The Other Ultimate Question

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The Other Ultimate Question
The Other Ultimate Question

Whether or not you buy in to Net Promote Score, it's done something great for business: It's brought focus to the customer, ForeSee CEO Larry Freed noted when we spoke recently. As result, marketers have gotten budget for initiatives focused on such areas as voice of the customer, customer experience, and customer engagement. Some businesses have seen such a big impact from tracking NPS and making improvements based on their findings that they even share their scores with Wall Street, Freed said.

Asking customers, “Would you recommend us…,” was around long before NPS made it famous as the ultimate question. But it's not the only question to ask to get an accurate read on detractors and on true customer dissatisfaction, Freed said. “Some customers just don't make recommendations,” he said. This may be due to personal preference, product type, or actual dissatisfaction. And that's where the potential impact lies: understanding who is indifferent and who is truly dissatisfied, Freed said.

So how can marketing and customer experience (CX) leaders determine which detractor customers are which? By asking the other ultimate question: How likely are you to discourage someone from doing business with this company? Clearly, the higher the score, the more dissatisfied the customer. But more important, this insight gives marketers and CX executives the opportunity to find out why those customers are dissatisfied, attempt to and perhaps resolve the issue, and possibly even turn the customer into a promoter as a result. Marketers who prioritize their customer outreach by areas such as level of dissatisfaction or customer value can add additional impact.

According to Freed, research that ForeSee conducted shows that NPS overstates true detractors, in terms of actually dissatisfied customers, by 260 to 270%. “Understanding who just doesn't recommend versus who is dissatisfied gives you the information you need to uncover and fix problems, or stop marketing to unhappy customers,” Freed said.

The goal of asking the “discourage” question, he said, is to have more precision in NPS scoring. (ForeSee recently released a tool called Word-of-Mouth Index designed to assess both “recommend” and “discourage” for a truer score.) “You don't need to throw out NPS,” Freed said. “You need to get more accurate information to drive business decisions and move the needle” on true customer engagement. And, ultimately, the more accurate the information, the more relevant the marketing.

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