Satisfied Customers are Like Runaway Brides

In the movie Runaway Bride, Julia Roberts plays a spirited and attractive young woman who’s afraid of being married. She’s left a trail of boyfriends whom she says she loves. Indeed, she’s left three men waiting for her in church on their wedding day (all of which are caught on tape), receiving tabloid fame and the dubious nickname “Runaway Bride.”

Satisfied customers are like Runaway Brides. Many say they love you, yet time and time again, they fire you. This all proves the worthlessness of Customer Satisfaction surveys, or more precisely, asking the customer how “satisfied” they are.

So what do you do?

Several years back Bain & Company introduced the Net Promoter Score, asking:”How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? Despite its popularity among business executives, there is no scientific evidence that the “likelihood to recommend” question is any better a predictor of business growth compared to other customer loyalty questions (e.g., overall satisfaction, likelihood to purchase again). There has got to be a better way, and there is.

Tim O'Connor

Tim O’Connor

It’s the Net Best Value™ score. I initially created this approach when I was at the Kellogg School of Management, then refined it when I was at a Bain Capital Company and then finalized it while at Zyman Group. I used it at small and large companies, including 4 different billion dollar businesses, and each time the results produced the highest correlation to actual net change in customer purchases when tracked over time; in the case of my studies over 6 months (and in business today looking at the next quarter or two is critical).

The approach is simple. On a 5 point scale (1 being Highly Agree and 5 being Highly Disagree) you ask for the customer’s agreement with the following statement: “X company offers the best value (what you get minus what you pay) in the industry”. You then add up the percentage of 1’s, ignore the 2’s, subtract the percentage of the 3’s, subtract 2 times the percentage of 4’s, and subtract 4 times the percentage of 5’s. The 4’s and 5’s are weighted more heavily since these customers are more likely to bolt to another supplier.

Net Best Value™ score works for two reasons. First it’s related to the fundamental reason why someone buys a product, that is its net value delivered to the purchaser; whereas you can be satisfied with a product but not think it offers the best value so next time you may buy elsewhere. And second it is a real time, now question; where as “likely” questions such as Net Promoter are asking the customer to predict future intent and we all know the huge flaw in that type of questioning.

So next time you’re wondering if your Bride, Groom or Customer, will be leaving you high and dry at the altar, ask them how much they agree that “I offer the best value in the (fill in the blank)?”

And a word to the wise. If your future spouse doesn’t say they Highly Agree…well run away before it’s too late!

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O’Connor is co-Founder of UCHARYA, an analytical driven marketing consulting firm to startups, private equity owned enterprises and international giants looking to leverage analytics to drive marketing returns. Tim brings speed, clarity and impact to the companies he helps which have included startups backed by The Facebook Founders Fund, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bain Capital and Sterling Partners owned private equity companies, and international giants P&G, Honeywell and Siemens.

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