You may not realize it, but your company has a secret salesforce that could help you generate more leads. And their opinions about your products and services carry more weight than any marketing tactic you’ve got in your back pocket.
Who are these covert salespeople? Your happiest and most loyal customers.
Way back in 2012, Nielsen reported that 92% of people trusted their friends’ opinions about brands more than advertising or influencers. While Nielsen hasn’t released new numbers (yet), there is proof that this hierarchy of trust hasn’t changed:
- A 2018 yougov study in Great Britain revealed that friends (87%) and family (89%) are the most trusted source of truth. But only 18% said they trust people who run large companies.
- HubSpot has recently revealed that friends, family, and Google are the top discovery sources for new products or services.
- As influencers, friends and family members are trusted by 78% of respondents in Canada’s fifth annual Proof CanTrust Index. Only 15% of respondents trust celebrities.
Yep. Those customer delight tactics designed to encourage repeat business also contribute to how customers talk about your company – and how many people they tell.
This raises two questions:
- Who are the people talking positively about you?
- How can you help amplify their voice and turn them into full-blown influencers?
You probably have a general idea of what customers say based on purchase habits, comments made to your sales and customer support staff, and online reviews. But that information is anecdotal and not aggregated.
The best and most efficient way to find out which customers are potential recruits for your army of brand advocates is by calculating your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Understanding the Value of Your Net Promoter Score (NPS)
A Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a benchmark that measures how likely your entire customer base is to recommend your business. It separates customers into three brand affinity categories:
Promoters are loyal customers whose passion for your brand comes across every time they talk to family and friends. These are the droids you’re looking for.
Passives are fence-sitters. They don’t necessarily dislike your brand, but they aren’t jumping up and down about you either. These customers have the most potential to be delighted (hint, hint) or dissatisfied.
Detractors are unhappy customers. They are likely to switch to your competition or, even worse, share their bad experiences with others.
Let’s look at how these categories are used to calculate your NPS.
How to Calculate Your Net Promoter Score
Your NPS is an aggregated score based on individual customer feedback, so it follows that you’ll need to ask customers directly how they feel about your business. Here’s how that works:
1. Survey customers to find out how likely they are to recommend your business, using a scale of 0 to 10.
2. Separate their responses into the three brand affinity categories.
Source: NICE Satmetrix
3. Calculate the percentages of Promoters and Detractors only. Why? Because Passives are neutral. They don’t help or hurt your score.
For example, 600 of 1000 Promoters is 60%, and 200 of 1000 Detractors is 20%
4. Subtract Detractors from Promoters.
60 – 20 = 40
Voila! In this example, the NPS is 40. A company’s NPS can range from a low of -100 (negative is never good) to a high of +100. The higher your NPS, the more likely customers will recommend your business.
The more you know about which customers fall into each these categories, the more successful you will be in building your team of customer promoters.
“But Rachelle,” you might be thinking, “How am I going to get our customers to complete a survey?”
Glad you asked.
Selecting the Best Survey Tool
Customer surveys have come a long way from when SurveyMonkey was the only game in town. The market has expanded, and today’s survey tools not only send out surveys and dump data into spreadsheets, they allow for more customization and integration.
Some of the best tools on the market include:
Many of these tools integrate with customer experience platforms that offer data sharing, multi-channel distribution, and data intelligence that feeds back to your marketing, sales, and customer service teams.
Once you have your NPS, what you do with the data gathered depends on where customers fall in the three categories.
Keep Customer Promoters Happy (and Win Over Detractors)
How you follow up with customers in each of the three categories will vary considerably, especially when your goal is to convert them to customer promoters.
For Your Promoters: Don’t Mess up a Good Thing
Remember, promoters are those customers who could not be happier with your products, service, and company. They most likely have already begun recommending your business to friends, family, and even complete strangers on social media and in general conversation.
Your goal with promoters is twofold: Keep them happy by continuing to provide the exceptional level of service (or better) they’ve come to expect from your business. And, most importantly, ask and empower them to become your customer promoters. Here’s how:
Put Promoters in the Spotlight
Your promoters deserve recognition – for their continued business and fierce loyalty. Show your appreciation and warm them up to the idea of becoming dedicated customer promoters by highlighting them in case studies for your product or service.
