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Complainers, cry-babies and whiners: How to break through the resistance

In this final post on resistance to changing customer metrics, we consider some of the tips for responding to the objections.  Our first post catalogued the objections, the second one tried to ferret out kernels of truth among the complaints, and this final one provides some proven techniques for addressing the complaints.  This couldn't possibly be a comprehensive list.  But it is the distilled experience of our clients and members of the NPS Loyalty Forum.  I bet you have other advice, too.

A few tips for addressing metric-based resistance to change: 

  • First, make sure they have their facts right.  Many of the purported "studies" that attack the value of Net Promoter Scores or other metrics simply don't provide factual evidence supporting their claims.  Others are fundamentally flawed.  The most popular of all of them actually supports Bain's research under an inflammatory and provocative headline. (See related post:  Don't just read the text - pore over the data.  Also, you should check out some of the other resources, including other blog posts, located on the Additional resources page of this blog.)
  • Bring people back to the primary objective:  Taking actions that will earn your target customers' loyalty (both behaviorally, and emotionally).
  • Few employees understand complicated, proprietary satisfaction or loyalty indices.  Fewer still find them motivating and energizing.  And they rarely perceive them as actionable.  This is as true in the C-suite as it is among hourly customer-facing employees.  It has nothing to do with the intelligence of the employees, and everything to do with complexity and opacity of proprietary models.
  • Click to read more ...


Complainers, cry-babies and whiners? Doesn't mean they're completely wrong

In the prior post, we catalogued some of the most frequently-encountered objections to changing customer metrics.  This time, we'll try to give the objectors the benefit of the doubt and search for what might be valid about their objections and arguments.

What about these objections is valid?

The people raising these objections may be disruptive and even irritating at times.  Sometimes, their objections are based on incomplete understanding of what is being proposed.  Often, they choose confrontational and argumentative ways to raise their issues.  In some cases, they aggressively attack the new metrics without making constructive or helpful counter-recommendations.

Nevertheless, they often raise issues out of a genuine concern for the company's best interests.  (Okay, not always, but often.)  Buried deep in many forms of resistance to change we often find kernels of truth.  These can help improve the solutions and actions you take.

A few of the points that may have some merit: 

  • Sophisticated and complex multi-question customer loyalty or satisfaction scores often provide stronger statistical correlations to customer behavior than do simpler, easier to understand metrics such as the Net Promoter Score.  In fact, in our client work, we have shown that you can get a 5-15% improvement in explanatory power moving from a radically simple Net Promoter Score based approach to one of the proprietary models based on multiple questions.
  • Click to read more ...


Complainers, cry-babies and whiners: Smoking out resistance to culture change

Updated on Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 12:26PM by Registered CommenterRob Markey

If you're not truly serious about changing your company's culture, don't even think about adopting the Net Promoter approach for achieving customer advocacy.  Just changing metrics accomplishes nothing but heartache and pain.  Yes, culture change is hard work.  It requires persistence, patience and perseverance.  But only by changing the culture do you create a sustainable focus on earning your customers' enthusiastic recommendations.

Bain Detractor emoticon available for download by registered site membersAttempts to change a company's culture invariably draw heavy resistance.  One of the most common and distracting forms of resistance often involves a debate about success metrics.  Resistance usually starts quite early in the change process, typically with objections to the validity, advisability or practicality of the new approach.

It can be tempting to dismiss those raising objections as complainers, cry-babies or whiners.  Yet, they sometimes raise important points worth attending to.  Well, okay, not very often.  But sometimes.

This is the first in a series of (probably three) posts focused on resistance to changing customer feedback metrics.  In this one, we'll just try to catalog some of the most frequently-raised objections.

Typical complaints and arguments

Do any of the following resonate?  Have you heard them in your organization? (Fill in the bracketed phrases with whatever is relevant to your company.)

  • "We have years of experience with [our existing customer metric] and we would lose our baseline if we make a switch"
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Is Your Company As Customer-Focused As You Think?

Read the article at the Sloan Management Review web siteMIT's Sloan Journal of Management recently published a provocative article that provides a nice litmus test for customer focus.  Authors Patrick Barwise and Seán Meehan pose five questions to ask yourself:
  1. Can middle managers accurately describe your customer promise?
  2. Can all members of your senior executive team name the three things that most undermine trust among your existing customers?
  3. Is your brand really the best option for customers? Will it continue to be next month and next year?
  4. Have you embraced any novel ideas that have produced significant innovations beyond the familiar during the past year?
  5. Have front-line staff posed any uncomfortable questions or suggested any important improvements to your offering during the last three months?

While there are many other questions you could imagine asking to test the degree to which your organization is customer focused, this is a darned good starting point.  Importantly, they focus on middle managers and front line staff.  Moreover, they focus on what undermines trust, the hardest thing to earn and sustain from your customers.

What's missing?  At Bain, we always start by testing whether an organization can clearly identify its target customers, what they need/want, and what our company is uniquely positioned to deliver to them.  It's an important omission from this list, but I still liked the article.

Click to read more ...


Qwest Net Promoter survey invitation is a near miss

Pete Abila, a lean Six Sigma and operational improvement guy who writes a blog, received an email solicitation from Qwest to take a Net Promoter survey and had a few observations about how the invitation was organized, worded and who it was from.  He also includes screen shots of the survey itself.

It's a pretty good example of a darned good attempt that just barely misses the mark.

You can see his blog post here: