Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Feedback?

We regularly speak with companies that are interested in starting a Net Promoter Score℠ (NPS®) feedback program. We sometimes see a strange phenomenon: People offering various objections to getting started.

This comes as a surprise to us, given how easy it is to get started. A simple survey question for customers to answer, and a standard way to calculate the NPS score itself. So what gives?

More is more

It seems that most people would agree with this statement: More customer feedback is better. Who would want to be blind to opportunities to improve your business, or harvest the goodwill of your most loyal customers?

You might say that there’s a potential downside to customer measurement, which is to drown in too much data. Personally, I think this is an exceptionally rare occurrence. Better to cherry pick the data than to not have it in the first place.

Is NPS signal or noise?

Some types of customer measurement can be inconclusive. No doubt if you have an online presence, you can overdo the measurement of every user click. Trying to make sense of dozens or hundreds of different paths a user can take is hard work if you’re working at that level of detail.

However, the beauty of NPS is in its simplicity. You’re getting a basic signal of loyalty from your customers. The “what” is perfectly clear, even when the “why” might require some more digging.

So where does the hesitation come from?

So much of this is fear of the unknown.

Specifically, what if the feedback is really bad?

  • Are we going to be swamped with dealing with unhappy respondents?
  • Will I look bad?
  • Is someone going to get fired?
  • Will a massive overhaul be required of our product?

These fears are overstated. Seldom, in our experience, is NPS actually bad. At its worst, it’s a mixed bag of promoters with positive feedback, combined with less happy customers. And, when feedback reveals improvement opportunities, seldom is one issue driving all bad scores. Therefore, rarely is a single person or team implicated.

Eating the elephant

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

There’s no reason you can’t collect NPS feedback and make a small initial commitment – not large – to using the feedback.

Some examples of minimal commitments:

  • Track the top-line NPS score over time to make sure you know when it changes. Only mobilize when it goes down by a lot
  • Follow up only with your most important customers
  • Follow up only with the happiest customers, to activate them as advocates
  • Pick one improvement project from the feedback, even if there are several improvement opportunities implied in the feedback

The cost of not collecting customer feedback and becoming enlightened to your customer’s sentiment translates into churn. More customer feedback is better than less. However, recognize that there can a fear of the unknown and specifically a fear of losing face. To mitigate this, start small with limited commitments to respond to the findings. It’s easier to grow into a more comprehensive program once initial fears are dispelled.

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