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Entries in Answering critics (5)


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.
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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.
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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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Some recent blog posts on the Net Promoter approach

There has been a range of both criticism and praise for the Net Promoter approach around the industry.  Here are a couple of links to recent blog posts that you may find especially helpful:

  • What's Not Wrong with Net Promoter Score?  Adam Ramshaw, a principal of customer experience specialist consulting firm Genroe (in Sydney), refutes some of the most frequent criticisms of NPS in a practical and helpful way
  • 10 Lessons Learned from 10 Years of Net Promoter Satmetrix CEO Richard Owen's summary of some of the most important principles to follow when putting the Net Promoter approach into practice.  Very, very consistent with Bain's approach (it should be, since he works closely with us)
  • Changing a Culture with NPS (registration/log-in may be required).  This is the story of how Concentra, a healthcare provider in the US, uses NPS to help drive improvement throughout its facilities.  It is posted on the blog for the Satmetrix NY 2010 Net Promoter conference (which will be held the first week of February 2010)

Don't just read the text, pore over the data!

I am often asked what I think of an article that appeared about 18 months ago in the Journal of Marketing regarding the link between revenue growth and NPS.  My simple answer:  the data and analysis in that article support our own findings that Net Promoter is statistically just about as good as anything else out there.

But that is not the whole story for three reasons: 

  • Their analysis may or may not be statistically sound, but it is managerially and strategically unsophisticated
  • It is based on data of questionable value for this purpose
  • They miss the whole point of NPS, which is that while it is “good enough” as a predictor and explainer of relative competitive growth, its real strength lies in how powerful it can be as a tool for organizational change

Data tableBecause the article’s data analysis, based on Norwegian consumer surveys, falls far short of what we can do with our clients' data, it fails to support (or challenge appropriately) what the most sophisticated NPS users all know:  done properly, Net Promoter Scores explain a lot of the variation in competitive organic revenue growth rates.  Read that last sentence carefully, because the language is quite specific.  In fact, if you are going to reduce your customer metrics down to a single question, the Net Promoter methodology is most often the one that does the best job.

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