Net Promoter ℠ Is All About Change Management

If you want to be successful with any customer feedback program – NPS ® or otherwise – you need to think of it as a catalyst for change first and foremost. Which means you need to pay attention to the impediments to change, lest all that customer feedback is ignored.

Customer feedback is about learning something new

The purpose of asking customers for feedback is to learn something you didn’t already know. It’s always worth reminding your colleagues of this.

There are 2 ways that feedback can be new:

  • New issues. Customers are telling you about something you’ve never heard before. An obvious example would be feedback about a new capability of your product.
  • Issue prevalence. Even for feedback you’ve heard before, customers can indicate the prevalence of an issue based on how many times you get the feedback. Without feedback programs, prevalence can be very hard to quantify.

New feedback = change

NPS feedback almost always contains something new. And “new” means change:

  • Our prior understanding of the customer base is overridden
  • Our priorities for how to best serve the customer are no longer optimal

If we commit ourselves to acting on customer feedback, you can see how it’s both an agent of change and a source of stress for our organizations. Changing your mind and changing your priorities is hard.

3 steps to drive change

What can you do to use NPS to drive change?

Executive support. Everybody says you need executive support for your Net Promoter program. What’s implicitly what’s being said is that executives need to support the change that NPS feedback will require of their organization. Fair enough.

I think there’s another facet to the executive support topic. Executives themselves can be faced with many conflicting priorities. At times, this can tempt them to put aside the changes called for by customer feedback. Declaring public support for NPS is a way to secure their own commitment as much as it is their subordinates’.

Incentives. If you measure and reward performance based on response to customer feedback and improved NPS scores, you can be confident that people will adapt and align to deliver those results.

Clarity. Be careful not to interpret ambiguous feedback into something more conclusive. Change must be sold, and the case for change must be persuasive.

Better to take one or two obvious conclusions from your customer feedback and drive real improvement, than to push additional priorities that are less compelling to your colleagues.

Resources on change management

There are many, many books and articles on how to lead change. One of my favorites is by Chip and Dan Heath, called “Switch”.

If you’re in a large organization, you might also find management consultants to be helpful. They have change management practices and some real expertise on how to move your organization along. For those of us working in smaller companies or with fewer resources, even a good book is better than not.

Remind your colleagues that the purpose of asking customers for feedback is to learn something you didn’t already know. Understand that new information equates to change, and possible resistance. Enable change with executive support, incentives and prioritization.

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