By Dylan Kohlstadt
When it comes to running a business, ‘nice’ is not a word that I throw around very often.
So when I say ‘being nice can grow your business’ I’m not being flippant or insincere. When I say ‘be nice’, you should sit up and take notice, because this perspective could be what will turn a good year into a great one.
Service or Relationships?
Let’s face it: customer service is a foregone conclusion nowadays and will not set you apart from the pack.
Your business can rise above the rest when it shifts its focus from basic service and a good product, to relationship-building. By that I mean good, old-fashioned sincerity, mixed with genuine ‘niceness’ to your customers. That requires listening, responding, and taking what your customers have to say about their experience with your brand seriously.
How do we know if we’re nice or not? “Of course I’m nice. I’m the nicest person I know,” you might say. But as with everything important, if you can’t measure it, you cannot make it an achievable goal. Thankfully, there is a ‘nice barometer’ and it’s called NPS.
For those of you who don’t know, NPS does not stand for Nebraska Postal Services, but rather the all-important Net Promoter Score.
What is NPS?
“How willing are you to recommend this company to someone else?”
That, quite simply, is NPS. You could pretty much close this article and walk away now, as almost everything there is to know about NPS comes from that one seemingly simple question.
Your Net Promoter Score is the difference between how many of your customers are willing to promote you against those who are actually damaging your brand.
What is a Good NPS?
I had an experience recently that explains this perfectly. To set the scene, let me introduce the three stars in this saga:
- Detractor – unhappy and brooding, with a penchant for revenge.
- Promoter – loving and loyal, always ready with a kind word and full of rah-rah!
- Passive – ‘meh’ describes this persona best.
So here’s what happened. I bought a pair of expensive leather boots from a proudly South African company recently. They were comfortable and stylish, but aside from that I never felt a real connection to the brand, and I had other leather boots that I switched them up with (Passive ‘meh’).
The next Winter came and I wore my boots again, except – without warning and for no apparent reason – one of the soles split open completely.
I reached out to the customer service people for assistance and the rather vanilla response I got was, ‘courier it to us and we’ll replace the sole.’ Since it wasn’t my fault that the sole split, I felt it unfair of them to expect me to carry the burden of the courier expense. After sharing this with the customer care person several times, with no apparent effect, I became livid and actively started attacking their brand on social media (Detractor ‘revenge’). I even created a “Why I hate XYZ” board on Pinterest. It wasn’t pretty.
Within days the social media manager (obviously with more authority to act than the unfortunate customer care person) contacted me and swiftly took care of my courier needs, which made me feel moderately happy again (Passive).
Then, to my surprise and delight, they sent me an additional pair of brand new boots by way of apology. I was ecstatic. Now I sing their praises every time I talk about boots, and tell all my friends about them (Promoter – rah-rah).
What set this company apart from the rest was their recognition that customer relations, not just customer service, is the new standard.
NPS measures the detractors from the promoters, and the only way to create and keep a promoter is through active, empowered client relations.
- Are you responding to the feedback you’re getting from your customers?
- Are you building relationships through conversations?
- Has your frontline team been empowered to make decisions that will improve and restore client relationships?
The power of NPS is in its simplicity, but for it to be really meaningful, management needs to allocate authority to respond appropriately to its findings.
NPS and Growth:
Studies by the Harvard Business Review reveal that companies make more money when their Net Promoter Score improves. This stands to reason, as a happy customer is a returning customer.
Case in point: a cellular company in South Africa recently advertised that they would spend up to R10,000 to buy out a new client’s contract. I was one of their old unhappy clients (emphasis on ‘was’). I guarantee you it would have cost them far less than R10,000 to convert me from a Detractor to a Promoter and enjoy a lifetime of my loyalty and hefty business contract.
If they took the time to discover the ‘why’ behind my unhappiness, with a bit of creativity and insight, retaining me would have cost a fraction of their current Cost of Acquisition. For growth in 2016 it is of the utmost importance for a business’s leadership to investigate the “whys” behind the data, and to adapt and evolve accordingly.
You don’t need to be a multi-national listed corporation to measure NPS. If you have more than two customers, then you need to know whether they are promoters, detractors or passive so that you can understand where your core issues lie.
For a deeper look into your customer’s wellbeing it might be worthwhile to reach out to a brand experience and customer journey expert.
If your NPS is better than your competitors’, you will likely outperform the market.
About Dylan Kohlstadt
Dylan is the founder and CEO of Shift ONE – a digital and marketing agency in Cape Town. Dylan is an online and marketing expert who is passionate about growing her clients’ businesses. Dylan has 20 years marketing management experience in online, insurance, financial, gaming and property industries involving web, mobile, SEO, CRM and Social Marketing and is considered a subject matter expert on all things digital.