Case studies are the fifth most popular content used by marketers and offer the type of information that 82% of consumers value when searching online and making purchasing decisions. They are compelling because they establish proof that your product or service offers value and quality.
Case studies are a win-win proposition. For your promoters, the “give back” nature of linking to customer websites, tagging them in social media, and generally highlighting their business makes the request for recommendations easy and natural. For your business, case studies become a wealth of rich content leveraged across media channels and platforms, including downloadable content offers, blogs, web pages, podcast episodes, and much more.
Reward the Behavior You Want to See
If your company does not have a loyalty program, you should create one. An impressive 69% of consumers are influenced by customer rewards. But your efforts to encourage more customer recommendations for your business don’t have to wait. There are numerous ways to reward your customers for their referrals, and you may want to create reward tiers that entice customers to increase their investment in your company’s success.
Start with the basics. Thank-you notes from company leadership, gifts, and discounts are great rewards for loyal customers. Inviting customers to test new products is another great carrot. Not only does it provide positive reinforcement, they may take it on themselves to start hyping up your product before it’s even released. For those customers that simply make it their business to be customer promoters, give them VIP treatment with invitations to corporate events, special offers or preview offers, and other perks.
For Your Passives: There’s Good and Bad News
The fact that passives don’t enthusiastically indicate a likelihood to recommend your business can mean that something is afoot. Or they could be perfectly happy and just uninspired to share their experiences. The challenge is not knowing.
Your goal with passives is three-fold: Find out where you stand with them, resolve any issues that have had a negative impact, and ask them to become promoters. Here’s what you can do to accomplish your goal:
Dig Deeper to Understand
The same survey you used to calculate and measure your NPS should include questions that help explain their answer to the primary question about recommending your business. Ask if something happened to cause dissatisfaction. Inquire about the value and features of your product or service. Query what your company can do to make up for unmet expectations.
These are the customers who will most likely become promoters if their issues are addressed and if they feel heard. In her groundbreaking book, A Complaint Is A Gift, Janelle Barlow illustrated how dissatisfied customers become fiercely loyal as a result of over-the-top issue resolution. Right now, your passives are ‘meh.’ This is your opportunity to ‘wow’ them.
Make Amends for Any Issues
The feedback you receive from passives may include common issues, questions, or valid suggestions for improvement. Use this information well: Update your FAQs, make customers aware of your issue resolution knowledge base (if you have one), and make right any miscommunication or mistake.
For extra credit and to make your passives really feel good about you, thank customers by name if their suggestion for improving your product or service is being implemented (throwing in a gift card or other perk is also a smart move). Give your passives something positive to share about your business. And then ask them to be customer promoters.
For Your Detractors: Make the Best of a No-Win Situation
Detractors are tough because they’re unhappy … and often vocal about it. These customers are a bit of a powder keg. They could quietly switch to your competitors or they could damage your reputation with a negative review. It’s much harder to turn a detractor into a promoter, so you’ll need to prioritize your efforts. With most detractors, your goal is to learn and make improvements where you can. Here’s how:
Use Negative Feedback for Improvement
In the same way adversity is the best teacher, passionately unsatisfied customers are your best source of feedback. They tend to be brutally honest and excruciatingly detailed. You’ll learn how your company is perceived and what didn’t work for them, which might include valid issues that need to be addressed. Look for patterns and opportunities to improve.
Resolve the Problems You Can
Your detractors may decide not to do business with you, but their problem with your company is still your problem to fix. Do everything you can to resolve it and accept that you can't please everyone. Focus on eliminating as many issues as you can with your products, services, and processes. It will improve your business and serve as an example of something positive your company did in the face of an unsolvable situation.
Great Customer Service = More Customer Promoters
If there’s one common theme throughout all the goals for your customer categories, it is the importance of customer service.
Without a strong focus on great customer service, your sales and marketing efforts are like pouring water into a strainer. You can’t grow if you’re losing customers (and potential customers) as quickly as you’re gaining them. That’s why calculating your NPS score – and then taking bold steps to improve it – is the key to converting promoters, passives, and maybe even a few detractors into lead-generating, brand-loving customer promoters.