An actionable approach to customer experience improvement

“On a scale of zero to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend [X Company] to a friend or colleague?” This is a familiar question that you have probably answered or your company has asked. Customer responses define your company’s Net Promoter Score, which is widely regarded as the best way to gauge customer loyalty.

Although the NPS framework asks a fairly simple question, knowing how to translate the responses into timely and meaningful improvements to the customer experience is not as straightforward. Time and again, we have seen many of our clients struggle with how to best improve NPS to make a material impact on their business.

Our clients typically face three challenges as they strive to drive improvement:

  • The NPS data alone is so simple it is hard to interpret where to focus. Especially for large brands with multiple experiences, customers are only asked to give one single number.
  • Even if our clients are gathering additional data, the data lives in silos and it’s hard to know why customers responded the way they did.
  • Even if our clients can figure out why, NPS doesn’t tell them what to do next.

Kristina Heney, former CMO of Cirque du Soleil, faced all three of these challenges in her time at the entertainment company. “Cirque du Soleil regularly receives a very high NPS score, because customers remember the show and how much they enjoyed it,” she says. “But is that the only thing that keeps them coming back? No. In fact, the most significant driver in deciding to come back is actually the customer experience that surrounds the show. It’s also the cleanliness of the bathrooms. It’s also the ease of getting in and out of the parking lot. The real life friction points have a huge impact on the overall experience and can be improved through actionable KPIs.” Now imagine this journey of valuable customer moments not just across physical, but also digital touchpoints.

It’s time to connect the dots. NPS has always been an important indicator of customer sentiment, but it is no longer enough. To enrich NPS, you need to connect it with other data sets, in what we call a “Connected NPS” approach. In line with your digital maturity roadmap, you can use a Connected NPS approach to improve your customer perception, trust, advocacy, adoption and retention. Here’s how it works:

  1. Determine the right KPIs. Conduct an ecosystem and metrics analysis to help set the right KPIs at moments that matter. The same metrics used to analyze one feature may not be applicable for another feature. Metrics differ with context, and measuring the right metric is critical for an accurate assessment of performance.
  2. Identify targeted opportunities for improvement. Use customer segmentation and product experience deep dives to identify specific areas where you want to see your customer experience ratings improve. Experience isn’t one size fits all. The key to unlocking NPS is therefore identifying and understanding each customer segment. If you know what drives value for each group, you can optimize for individuals.
  3. Translate these opportunities into solutions. Once your company understands NPS and the drivers of it, it’s time to take action. Leverage design and technology expertise to define product requirements and translate opportunities into solutions. The first step towards solutioning, fixing and innovating for NPS is to evolve and align upon the product vision — and then define a roadmap of features to get there.

The popular maxim by Bernadette Jiwa, “Whoever gets closest to the customer wins,” has been proven right by businesses like Amazon, Netflix and Slack. When you give a star rating after your Uber ride, your Amazon package delivery, your Airbnb stay or your Netflix movie, these companies know how you feel about their products, at micro-moments and over time. They then enrich this data with behavioral usage analytics to paint a more complete picture of your unmet needs and expectations from their product. With lockdown-led acceleration to digitization, many more disruptors are about to follow. In an age of automated updates, where new features are delivered to you even before you realize you need them, the future of customer loyalty looks quite different.

To compete with digital native companies like these, your company can use the Connected NPS approach. By enriching your customer sentiment data with product and service behavioral data, as well as financial performance data, you can build a complete picture of what your customer is feeling, thinking and doing, what their drivers are, and how this impacts your bottom line. With this knowledge, you can:

  • Empower your front-line employees to act in a way that increases customer value by putting customer-centric decision making in the hands of your product managers, engineers, sales, customer service and support staff.
  • Build a data-centric organization that is able to maintain a pulse on the emerging market trends and the evolving customer expectations, so that you can predict change sooner and innovate faster.
  • Invest in the right technologies and strategic business initiatives in an informed way that ensures not only that your investments pay off but that the benefits reach your end users as soon as possible.

The number of customer touchpoints is ever expanding, as is the volume, frequency and variety of customer data. To survive in this data-rich world, we need to do more than mine it. We need to connect the dots. Everywhere and anywhere across customer touchpoints, there are ways to optimize that add up to a big difference, one percent at a time. The Connected NPS approach can not only help you increase customer loyalty, but also accelerate your product innovation cycle, refocus your operations and eventually inform your entire business model.

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This article was written by Priyanka Gaitonde with contributions from Adriana Coppola. Edited by Erin Peace. Illustration by Kyle Goodrich .