Focus on detractors

Focus on detractors, not NPS or CSAT, to improve customer experience

In business we want to see customer satisfaction scores go up. We want to beat our competition, strive for continuous improvement and be the best we can be.

But we should be cautious about pursuing an ambition to raise NPS and CSAT scores in isolation. The target should always be to deliver a market-leading customer experience, because it will, in turn, result in a KPI focused on higher CSAT and NPS scores.

Putting effort into raising the average score takes serious focus, and if your NPS is already positive or CSAT is over 65% then the amount of investment required could well be high. 

Focus on how the score breaks down and aim to reduce detractors

A detractor bad mouthing your product or services wipes out all the great work done through your marketing campaigns. 

Imagine this scenario: you have zero detractors. It is now impossible to have a zero NPS score. That’s not just a number. This theoretically means you have nobody discouraging others from using your product.

In reality this is near to impossible as some interactions are uncontrollable, but getting your detractors down to less than 5% can have huge implications for your repurchase or renewal rates even if the net NPS score is still modest. 

In the models below you can see the maths behind the above logic. Reducing your detractors to near zero still yields a lower NPS score than if you focus on raising the average of everyone. However, the result of having zero detractors will have a significant impact on your organisation, whereas raising your 8’s to 9’s is likely to have very little impact and, given the high number of people in that bracket, has cost a significant amount of money to do.

Which set of scores would you rather have and why?

So how do you go about reducing the number of detractors you have? 

In simple terms it’s about spotting bad experiences, and the key to doing this across the board is through utilising your operational data. 

Here are some things you can do:

Analyse service data

The obvious indication that somebody has had a bad experience is a raised issue. Are certain regions or products or services, and therefore customers, receiving a sub-standard service? If they are, don’t just fix it and think it’s over. They are likely to be unhappy and it should now be the goal to convert them to a promoter. It’s not enough to send a response to an email in your agreed SLA. We’ve probably all received an automated response. Then 24 hours later an email informs you someone is looking at your ticket. Another 24 hours after that, you’re informed your ticket has been passed onto somebody else. Frustrating! 

Motivate all staff who can impact this journey to decrease the number of detractors and you have a very different response. Give them some freedom to go above and beyond. I once broke my Fossil Smart Watch charger. I couldn’t find an official replacement online so I contacted customer service. They responded the next day to say they would send me a new one free of charge. I went from being annoyed that I couldn’t just buy a new one to getting one for free in an effortless experience. I converted from potential detractor to promotor in one swift £5 interaction, which could result in me purchasing the next gen watch netting Fossil £300 and some positive PR. 

Analyse customer activity

Disengagement can be a warning sign pointing to future dissatisfaction. Who has been subscribing to your email list for months or years and unsubscribed? Who has been actively conversing with your account managers and recently become elusive? The important takeaway here is decide to track interactions that could give an early warning sign.

Analyse operational data

Segmenting operational metrics may offer an early indication of issues with parts of the journey. For example, if certain products or methods of purchasing products have high cancellation rates and/or low renewal rates,  these are likely indicators of a poor customer experience.

Let’s consider the reverse approach; a focus on the promoters. You would be looking to target all those who are not promoters which makes up the vast majority of your customers. Therefore, this requires looking at your customer experience as a whole and then introducing a raft of measures to transform many journeys. We would recommend this is done iteratively, targeting the areas of highest benefit first. However, in order to make gains in your NPS this will need to be comprehensive and across all touchpoints.

Ultimately, it’s about the results and not the score. The danger of focusing on the way you measure satisfaction and actioning specific insights to raise the score, is that it will yield minimal results overall and ultimately lead to a reduced confidence in your CX programme. While your NPS score is rising, other operational metrics such as renewal rate could be falling as you begin to polarise your customers.

You also can’t compare the score directly with your competitors as how, when and who is measured is a big factor. To be a true barometer, a complete cross section of users across the purchasing journey and all touchpoints needs to be surveyed.

Incorrectly measuring NPS or CSATs can return overly optimistic results (see Josh’s blog) but it can also be dangerous to focus on lifting these scores without forensically investigating the figure first. Therefore, we recommend that focusing on the detractors and solving the issues that are most likely to turn people away and drive disloyalty is a much more effective method than attempting to shift your NPS score across the board and focussing purely on it’s value rising.