How To Use Your NPS Survey Results to Boost Retention

by Janet Choi

When Jim Bush took over customer service at American Express in 2005, most companies were evaluating their support efforts on one metric: how quickly reps could use their canned scripts to get customers off the phone. He had a hunch that treating customers like human beings, even if by a little, would be a huge boon to the company.

Viewing customer service as an opportunity to build amazing relationships with customers rather than a cost of doing business led him to institute the net promoter score (NPS) system developed by Fred Reichheld at Bain & Company in 2003. NPS is a simple survey that asks, “How likely are you to recommend our company?” Answering on a scale from 0-10, respondents are then categorized according to their rating as detractors, passives or promoters.

The net-promoter concept transformed customer support. Instead of asking “How can I resolve this call?”, reps started thinking in terms of “How can we get the customer to want to recommend American Express to friends?” Both attitudes are geared towards fixing problems, but the latter builds incredible long-term value: customer loyalty and engagement.

That long-term view worked. Bush found that promoters — those most likely to recommend American Express to others — were spending 10-15% more than others, and were four times more likely to stay with the company.

As Jim Bush told Fortune:

we moved from being transaction-oriented — the investment and training had been all around how to complete the transaction — to building on the relationship with the customer.

Building relationships and fostering that sense of advocacy in customers relies on following up and continuing conversations. Here are some ideas for how to use NPS surveys to build stronger relationships with your customers and increase engagement, reduce churn, and strengthen retention in the long run.

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How to SMARTen Up Your Lifecycle Emails

Let’s face it: sometimes we have dumb goals. We want to be fitter, happier, more productive without bothering to sit down and figure out why and how.

SMART goals is a popular framework used for productivity and management to break down those lofty goals into something feasible. The idea is that if you deliberately design your objectives, you can better set yourself up for success in accomplishing them.

The SMART acronym provides 5 criteria to help set effective goals:

  • Specific: Is your goal specific?
  • Measurable: How do you know whether you’re making progress?
  • Achievable: Is the goal realistic and attainable?
  • Relevant: Is this a goal that matters? Will it drive you forward?
  • Time-related: What’s the timeframe for the goal to be achieved?

Bringing clarity and concreteness to goals clears the path to actually taking steps. With a well-defined, worthy objective, you can tell how you’re faring in reaching it and figure out what you need to get there.

Applying the SMART goals approach is also useful for planning great emails — which, like all human goals, has an inclination to stay fuzzy until we deliberate on them.

S.M.A.R.T. Email goals

Here’s a 5-criteria checklist, adapted for SMARTening up your emails:

  • Specific: Did you define a specific conversion goal?
  • Measurable: What metric are you going to use to indicate progress?
  • Achievable: Is the conversion goal realistic and attainable?
  • Relevant: Is your goal relevant to users at this point? Does your message resonate because it provides value and helps drive them forward?
  • Time-related: Is this the optimal time for this type of conversion goal? What is the behavioral trigger and timing for the emails?

You can use SMART goal-setting for any type of marketing email, but it’s especially handy to apply to lifecycle emails. SMART goals can provide a blueprint for architecting a lifecycle email program that increases engagement, builds trust, and gets people where you want them to go.

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