A colleague and friend once told me that my biggest strength was that I had a high level of natural inquisitiveness. Or was it weakness? Maybe he was just saying that I asked a lot of questions. Or too many? I may be biased, but I will go with ‘strength’ and ‘right amount’. And it is not just asking questions. For me it is a desire to understand and to learn. Especially anything new, or different, or just interesting.
I like hearing people speak. I enjoy hearing descriptions of challenges overcome, of innovations introduced, of opportunities seized. I love to hear about related (or not) industries. It is always about listening and learning. Looking for insights and opportunities to transfer and apply.
I first came across Net Promoter Score some years ago at a Continuous Improvement conference in New York. It was an unusual but amazing day. We had presentations from Banking, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Military. I was bemused as I arrived, transfixed as I attended and inspired as I left.
Net Promoter Score (or NPS as I soon came to realise it is affectionately known) was described by an attendee from a company manufacturing healthcare technology. NPS was one third of a ‘balanced scorecard’ used to assess their business performance. The other two being growth in business and achievement of budget (top line sales and operating margin respectively in her case). I didn’t focus on these two – both of which I had heard of before…although I very much liked that concept of balance in her scorecard.
NPS was something new. And it was simple. Customers are asked if they would recommend the (service delivery) company to a colleague or a friend. Responses are captured on a 0 -10 scale where respondents are classified as ‘Detractors’ (0 – 6), ‘Passives’ (7 – 8) or ‘Promoters’ (9 – 10). Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting percentage of detractors from percentage of promoters.
NPS is all about us as customers and our experience with a service provider. It is truly quality in the eye of the customer…and yet it is independent of a successful outcome. It is absolutely possible to improve and yet it is very hard to manipulate. It is all about clients, their perception and their experience. Success is achieved by focussing on customers and their experience. It is as amazing as it is challenging – every customer is different. And that is both the simplicity and the beauty.
In the absence of anything else, I assumed NPS could be successfully applied within an organisation (assessed by internal customers), as much as it can be applied by a business with external customers. And this is how we started.
Once I knew the Ultimate Question, I realised I saw it everywhere. On airplanes and in restaurants. On internet shopping sites and in hospitals. Sometimes it was surrounded by other questions, but the ultimate NPS question is always there.
I always respond. I like it most when there is a follow up of some sort – even a thank you email makes me feel listened to and – above all – valued. When we applied NPS within an organisation we followed up with internal responders – whatever their score – to learn and understand…and to improve. And the same keys to success apply for external customers…customers who are really no different from internal customers (other than that we pay with real money).
We all like to be treated individually. We all appreciate advice and support and timely information. We all need to know that whoever is looking after us cares about us, cares what we think, and cares what we want.