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Net Promoter Scores, Meet Your New Best Friend: Behavioral Marketing

by: Dave Walters (@_DaveWalters)
29 July 2013

Three times in the last few weeks of meeting with digital marketers, I’ve ended up deep in conversations around Net Promoter Scores. The business models have been different (ecommerce twice and events once), but the goal has been the same: All of these companies are seeking to objectively measure their performance and hold themselves to an ever-higher standard for customer experience. It started me thinking about the sheer power of a framework like Net Promoter, and the role behavioral marketing could play to take these critical insights one or two steps further.

Net Promoter What?

If you’re not familiar with the Net Promoter Score (NPS), I’d suggest starting with this overview of the theory and thinking. The short version is you poll your customers with a single question that puts them on a spectrum of advocates (my term). The question is:

How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?

By slotting people into a 1-10 scale and then doing some simple audience math, the company arrives at a objective, quantitative score for the brand overall. From there comes the more challenging aspect of asking that single question: Your company now has to have the courage and conviction to address anything that creates customer dissatisfaction. The best brands are medievally good at this — in fact, one of my customers this week told me they personally call anyone who responds with a subpar score so they can address the issue head-on.

Having been in digital for more than 20 years, I’ve seen a fair amount of customer satisfaction frameworks come and go. There’s always a trade-off between the quality of insights versus the effort you can reasonably expect a customer to provide (or the money you’re willing to spend with research firms). And there’s an entire camp of folks who would contend people answer questions differently than they actually behave, which is one of those variables we’ve tested in usability sessions for years. This is where I think the core tenets of behavioral marketing could play a very important role in understanding your customers’ mindset.

Scoring the Person

Firstly, let’s assume you’re associating Net Promoter Scores directly with customers in your CRM, marketing database or some other system of record. I’ll defer to deep-stack practitioners on how best to analyze NPS trends — some may only hold the most recent score, or maybe they log the most recent score and average the previous five, or whatever logic a brand finds equal parts useful and technically feasible. This is where I’d contend there’s a great intersection point between the NPS score and a behavioral-driven score.

Imagine a scenario where a marketer has a behavior-based scoring model set to assign points based on page views, videos watched, emails opened, support tickets opened or forms submitted (or all of those behaviors). Again, these scores are directly attributed to a given customer at the database record level. This would create another fully objective score based on the customer’s actions. Quite often, the actions might tell an expanded — or potentially even different — story of a user’s satisfaction. From an analytics standpoint, this would allow a true data-driven marketer to run a correlation report between the two scores.

You might discover there’s a logical relationship between those who are highly engaged in terms of Web activity and high NPS scores. Or, in the case of ecommerce, you might find the highest scores come from those who spend the least amount of time on the site — and therefore, their success levers are SKU selection and price. Or you might find more Web activity leads to a lower NPS score, which would indicate that some usability work is needed on the site. Regardless of the analysis, this type of quantification would be red meat for today’s data-driven marketers.

Making a Difference

And by tracking these two indices at the customer level, it opens the possibility to market specifically based on the scores. Imagine an automated program that drops any neutral user into a drip campaign that’s designed to reinforce the company’s strengths and overall value proposition. And another automated program could be running where any score below a five pushes a contact record directly into an inside sales call queue for immediate follow-up.

If your company exists at the intersection of data and customer satisfaction, this is a great one-two punch to effectively quantify and improve your customer experience. It’s also a pretty straightforward road map if you’re not sure how to even think about quantifying your customer experience without paying consultants tons of money.

Related Resources:
1) White Paper: “20 Ways to Personalize Content and Enhance the Customer Experience
2) Blog: “5 Creative Ways to Use Scoring
3) Blog: “Behavioral Marketing Done Right: Big Ups to Foursquare and Sephora


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