GE Capital The Net Promoter Score: A low-cost, high-impact way to analyze customer voices

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1 GE Capital The Net Promoter Score: A low-cost, high-impact way to analyze customer voices

2 The Net Promoter Score: A low cost, high impact way to analyze customer voices GE Capital s Net Promoter survey is cost-effective to produce and has become a key input into a host of strategic decisions. The core of the survey s output is a single metric the Net Promoter Score. Its accuracy and simplicity is a boon to senior executives and managers alike. But its greatest power is actionable insight. This comes from the reasons behind the quantitative score the needs and pain points that drive customer behavior. GE Capital Americas constantly tries to improve our understanding of buying behavior and the values that drive it. We call this understanding customer insight. We create customer insights by gathering customer voices and using repeatable processes to analyze them. Then, we adjust our sales and marketing strategies accordingly. We use multiple channels and tools to create a stream of customer voices for analysis. These include surveys (phone and online), focus groups, meetings, events and Internet mining, including monitoring social networks. Our annual phone and survey is designed to produce a business-wide measurement of what customers feel about GE Capital Americas as a lending partner. What percentage is loyal and enthusiastic promoters? How many customers are passive or neutral and therefore open to being poached by a competitor? What percentage is unhappy? Those unhappy detractors are probably already looking for an alternative to GE, and they are most likely to share their criticism with others. The survey uses the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which was invented by Fred Reichheld, a Bain & Company consultant. Through experience we have learned that an NPS survey has the advantages of simplicity, consistency and depth. It creates a single, quantitative metric for customer attitudes toward our products and businesses, and it uses the same questions to track our competitors. The Net Promoter Score: A low-cost, high-impact way to analyze customer voices 2

3 Open, qualitative questions give us deep insight into why our customers feel the way they do, which helps GE Capital Americas solve important customer problems. Repetition of the same survey questions allows us to analyze our progress and other trends over time. The end result is that both senior management and their teams can quickly and meaningfully compare customer advocacy levels across all of our businesses and relative to our competitors. Listening now happens via multiple channels and tools Access GE Phone Survey Online Survey How NPS works The heart of the GE Capital Americas NPS research is two survey questions. The first asks customers and prospects to rate the likelihood they would recommend GE Capital Americas to a friend or colleague on a scale of zero to 10. This question is the most informative for most companies. (For supporting research, see The Ultimate Question 2.0 by Fred Reichheld.) Online Community Customer Outings Listening mechanism during customer lifecycle Customer Advice Bureaus Social Media Five advantages of the GE Capital Americas Net Promoter Survey 1. Quantifies the magnitude and causes of positive and negative relationships with our customers Industry Events Feedback to Sales Rep. Focus Groups 2. Allows for repetition over years that can easily generate historical trend analysis 3. Creates a single metric that represents the voice of the customer for all of our businesses and products 4. Has sufficient depth to help managers across GE Capital understand which actions should be taken to increase scores 5. Scores competitors against the same criteria as GE Capital creating a rich competitive analysis Promoters are respondents that rate their likelihood to refer us as a 9 or 10. They are likely to be loyal customers, who are enthusiastic about their experience with GE Capital Americas. Often they are evangelists for our brand. When a customer selects 7 or 8 out of 10, we know that person is probably happy with our services but has a neutral feeling about GE Capital Americas. These customers are passive. Experience shows they have weak loyalty, i.e., are easily enticed by the right offer from a competitor. Detractors estimate that the likelihood of recommending us is 6 or less. The closer the score to zero, the more likely the customer is both ready to leave and also telling others about his or her bad experience. The NPS comes from subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage promoters. For GE Capital Americas, NPS is correlated with ROI and cycle time. The Net Promoter Score: A low-cost, high-impact way to analyze customer voices 3

4 NPS is a simple formula % Promoters - % Detractors = Net Promoter Score The second survey question is almost the same as the first. We ask respondents to rate their likelihood to refer a competitor on the zero to 10 scale. The two core questions require survey respondents to directly compare us to our competition. They also have to consider whether they would put their reputation on the line. The imaginative exercise gives them a personal stake in the response. In theory, this produces a truer reaction. For GE Capital Americas, studies show that NPS correlates with return on investment (ROI) and cycle time (the time we take from customer approval to deliver their product). The higher the NPS, the higher the ROI; and the shorter the cycle time, the higher the NPS. Other businesses may discover different correlations. In mature industries, for example, Bain and Company s research shows that a higher NPS often correlates with higher revenue. According to Richard Kelly, GE Capital s Global Market Research Director, It is really pretty simple. Your customers are either happy or not happy with what you are doing. If they feel they are receiving superior, uncommon service at a fair price, they are going to do more business with you. The challenge is finding a simple and accurate way to measure their attitudes. We think NPS works pretty well. How we produce a company-wide NPS GE Capital Americas fields the NPS survey at the beginning of each year. In 2012, we spoke with roughly 200 customers who account for approximately one third of our revenue. Our target interviewee is a senior-level executive, often in finance, such as a chief financial officer. Such executives are still less likely to respond to an online survey than to a phone survey, but surveys are becoming more popular. In industries where incentives are allowed, we offer respondents a $100 gift certificate plus a matched charitable donation. We select questions that test our hypotheses about our customers needs and the value propositions offered by GE Capital Americas. For example, after a respondent ranks the likelihood of referring GE Capital or one of our competitors (see earlier), we always ask the reason for his or her rating. A customer who gives a low score is obviously unhappy, but only the answer to Why? tells us what the customer needs and what actions we need to take to fill that need. Our questionnaire is 15 questions, requiring about 15 minutes to complete. Approximately 10 questions are the same for all interviewees every year and many repeat from year to year. We ask questions about the main drivers of our value propositions, such as sales and support, the account manager, our online tools, billing and pricing. This allows us to track trends and compare business lines and products. Each GE Capital Americas business also contributes approximately five questions that address market dynamics, products or customer segments specific to that line of business. Who is critical to success Within GE Capital Americas, the NPS survey is not seen as a marketing or sales effort. It is a business improvement effort. Our customer insights team works hard to gain the trust and involvement of business leaders, who in turn help win over the sales force. In addition to the customer insights leader (a marketing role), our NPS steering committee includes business leaders, sales mangers, risk managers, the legal team and the executive leadership. The business leadership must be involved at the very beginning. Designing the questionnaire, for example, is a NPS tracks customer satisfaction across years and against competitors. Promoter Passive Detractor 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% Net Promoter Score 0% Your organization % 17% Scores are for illustration purposes only. 6% 9% 9% 10% Competitors % 2012 strategic exercise that asks, What are the most important things we need to know about our customers? Sales leaders can help early on as well priming the sales force for change and raising the survey response rates by encouraging customers to participate. Our customer insights leader and steering committee spend the majority of time on commercial activation, not the technical execution of the NPS research. By this we mean gaining the trust of business and sales leaders so that the recommendations that emerge from the NPS analysis are actually implemented. Commercial activation is one of the main challenges marketing leaders face. Another is time management. Many marketing leaders who try to implement NPS spend the majority of their time on technical execution and fielding. We use a research partner to do the bulk of this work. The Net Promoter Score: A low-cost, high-impact way to analyze customer voices 4

