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The short survey here is not the one about sweets

The fact that I happened to load up the Logitech and Dunkin Donuts surveys on the same day is pure random chance.  They are in wildly different categories, so it would make sense that their approaches to gathering customer feedback would be wildly different.

That won't stop me, however, from making a few observations about each one.

Logitech's survey all fits on a single page (Click to enlarge)The Logitech survey is really a classic implementation of a Net Promoter approach to gathering customer feedback. (You can download a ppt of survey screenshots here.)  I couldn't really say that if I didn't know how extensively and carefully Logitech's teams use the feedback to inform product development and customer service improvements.  They have talked about their approach in several public forums (plus, they were a member of the NPS Loyalty Forum and hosted one of our meetings).

Logitech is interesting, in part, because they are a product company with challenging product innovation cycles.  They use NPS as a key tool to inform their innovation and product development processes, cutting cycle times from product introduction to product enhancement.  They also have worked hard to figure out how to get a really good sample of feedback on every product, and continue to improve this over time.  They ask for feedback at just the right time -- a couple of weeks after you have installed the product, which gives you the opportunity to get past the initial excitement of the purchase and into the early usage experience.  In my case, I was giving feedback on a webcam.  My feedback was far more valuable and well-informed because I had been using it for long enough to have observed some of its unexpected good features, as well as some of the unexpected annoyances.  So my feedback was far richer and more detailed than it could have been immediately after installation.

A few things to notice, some of which you couldn't glean just from the document here:

  • They trigger the survey off of product registration and time the request to coincide with the first couple of weeks of usage, rather than just purchase or installation
  • Very short, simple survey - it all fits on a single web page
  • Simple, context sensitive drop downs to help you let them know which product you're telling them about
  • Plenty of open-ended, verbatim space.  In their product categories, there are an infinite number of observations a customer could make.  Rather than box us in, they let the end customer decide what to mention and what matters
  • If a customer happens to let them know they are really unhappy with a product, someone from Logitech will typically get in touch with them to follow up - they try to learn more about the situation and even engage in some customer recovery, if possible
  • This Net Promoter survey process is only one part of an overall customer feedback and research approach that also incorporates other forms of customer research, observation and feedback

Dunkin Donuts, on the other hand, is all about the in-store experience.  I don't really know enough about how Dunkin management and front line use the feedback they get, but I do have an hypothesis:  I don't think their front line get very much direct customer feedback.

This is another example of a retail survey that uses a register receipt to deliver the invitation.  I've said before that I never ever had filled one of these out until a few months ago, when I started to wonder what these were like and who spends their time doing this.  I do have to scratch my head and wonder what would motivate the AVERAGE customer to spend time filling out this sort of survey.  Sure, there's a promise of a gift of some sort.  But you had to look closely at the receipt, notice the part asking for a survey, and then make the decision to spend the time going online -- typically a long time after you had consumed the coffee, donut, bagel or sandwich, and maybe even after you'd made yet another visit to one of their stores.

I wonder how many surveys they get each day or week per store.  Is it more than single digits?  I'd be surprised if they get 14 per week per store, on average.  Maybe someone can enlighten me here.  Is it enough to provide quick-cycle feedback to the store manager on how things are going?  Rich enough to provide granular feedback to individual employees (or even to a whole shift) on what they are doing to create lots of satisfied, profitable promoters?

The survey takes 14 pages to get through. (You can download screenshots here.)  I guess if you've gone to all the trouble of finding the survey invitation and getting to their web site, you are geared up for the survey.  There's nothing spontaneous about this process at all.  And for a relatively frequent category (I would guess their best customers come in several times a day, and lots of others come in every work day), it must take something unusual to get most people to sit down to do this.  So a longer survey might be just fine?

Asking the customer for unnecessary information about the visit (Click to enlarge)After entering the store number, the survey asks customers to identify some details about their visit.  I find myself wondering if the point of sale system generates a unique transaction number that could have been used to populate this whole screen for the customer.  It would also take care of the next couple of follow up questions about what you ordered, providing real accuracy about the transaction and taking the burden off the customer.  But maybe they don't have the technology infrastructure to enable that. 

The sixth and seventh pages of the survey ask a number of detailed questions about your satisfaction with individual elements of the experience.  I assume these are the ones they have demonstrated empirically over time to be the biggest drivers of overall satisfaction?  They certainly seem reasonable enough.

Once again, however, I find myself wondering whether all these detailed multiple choice questions are going to generate the granular and detailed feedback that a shift supervisor or store manager would need to coach members the store staff, improve training, change hiring practices, or to set staffing schedules differently.

Finally, if I were completely irate and took the time to complete this survey, what would happen?  Would I get any follow up?  I certainly don't see a mechanism for that here.  Looks like I'm sending my feedback into the "black hole" of market research.

