Living Beyond a Score: Promoter Index Spirit


“Great organizations are formed and transformed when the culture of ‘Customer-Centric Experience’ flows from the Spirit of treating employees well, so that they are able to treat their customers even better. The spirit for the employees is to treat the customers in such a way, as they themselves would want to be treated. It is living beyond just a score. It is living the Promoter Index Spirit” – Johnson Gill

No one can deny in today’s “Age of Customer”, the value of a “great” customer experience matters the most. Yet, not many can say that they have fully benefited from the concept and its transformative nature to change lives of employees and customers, and enjoy the fruits of it, in achieving sustainable growth, building a great brand, and healthy bottom-line. Have you ever responded to an PI survey and never heard back on your score and feedback? Not acting on feedback, not creating the right culture, not changing systems and processes based on such feedback, not empowering the employees to execute memorable customer experiences, creation of better products and services, not keeping the customers in mind, are all examples of not “living” the Promoter Index Spirit. Why measure it when one has no intention of doing anything about it? It hurts the brand a lot more, when the feedback is not taken seriously, than not to measure it at all. When the Promoter Index Spirit is applied in its true essence, it has a transformative value for a company and its employees, unlike any other I have witnessed in my professional career of dealing with customers.

“PI was a natural fit for Apple. It has become part of the DNA of our retail stores” – Ron Johnson, SVP and founding executive, Apple Retail.

While the topic requires an exhaustive discovery, for it is such a wide topic nonetheless, I can only outline a few thoughts here, providing a deep thoughtful insight for the readers, on how to “live” the Promoter Index Spirit in any organization:

1. Know What it Takes:

All transformative initiatives must become an integral part, or quite simply, the DNA of an organization, which determines what it will do and what it will not. PI is no exception. To begin with, I must know that I will have to ACT on what my employees and customers tell me. And if I am not willing to do that, it is not worth starting it in the first place. Establishing a great customer experience does have a cost with amazing returns. “Am I willing to pay the cost?”, one must ask. Everyone wants great returns on their investments, but without making the “right” investments in the right “areas”, the desired returns will never become a reality. I must also know that every decision in my company must think first about the employees and customers while creating products, services, policies, strategies, systems, etc. How would I make that happen? What kind of people and teams do I need to make this initiative successful? While a lot of soul-searching needs to be done while knowing what it takes to implement such a spirit, but once it is implemented in the right area, it will put you on the right path. And remember, never start something you cannot finish.

2) Keep Your Customers Happy, Keep Your Employees Happier:

No organization has succeeded without taking care of their employees’ happiness. The motivated, engaged, and empowered employees will treat customer the way they are treated by their organization. Think how employees’ lives can be enriched, how they can be inspired, what skills can be instilled and enhanced to make their lives in a meaningful manner. Measuring and improving the Employee PI is pivotal to improving the Customer PI. Give voice to your employees, let them be heard and ACT on what they are telling you. The transformative value of PI cannot be achieved without bringing the employee advocacy into the picture. The customers who receive a memorable experience with your motivated employees is definitely good for business. You should also definitely think about how your employees would spread the image of your organization to their friends and families, who can become the potential customers for your organization easily. Understand the reasons on how they could ACT to change their own lives and in return change your company’s, by being highly motivated through the proper employee-centric spirit.

3) Create Life-Changing Experiences for Customers:

Customers today are more informed and educated, as they have many choices available to them about the products and services. Switching between products in easier than ever before and there is little differentiation between them. What does that leave you with? More than 80% CEOs believe that they will be primarily competing on customer experience as the difference between products is now blurring. It is now all about giving the legendary and memorable Customer Experiences. Creating such experiences for customers that convert them into die-hard loyal fans is the strategy that companies should adopt in their DNA. Creating a product or giving them a service that they fall in love with is the core of customer experience journey. iPhone has generated over $700 billion in sales and $100 billion in net profits for Apple in the last 10 years. Steve Jobs was obsessed with creating an amazing product that his customer would fall in love with. As for services, making them as intuitive, easy, accessible with a background base of motivated employees rendering them, is formidable in the case of Apple. Another such success story of TD Bank can be highlighted here. While banks operated only during the working hours, TD Bank actually kept its customers in mind, and realized that majority of banking happens outside the traditional hours. TD Bank came up with the “24/7 banking” method and got everyone thinking that “WOW, this bank is different and really thinks about me”. You can look for more details on TD Bank’s successful methodology, here.

4) Think of a Great Experience in Everything:

From the workplace environment to company policies, from products to after-sales service, from contact center services to digital services, from product experience to service experience, from culture to diversity, think of creating great experiences both inside and outside. Measure it at every customer touch point, understand insights from different demographics, revenue segments, product categories,  etc., and ACT relentlessly to improve your Customer Experience. It sounds like an “obsession” and that is exactly what it should be. How many times have you seen marketing campaigns that hide behind fine print? Customers feel deceived and duped. The Marketing Team, in such cases is not thinking of how customers would feel. How many times do you buy a product and later find out that the return policy is unheard of? How many times you call a helpline and have to go through a headache of “press this”, “press that”, before you reach a customer representative, only to find out that call was rushed to be wrapped up so costs can be saved? These are some of the experiences which are dramatically opposed to the ones that create loyal customers for life. Stay consistently obsessed with creating promoters, who sing your praises, buy more and cannot stop telling their friends and family about your brand.

5) Be Obsessed by Promoters, Be Fanatical About Detractors:

While promoters sing your praises, give you more business and bring you more customers to do business with you, detractors cost more, have a negative customer life time value, and they demote your brand by telling everyone about their bad experience/s with your brand. This ultimately eats away your bottom-line. Do you remember Dave Carroll’s “United Breaks Guitars” song? United Airlines lost $180 Million in four weeks from the time the video was posted online, dropping their stock price by about 10%. The video was posted on July 6, 2009, and had about 18.1 million views, 125,000 likes until June 2018. In another horrific incident, a 69-year-old Kentucky doctor, David Bao, was dragged off a United Airline plane, injuring him during the process. It cost the airline about $140 million in the settlement. These are extreme incidents of poor customer experience costing not only loss of gigantic amounts of money but a great embarrassment to a company. Due to such incidents, it is also extremely difficult to calculate the revenue loss from customers, who heard about these incidents and would never do business with the company again. Even under normal circumstances, for every detractor that gives negative feedback, there are 10 others that do not give feedback and silently leave, and then tell everyone about how poor their experience was. This all leads to a great loss for any company. Should you be more obsessed with your detractors? By all means. TD Bank talks to every customer who gives them a rating of 6 and below on a scale of 1-10. They would even try to schedule a conversation between their branch managers or senior executives and their detractors. The managers/executives talk to the detractors, and find out what happened, and ACT accordingly to improve their customer experience.

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