How One CEO Won Over Customers By Changing Perspective

Strategy

There’s a reason two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies use a Net Promoter Score to gauge their service quality: The correlation between a high NPS and customers’ devotion is undeniable—and brands are built on customer loyalty.

Just ask Elon Musk. Thanks to its incredibly loyal following, Tesla is now the world’s most valuable carmaker. In addition to that title, it has an almost-perfect NPS of 96. Other leading brands aren’t far behind. Netflix, Starbucks, and Airbnb all boast scores in the 68-77 range. Given that the NPS metric can dip as low as -100, that’s impressive. Any positive score is generally considered good, and once you top 50, you’re in excellent shape. But what if your company’s score isn’t so impressive?

Don’t panic. You can improve your NPS and build customer loyalty—and I know that from experience.

The People Metric

You can calculate NPS based on the response to one question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company, product or service to a friend or colleague?” As the leader of a software company that provides enterprise resource planning solutions for the upstream oil and gas industry, it’s a question I think about often.

In our industry, recommendations are nice, but partnerships are critical. Prior to the pandemic, my team knew we had an amazing product, but our NPS didn’t match that. At first, we focused inward, improving the interface and technology to make it even better. It wasn’t until Covid-19 arrived—and a socially distanced world—that our focus shifted outward to partnerships. We concentrated on the customer experience to better serve their needs. As a result, we raised our NPS to an industry-leading 54.6. Throughout the process, we learned to do three things really well. If you want to also raise your score, consider the following strategies:

1. Listen to your customers. Sometimes, you’ll have a solution to a customer’s problem before they even finish explaining it. Resist the urge to interrupt. In many cases, I’ve found that customers are just as eager for an opportunity to talk to someone who will listen as they are to find a solution. Give them that opportunity.

Recently, I spoke with a customer who had trouble understanding some of our reporting options. It would have been easiest to stop them to explain the report, but the more I listened, the more I realized the issue wasn’t with the reporting but with managing the reporting (such as generating the correct reports). We were able to offer the solution their team actually needed, rather than the one we initially thought of.

2. Remain flexible. It’s easy to define a goal and go full steam ahead. We set goals without knowing what the future held, and circumstances changed quickly. When working remotely became the norm, our goals had to shift, and we had new questions to answer. Do we need to evolve our training process? Should we reconsider how we’re communicating?

By pausing to ask these questions, we could refocus on developing stronger partnerships with a new online customer community center. In addition to a knowledge base and resource offering, the center incorporates social hours, virtual peer-to-peer networking, and on-demand training opportunities. It has evolved into a great asset for our customers, and we’ll continue to use it after the pandemic ends.

3. Seize momentum. Taking a unified approach to solving problems and finding new ways to better serve customers created energy and excitement for my team, and it can do the same for yours. Receiving tangible feedback through customer calls and emails kept that going and strengthened our resolve.

Each interaction was an opportunity to learn more about our customers and their industries. As our NPS increased, so did our desire to do the tasks that the metric ultimately quantifies, leading to a better customer experience.

My team wouldn’t have been able to raise our NPS if we weren’t forced to adopt entirely new perspectives. By shifting our focus toward partnerships rather than just products, I can confidently say that we’ve created lifelong customers. Your organization can do the same.

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