Customer satisfaction is a board room concern. What about “customer relationship”?

CSAT-Graphic-for-blog-postWe recently surveyed 200 customer-facing professionals and asked respondents about what three things they perceive drive board and executive level decisions at their company. Answers ranged from revenue and profit to internal politics, corporate social responsibility, and confidence in their ability to deliver. While it was encouraging to see “internal politics” lowest on the list, it was even more encouraging to see “customer satisfaction (including Net Promoter Score)” selected as the third most common response (38%), behind profit (51%) and revenue (42%).

Net Promoter Score (NPS) has generated a fair number of column inches and pixels — and has it’s own share of promoters and distractors. But, I’ve noticed it coming up more and more in conversations with practitioners. I’ve interviewed several customer-facing executives lately who referenced NPS specifically as one of their key corporate metrics. In these firms, NPS is part of their operational model. It impacts every employee’s MBOs and compensation, and serves to rally the whole firm around the customer.

None of the folks that I interviewed described it as a panacea. But, I do notice too many firms use it as an objective rather than a metric — in my opinion the objective should be something along the lines of improving the customer experience or boosting customer loyalty. NPS is just one way to measure the customer’s reaction to that experience. The best description that I’ve heard in recent interviews was from a senior retailer who said “NPS gives us a scorecard/benchmark on where our customer-focused-activity is working and where there’s friction. But, it’s not about relationship building. It’s a scorecard on how well we’re doing something”. If your objective is to build relationships, beware of assuming a high or improving NPS or CSAT score as a proxy for strong or improving relationships. It might be. But, you won’t know unless you look beyond the metric.



P.S. We’ll release a report with additional findings from the survey in the next few days.

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