Can businesses measure customer satisfaction or experience without metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS)? The answer is frequently debated in the service industry. For those with field service operations, mobile workers often provide the most, or only, direct interaction with your customers.
Let’s briefly review what is NPS and its limitations, why feedback segments are a good idea, as well as how to improve the quality of customer feedback and how to refocus on customers in a human-centric way.
Quick review: What is NPS?
The Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is a widely-used metric to identify customer satisfaction, from the happiest customers, or “promoters,” to the most dissatisfied, or “detractors.” As published in a 2003 Harvard Business Review article, marketing consultant Fred Reichheld argued NPS was “the one number you need to grow.”
To determine NPS, companies use a simple, single-question survey, asking “how likely are you to recommend (the company) to a friend or colleague?” Respondents reply using an 11-point scale. Replies of “9-10” classify as “promoters.” Scores of “0-6” are “detractors.” The equation is NPS equals percent of promoters minus percent of detractors.
These indicators give businesses a chance to improve the customer experience, but as expectations continue to rise for more personalized and seamless experiences, NPS isn’t the only number to use anymore.
The ability to measure and benchmark performance is critical, but focusing solely on NPS is risky and may create some serious blind spots. The emphasis on NPS often inadvertently allows customer frustration to persist.
Ensure a better understanding of your customers and customer satisfaction levels when you examine how to add to and qualify NPS results.
1. Understand the limitations of NPS
As one marketer who questions the value of relying on NPS, user experience expert Jared Spool believes it could be bad for businesses and customers alike. Consider these limits of NPS:
NPS ignores middle scores
The NPS formula ignores “passives,” or those who chose 7 or 8 on its 11-point scale (“detractors” score 0-6 and “promoters” score 9-10) in its calculation. This leaves out customers who consider themselves content versus ecstatic. This makes satisfaction levels seem worse than they are.
Average scores are valuable to trends
NPS ignores average scores that can clearly illustrate trends over time.
Is an 11-point scale perfect?
An 11-point scale does not necessarily provide more insight about customer satisfaction than a 3- or 5-point scale.
Less than “extremely satisfied” does not mean “bad”
It’s not always appropriate. If someone had a positive but not exceptional experience, they’ll happily return to do business with you. They might not feel the need to shout about it.
It’s unrealistic to always expect extraordinary scores to come from mundane experiences. So, not every customer interaction is going to be an opportunity for absolute delight, and that’s okay.
The bottom line on NPS
NPS suggests a complex customer story with a single number. In every business, however, customer satisfaction and loyalty is more complicated.
2. Segment customer feedback
If they ignore variations among customers, averages are often meaningless. If you segment by job or customer type, would you find wildly different NPS scores for each group?
With feedback requests, segmentation makes it easier to flag specific issues and discourages broad and one-size-fits-all thinking for customer needs. Segment customers across many areas, such as demographics, geographic location, average or annual spend, and products used.
For the best results, apply segments consistently. Resist the temptation to over-engineer it. Become too granular and you’ll diminish returns on your efforts. Test until you find the right approach and dig into what the results say.
3. Improve the customer feedback experience
Sometimes NPS and survey responses heavily relate to survey delivery. One company, for example, found NPS, as well as response rates, spiked when they requested feedback requests less frequently. If your earnest call for their opinion interferes with a customer’s ability to complete a specific task, their response may show their frustration.
To increase the recording of positive scores, improve survey design. This improves the experience, and encourages negative scores specific to actual service problems which need your attention. When designing feedback collection, consider these best practices:
- Design the survey with mobile best practices in mind. Consider load times, number of clicks required, amount of requested information, and mobile browser styling. More customers are likely to complete it on-the-go from their mobile device if it’s simple and quick.
- Determine when a binary Yes/No question works instead of a multi-point scale.
- Be thoughtful about when you present customer satisfaction surveys. For instance, choose to disable them based on the screen or page the customer views, or present it only after specific job types.
- Be sure to thank customers for survey participation.
4. Use qualitative feedback
Some companies feel qualitative feedback makes it difficult to illustrate broader qualitative trends over time. Concerns suggest it’s often too specific to offer the most important insights into the health of the customer relationship.
Understand measurements like NPS don’t tell the full story, so it’s valuable to seek extra commentary and details from customers.
Qualitative feedback best practices include using automation when available to seek feedback while it’s still fresh. Encourage field service workers to actively listen and solicit feedback during the visit. If the customer is dissatisfied, it benefits the relationship to provide the negative feedback directly, while there’s an opportunity to immediately address it.
Without the opportunity or invitation, customers may use social media or online reviews to air grievances instead. Prepare field workers to answer questions from customers, to offer options, and when possible, empower them to make decisions as needed.
The more qualitative information collected, the easier it becomes to spot patterns and trends, and to turn them into actionable insights.
5. Capture other indicators
Even without a tool specific for measuring customer satisfaction, businesses still collect loads of data from various sources. Absent direct feedback from customers, watch other numbers to make inferences.
Some metrics such as retention, renewals, and upsells signal field service workers do a good job. In contrast, missed appointments, multiple visits for one issue, vague appointment windows, and miscommunications create unhappy customers. Don’t wait for a customer to tell you there’s a problem. Be proactive.
6. Build a customer-first culture
Prioritizing exceptional customer experience takes more than a few posters in the breakroom or a couple company-wide emails. To truly be a leader in customer-centric service, put customers in the center of every action.
- Hire for emotional intelligence and the ability to actively listen, as well as technical skills.
- Make customer satisfaction standards a core part of new employee onboarding and ongoing training.
- Set clear expectations for conduct and reinforce them regularly.
- Provide example scenarios, testimonials, even role play how to empathize with the customer. Ensure field workers remember they’re there to help.
- Support field workers with the right tools, technology, and if applicable, fully-stocked supplies and work trucks. Do what’s necessary to resolve an issue, provide installation, or give superior customer service within a single visit. This shows you value the customer’s time.
- Employ transparency and share customer satisfaction scores and feedback with customer-facing workers. Real examples and data help some people really “connect the dots” better than other methods.
- Most importantly, loudly promote, recognize, and reward good service. Recognition encourages field workers to lead by example and mentor others how to improve customer experience.
There is more to customer satisfaction than NPS
To summarize, NPS, or any single number, never tells the complete story. Customer satisfaction is a priority for every field service organization so adopting a more robust approach to measurement and feedback collection helps target the right areas for improvement.
When field service workers communicate with dispatch and truly listen to concerns, customers enjoy greater satisfaction and a better customer experience.
Ready to upgrade the tools for your dispatch manager and mobile workforce? Learn how with Field Service Lightning.