NPS® Isn’t Right for Renewals. But Feedback Is.

Same old ThinkingFor many different reasons, one thing I can conclude about working in customer experience measurement: Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) is a polarizing topic. You either love it or you hate it.
And my thought is always this, “If you’re using NPS to get a score, then it is just a survey and only benefits the company, not the customer.” This will not be of any use to a renewals or customer success team.

But most B2B companies do it wrong. Without a feedback program, NPS is exactly what is says in the (original) name: a score. It’s not a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). But asking additional questions about the customer relationship, experience with different touchpoints in the journey, and closing the loop to find out more: now you’re building a feedback program.

Connecting this to renewals: the data that comes from a feedback initiative (like, whether a Decision Maker thinks you are Easy to Do Business with, but lacking in Implementation) holds so much more value than a stand alone NPS. That score is just the beginning indicator for success.

3 Reasons Customer Success/Renewals May Resist Feedback – and Why I Think they’re BS:

1.    We have a low churn rate. Ok, so is your product just so spectacular that you don’t need to innovate through customer insights? Or are your customers trapped into your product because it’s so ingrained in the company, it’s literally hard to leave? Just because your customers don’t churn at a high rate, doesn’t mean you don’t have some Detractors out there, bad mouthing your product. You may be able to keep an account’s business, but that same account may be ruining your prospect’s plans to hire you. Wouldn’t it be good to know who those disgruntled people are and prove it to them you care?

2.    We look at product adoption for our main indicator of success. Are Decision Makers actively using your product? They may not be logging in…so that logic is flawed right there. Also, just because someone logs in and clicks around, doesn’t mean they are seeing the value of your product, either. Having a feedback program would provide the added contextual layer of how each person within an account is reaching their goals with your product.

3.    Feedback doesn’t scale. Most companies lack the resources to physically call every customer and discuss the individual responses. That level of 1-to-1 engagement for everyone doesn’t scale. But with all the automation and marketing technologies at our disposal, certainly an email to all your customers explaining the results of your feedback research can be done easily enough. It’s your decision on which people you want to follow-up with and directly discuss the results with – Tier 1 or Strategic Accounts, customer with extremely low marks, or Silent accounts where no one responded. You want a leading indicator for churn? Bingo.

3 Reasons Why Feedback Directly Benefits Renewals and Customer Success Teams:

1.    B2B Customers aren’t 1 person – Lots of CS and renewals teams interact mainly with one or two people within an account. That’s all fine for the day-to-day tasks of engaging with customers and getting them to participate in events or sign a contract, but when it comes to gauging the customer’s success: you may be missing input from a lot more people. A proper feedback program invites everyone within the account to give their insights and opinions on various touchpoints of the relationship. The result is a rich collection of data that represents the customer in full and can actually form KPI’s for success and satisfaction.

2.    Direct evidence from the source – Suggestions on how to improve the customer experience hold more weight when they come from customers. Period. As a CSM or RM, you need to advocate for the customer to other departments. The best way to do that is with evidence that more than 1 customer feels the same way and perhaps should become a priority. Rather than only discussing issues with customers on the phone, identifying trends as they appear, or sending one-off items to other departments – who are probably going to say, “That’s not my priority right now” – digital feedback data holds this very evidence in one fell swoop. It’s much more likely to resonate with executives and is a more cost efficient way to collect the information.

3.    Knowledge transfer – If an account manager has a great relationship with a customer, awesome. But what happens when that Account Manager leaves? Or if you are able to hire more people and expand the team, how will you get them acquainted with the history of the account? The next person is going to have to get caught up to speed and reestablish that connection no matter what. Why put it on the customer to have to explain all the ins-and-outs? A CRM may have notes on different Support tickets or interactions, but those notes are only as good as the data input by a busy individual who isn’t necessarily thinking of how the info will be used later, by another person. With an online feedback program, the account contact has a lot more historical information – from the customer’s perspective – on how the customer has progressed and what individuals think about different touchpoints of the business. This information sets up a new CSM or RM for a confident, smooth first interaction and extends a positive customer experience.

All in all, I understand the push back on relying on NPS for customer success and renewals. But that’s only because most companies are using the data for themselves and not thinking how it can benefit the customer relationship. By focusing on building a program where feedback is one ingredient in the whole recipe for managing success, B2B teams can leverage so much more than just a score.

Sabrina Bozek is the Director of Marketing for Waypoint Group, a B2B customer experience consulting firm.

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