NPS survey response rate for Professional Services grows by a factor of three
I was reviewing our customer satisfaction survey results at work about a year ago, and I wasn't happy with the results. Customers weren't returning the surveys. We knew that we were pleasing our customers, but it wasn't something we were effectively measuring with our six question Likert scale survey. Three out of four customers weren't responding, leaving us blind to how we were doing.
Services businesses rise and fall based on the strength of their existing customer relationships. A happy customer is far more likely to act as a reference to a potential new customer. A dissatisfied customer is less likely to do business with you again, and isn’t someone you want on a reference call.
In July, I led the rollout of the Net Promoter Score or NPS for Professional Services. The premise of NPS is simple: you get to ask one main question, and a follow up question. That’s it - a minimalist approach to surveys. We further simplified the possible responses to just four: customers would either recommend us, think about it, not think about it, or just not. The follow-up question asks why the respondent gave that response.
Three out of four customers now respond after they've had a consulting engagement. It turns out that simplifying the survey process has increased the response rate. When a customer leaves feedback they’d recommend us, I call them and ask if I can put their quote up on our website.
The other part of NPS that has worked well is ‘closing the loop’. Normally, organizations review their surveys after a fixed duration. That duration is long enough that if a customer wasn’t happy that it’s far too late to try to take corrective action. Under NPS, if a customer leaves feedback that they’re not likely to recommend us, or just won’t recommend us, my phone beeps. My watch starts vibrating. I get an email, too. All those notifications have the customer’s name, their response, and their phone number.
I’ve dropped off conference calls to call those dissatisfied customers back immediately. This has happened rarely, but when it has, customers were surprised that I called them at all. This process of closing the loop is invaluable as customers have been able to tell me exactly what they weren’t happy about and then for me to be able to ask how I can help to make it right. By comparison, most surveys are a one-way communication.
NPS isn't a cure-all; companies like Comcast use NPS but that hasn't improved their customer satisfaction ratings. What NPS provides is visibility into that level of customer satisfaction and engagement. It’s up to management to take actions on that data, which is why it’s better to have more survey results than not.