What do you think?


Dell's Web Site Survey Just 5 Minutes (Yeah, Right)

I was waiting for some clients to join a conference call this afternoon and decided to check out a couple of options for replacing my home PC.  It's nearly six years old now, and its fan is about as noisy as I can imagine tolerating.  It takes forever to render videos, and it can't even really show full screen video while running anything else.  So I made my way to the Dell web site, looking to learn a little about the newest hardware.

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Protect and grow your customers in a downturn

Downturns present outstanding opportunities to gain market share versus the competition.  Of course, they are also the time that many companies enter a doom loop of slower growth, depressed profits, declining reinvestment in the business, and ultimately erosion of their market position.  Bain believes Western economies are not likely to grow at a rapid pace for a long time.  For planning purposes, it would be wise to play out the scenario of an extended downturn.  What should you do?

The question of how great companies take advantage of downturns to gain market share is one that we at Bain have studied in detail.  I recently published a short article on the topic as one chapter of a forthcoming book on how to manage through turbulent economic times.

Bain's "customer wheel"

A few tips:

  • Start by identifying your Design Target -- the few customers who represent the vast majority of the economic and strategic value in your business
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An unfortunate experience with a rental car return

I happened to sit next to a senior executive from Hertz on a plane not too long ago. He told me, with some pride, that Hertz had adopted Net Promoter scores as an important success metric. That might be true. But my recent experience returning a Hertz car, filling out their Net Promoter survey, and attempting to resolve a billing error demonstrates just how far the company has to go.

Nothing special

My rental experience in Philadelphia was quite unremarkable in most ways. The car was ready for me when I arrived. It was fairly clean. It ran well. In short, it was fine.

As usual, I stopped at a gas station on the way to the airport to top off the tank. It cost me about $7.00, as usual, to fill up. It was raining as I pulled into the rental return area, and in between swipes of the windshield wipers, I scanned the parking lot for the return agent carrying a portable device to check in my car. While I wasn't rushed to get to my flight, I hadn't left myself excessive time to check in and go through security.

It was mid-day, and I was currently the only customer returning a car, as far as I could see. There was no return agent in sight. Hoping they would emerge, I got out of my car and began unloading my luggage from the trunk. Still no agent in sight, but now I was getting wet in the rain. So I didn't wait all that long before jotting down the gas and mileage on my contract, and traipsing over to the service counter inside.

Rising frustration

I found a long counter with perhaps ten spots for agents. Two were manned. There were three people in line ahead of me, all beginning their rentals. I scanned for a way to get my receipt from one of those automated kiosks, but couldn't locate one in the lobby. So I waited my turn.

"I'm returning a car," I said, as I handed over my contract with the mileage and gas level.

The agent did not make eye contact. "I'll have to get someone to check the car," she said, and quickly picked up a walkie-talkie.

"I wrote down the mileage and the gas," I replied.

I started to feel frustration and angerWithout responding to me, she said something into the radio and waited, looking at the device as if it might register a response on its own. She waited a little longer, hand on one hip, head cocked, staring at the radio. Then she repeated her request. Still no answer.

Abruptly, she put down the walkie-talkie and disappeared into an office behind the desk somewhere. I was left standing there. I hypothesized she had gone to get a supervisor or, perhaps, to call someone on the phone. Minutes passed. I surveyed the lobby. No one had entered the building since

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Virgin Media's impressive customer advocacy turnaround

At last week's Net Promoter conference in Europe, Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett described the NPS journey taken by his company.  It is an impressive story, and one worth paying attention to for anyone considering heading off on such an odyssey.
Starting life as 42 different cable franchises, Virgin Media was formed through a series of mergers and acquisitions over many years.  The company’s NPS journey actually began back in 2005-2006, when Berkett was COO of the latest combination – what was then called ntl:Telewest.  Working with a team from Bain & Company on a series of issues related to the mergers and cost reduction, Berkett was introduced to the Net Promoter concept and approach by the Bain team and became fascinated.  As COO, he determined that he wanted to start measuring Net Promoter Scores in all the company’s businesses.  Moreover, he wanted to implement the Net Promoter approach to closed loop feedback to make it more than a metric and introduce it as an operating discipline.


The core problem he was attacking:  In a business that had been growing largely through consolidation, organic growth was becoming harder and harder to achieve.  While the company had an outstanding network and cable infrastructure with significant potential cost and quality advantages, net growth of subscribers was becoming more and more difficult to achieve in a profitable way.  The economics of the business were under extreme pressure.  “Our number one problem was that we didn’t keep our customers long enough.  We used to lose 1.8% of our customers each month.  At that rate it is incredibly hard to grow,” he said at the Net Promoter conference.

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