
- There was a hand-written thank you note, as you can see below. I was impressed by the fact that management took the time to personalize it to me. It seems mundane, but I noticed and loved it.
The Point of My Customer Experience Story:
The company went up and beyond to make me feel good about my purchase, aside from delivering a great product. As a result, I’ve shared with people on social media and am authentically bragging about the company to you. “Word of mouth” recommendations are a marketers dream and the premise of NPS (Net Promoter Score). I believe every company can apply similar principles regardless of industry.
Customer Experience Lessons:
- Show customers that you value them. Small gestures, like a handwritten note, can go a long way.
- Personalize as much as possible. Just because a transaction is digital does not mean you can’t humanize customer experiences. In fact, it becomes even more important when technology is involved.
- Take advantage of all channels to thank customers. A letter in a fulfillment box is a great tactic, especially if there’s a savings coupon enclosed. Service providers can also provide “Wow Moments” by giving a similar note to customers when visiting them onsite.
- Communication is a sure way to delight customers. Read my other article about 5 Tips To Improve CX and EX.
Kelly’s Four Plus Granola is not the only one to differentiate its brand in a personalized way. Stacy’s Pita Chips is another company that deployed a brilliant marketing and CX strategy. Read my unexpected customer experience story here, which actually ignited my interest in the CX field.
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The smallest gestures by frontline employees can be a significant reason shoppers turn into repeat buyers. I was reminded of this when buying clothing at a department store recently. Upon bringing my items to the register, the nice woman asked questions about my day and overall shopping experience. I was surprised by our first interaction as warm greetings don’t happen frequently enough. Why is that? Saying “hello” and good-bye” is such an easy way to delight customers. I especially love when company owners greet customers. (Read my Woodloch story).
Besides a pleasant dialogue when first meeting, my experience got even better. The lady scanned each item and noticed that none of the clothes I was buying were on sale. She asked me if I had any promotional offers but unfortunately, I did not. She proceeded to explain that customers who have their store credit card receive discounts, and then inquired if I wanted to get one. I kindly declined and was prepared to pay full price for the items. At that moment, the woman went into her drawer and took out a coupon to apply to my purchase. She saved me $25. Although it was not a significant amount of money, it was a highly satisfying moment. I did not expect her to provide me any discount especially since I declined the credit card offer. I thanked the woman twice and told her how much I appreciated my purchase experience ALL BECAUSE OF HER. I walked out of the store a happy customer and continue to be a repeat purchaser.
My personal story provides several customer experience lessons:
- Frontline employees matter. They matter a lot! Businesses need to empower their staff to be brand ambassadors. Managers need to encourage employees to surprise and delight customers even when they are not looking.
- Company leaders need to recognize employees who create exceptional experiences. When employees are happy, customers benefit too. Attitudes are contagious.
- Buyers often care more about EXPERIENCE over PRICE when choosing brands. There’s tons of research to prove this statement. I especially like a report published by CMO. It emphasizes that experiences drive customer loyalty and that addressing customer needs must be FIRST PRIORITY!
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM MERKLE’S RESEARCH STUDY:
- “More than half (52%) of online buyers said they stopped shopping on a brand website due to bad site experiences.” I 100% agree, which is why I’m a big advocate of doing user testing with real customers in pre AND post-launch stages.
- “Word of mouth is the most organic and valuable form of marketing, and it will only increase when customers feel that their experience is worth sharing.” Yes indeed, which is why so many companies rely on the Net Promoter Score (NPS).
- “Customers are looking for long-term, connected experiences that are as EFFICIENT as they are enjoyable.” This is very true, and why I emphasize the importance of including “level of effort” in CX measurement programs. NPS is useful but even more so when combined with other metrics. Read the Wallstreet article and my personal views about this topic.
What is your perspective?
I’m interested in hearing examples of when a company employee went above and beyond to make your buying experience a memorable one. How did you feel? Did you purchase again because of that experience, even when you could buy somewhere else for a better price? Share your views by joining CX conversations on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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