It’s funny – just asking customers what they want more of is one of the best ways to see where the market is heading, and where the pressure is strongest.
We’ve been surveying our customers via Net Promoter® for about five years, and each year, we ask three key questions:
Then we ask a few spontaneous questions – to get a better understanding of where our clients are feeling the most pressure (which typically connects pretty tightly to how we can improve), and where they want to grow. As I look back, our clients’ comments, as a group, have been an uncannily accurate temperature check – and a read on the business environment.
Here’s what stood out by year, and what it really meant (with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight):
|Year||NPS feedback||What they were really telling us|
|2007:||Improve your turn-around time.||Fix the basics. I want to depend on you, and the pressure on me is intense. I can’t afford to have any mistakes.|
|2008:||Show me more what’s going on behind the scenes.||This PR business is becoming more important, and it’s harder. Help me sell you, and the work we’re doing together, to all of my stakeholders. Let’s do more PR for PR.|
|2009:||Tell me what’s ahead.||The marketplace was nearly frozen in place, and suddenly, no one knew how to plan. We had our finger on the pulse across industries, and customer bases. We became a window into visibility.|
|2010:||Become even smarter about my industry.||PR is no longer expendable, and it’s certainly not just about cranking out a news release. Arms-and-legs are tactical, and customers need strategy – that intersects with sales, competition, acquisitions, and integration, especially from a B2B customer’s perspective. So the more we understand about the sales process, and customers, and the intersecting elements in an enterprise sale, the better.|
|2011:||Tell me more about what’s going on: my market, and my competition.||No one has time to keep up, or read, or monitor, and the competition is moving fast. Everyone needs more eyes, ears and intelligence. Which is why we’re rolling out more programs for insight, communication, and sales acceleration in 2012.|
So five years into Net Promoter, I’m still sold. It’s simple, quantifiable, and provides a steady stream of insight that can’t be pushed away.