“With online platforms making it easier and easier for consumers to communicate their opinions of products and services to the whole world, and buyers now relying on candid testimonials of customers’ experience, your clients have the potential to make or break your company.”
says IMD President Dominique Turpin.
For this reason top companies such as Apple and Amazon, rather than just waiting for the good or bad reviews, have proactively used customer feedback to help improve their products and services, and to do this they have employed Net Promoter Scores (NPS) - a management tool that gauges the loyalty of a firm's customer relationships. NPS is a simple tool and it is only by using it as a catalyst to drive strategic change that companies can truly harness the power of their customers.
The Net Promoter Score is taught in several IMD programs, and cases have also been written about it. Furthermore in the spirit of ‘practice what you preach’ IMD has since 2009 employed NPS itself and built on the results to engage its clients and refine its executive program offerings. Critically it has collected scores from participants 6 months after a program, and then again at 12 months, which has enabled it to analyse answers to these questions: Did the program help you become a more effective executive? Were you able to use the content in the workplace? What have you implemented or transferred from the program to the your work environment?
According to John Evans who established the NPS system at IMD, it is not so much the score that matters but the process of proactively communicating with customers and acting on the recommendations. IMD carries out around 200 surveys per year and compiles the collected data in its CRM system. These captured ‘experiences’ then become a valuable resource in helping faculty create and manage future ‘learning journeys’, as well as evaluating the potential impact of the new research trialled at its Discovery events.
Commenting on this initiative Turpin, suggests three commandments companies should follow:
1] Yes, ask the ultimate question. By asking the Net Promoter Score (NPS) question “how likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?” you can find out a great deal about what is working and what could be better at your company. But just don’t rely on just the NPS to harness the power of your customers.
2] Measure all aspects of the impact of what you do. The lesson here is not to use only one measurement. Find out as much and as often as you can from your customers about what you are doing well and how you can improve. Then you won’t be surprised to see their comments online, because you already know what they think.
3] Don’t just measure, engage your customers and improve. It’s a great start to know what clients think about every aspect of your business as well as who you can count on to be your ambassadors. But that’s not enough. You have to act on your findings and fast. Get to work making your products and services better, and make sure to nurture your relationships.
Turpin sums up by saying “One of the most important things about running any business is staying in touch with your clients. This is absolutely crucial. Your brand is not what you think it is, it’s what your customers think it is and what they tell each other. And they have the divine power to determine your company’s success. So be careful or you might fall from their grace.”