To answer this question, we need to start somewhere a little more obvious: Why is service delivery important? The obvious answer is that happy customers pay their bills and recommend your business to others. The next challenge becomes determining for certain whether they are happy (or not) with our service delivery—and if they are happy enough to refer us to others.
There is a single question we can ask that encapsulates this: “How likely is it you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?” The answer to this question is a leading indicator of growth that can help you predict which direction your business is headed before the financials do—which is incredibly useful.
This question is the basis for what we call NPS or Net Promoter Score. There are several things that make NPS a great way to measure—and improve—service delivery. First, it is simple. The customer does not have to invest a lot of time or thought into their answer. They simply give a score of 0 to 10. Optionally you can ask for detail, but the only thing that should be required is the number score. Second, the answer is a good indicator of their overall experience with your company. Lastly, for the data nerds, NPS gives you measurable data from which to take actions we will discuss later in this article.
NPS is measured on a scale of 0 to 10 with ranges defined as:
- Detractors (0 – 6): generally unhappy with your service and would probably say something negative to potential new customers
- Passives (7– 8): satisfied but not overly so—these customers may be at risk for the competition stealing them away
- Promoters (9 – 10): happy with your service and will continue to engage your services and refer you to others when asked
When to ask the question
To get the score, you simply ask the question “How likely is it you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?” and allow them to click on a number. Like I mentioned before, you can optionally include a form field to allow them to give detail but never make it required. It is far more important to get the number score. If you want more detail, pick up the phone when you see the score. You can ask the question at any time but right after an engagement is always a good time. Some opportune times are:
- When a ticket is closed (post-ticket survey)
- Right after you have onboarded a new customer
- When you complete a large project
- At their regular business review
So now that you have this data, what do you do with it? The great thing about data is that it can drive defined workflows. Here are some ideas, broken down by category.
- Ask for the referral. If they are willing to refer, ask them if they have anyone in mind.
- Get a quote, testimonial, or video to use in your marketing.
- Use them as a spokesperson at events.
- Dig deeper and find out what makes these customers different from your promoters.
- Ask them what you could do to make their experience better.
- The goal with passives is to transform them into promoters.
- Find out what went wrong.
- Get details about why they are unhappy. Timing is key—reach out as soon as you see a score less than 7.
- The goal with detractors is also to transform them into promoters, but sometimes your business is not a good match for a detractor. Finding this out sooner rather than later is better for both you and the customer.
Actions speak louder than words
Collecting the NPS scores is meaningless if you do not take action. Create an action plan or workflow for what to do with each and every score you collect. This will make your organization much more effective at moving toward outcomes that satisfy customer expectations and help you steer clear of clients that are not ideal for your business model.
At the end of the day, NPS gives you insight into future growth and arms you with data to take targeted action at clients, people, and processes to improve your overall customer experience. By asking one simple question, you will have your pulse on the overall health of your customer base as well as the information to address each client as an individual.
Getting started is easy, there are many NPS solutions out there or you can simply ask the question and record it in a spreadsheet. The import thing is to get started, define your processes for responding, and get your people to start acting on the scores as you receive them.
Eric Anthony is the Head Operations Nerd at SolarWinds MSP. Before joining SolarWinds, Eric ran his own managed services provider business for over six years.
You can follow Eric on Twitter @operations_nerd