5 Asking customers Why? tells us what actions will improve our offering. Our customer insights team focuses instead on building the business case for NPS, securing adequate funding and then winning the support of GE Capital s commercial leadership. To keep costs low we analyze the results inhouse. For companies without the necessary analytical capability, research firms also provide this service. What GE Capital Americas does with NPS Because the business leaders and sales teams believe in our NPS process, they are eager to see the results. Soon after we launched our first NPS survey it became clear that the sales teams could not wait for the full analysis if the survey uncovered an unhappy customer. We established a red alert system that reports negative responses to the relevant sales team within a week of the survey interview. The team then contacts the customer as quickly as possible. From the survey they know the customer s unmet need or complaint and can prepare accordingly. As a standard practice, our sales teams also call all our strategic accounts. They address any concerns revealed in the survey or simply double check that the customer is truly happy. Once the survey results are complete, they become a key input into market strategy. We reassess our customer segmentation and value propositions according to the NPS results. We may also incorporate the NPS results into the variable compensation of our sales force by comparing current and historical scores. There are, in fact, many strategic decisions that NPS supports. We make improvements in products, services, delivery and pricing to address customer pain points expressed in the NPS. For example, in our Latin American Fleet Financing unit, we use NPS to track the progress of a market segmentation initiative that includes new investment in our fleet services offering and refocusing our customer targeting (i.e., sales force redeployment). The future of NPS at GE Capital Americas At GE Capital Americas we want to hear the voice of the customer as often as possible. The next frontier is to gather NPS data throughout the year. Internet data mining will help us reach this goal. We increasingly use Internet mining to augment the NPSbased view of our customers. We focus on unstructured text Internet conversations on social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs. Again, we employ vendors to deliver the data to us and, in this case, help with the analysis. Internet mining will not replace active surveying because it does not capture the silent majority. Many people, particularly the buying audience for GE Capital Americas, are very careful about what they post in the online commons. Over time, however, we expect the depth of the intelligence from these online sources will increase significantly. Already we gain an additional dimension of insight that we do not capture in active surveys. Most importantly, the Internet gathers consumer voices 24 hours a day, so we can tap this intelligence throughout the year. Many organizations are merging the new stream of customer voices from the Internet with other streams such as NPS surveys to create tools that business and sales leaders access on demand. GE Capital Americas shares this vision of self-service customer analysis that will, for example, make it easy for our business leaders to compare year-over-year and campaign-over-campaign NPS. Such initiatives are still cutting edge. They involve significant investments in the latest technologies. The costs of NPS surveying and even some Internet mining, however, are reasonable. Most of the analysis and key insights from our NPS survey are delivered to our employees in spreadsheets and presentations. And this output is clear and actionable. As Richard Kelly says, Every mid-size and small business could design something efficiently and make it simple for customers to tell them what drives customer happiness. It might be as simple as setting up a website where customers answer a few quick NPS questions after a transaction. The most important part is using the feedback. GE Capital is an extension of GE s rich heritage of building and supporting growth. Investing in the sectors we know best, we can provide more than just financing: We bring insight, knowledge and expertise to every loan. And as a result, businesses that finance with GE Capital benefit from the global know-how and expertise of GE. gecapital.com 2012 General Electric Capital Corporation. All rights reserved. This publication provides general information and should not be used or taken as business, financial, tax, accounting, legal or other advice. It has been prepared without regard to the circumstances and objectives of anyone who may review it; therefore, you should not rely on this publication in place of expert advice or the exercise of your independent judgment. The views expressed in this publication reflect those of the authors and contributors and not necessarily the views of General Electric Capital Corporation or any of its affiliates (together, GE ). GE does not guarantee that the information contained in this publication is reliable, accurate, complete or current, and GE assumes no responsibility to update or amend the publication. GE makes no representation or warranties of any kind whatsoever regarding the contents of this publication, and accepts no liability of any kind for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information contained in this publication. GE, General Electric Company, General Electric, General Electric Capital Corporation, the GE Logo, and various other marks and logos used in this publication are registered trademarks, trade names and service marks of General Electric Company. You may not use, reproduce, or redistribute this publication, any part of this publication, or any trademark or trade name without the written permission of GE. The Net Promoter Score: A low-cost, high-impact way to analyze customer voices 5

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