What is the right target for response rates for a high-quality NPS survey process? That was the question I was asked at the recent Net Promoter Conference in New York City. Prior to this conference, I would have answered that response rates between 30% and 60% seem like a reasonable goal for a well-designed relationship survey. Now, I am convinced that these targets (which many consider radically aggressive) are actually far too low.
When Barry Saik, VP of Product Management at Intuit, described in his general session presentation how Intuit had achieved response rates of more than 90% in their latest TurboTax product, I felt like we all had been treated to a glimpse of the future. The Intuit product team had designed their survey request (and follow-up process) as an integral component of the customer experience, not some afterthought slapped together and executed through an unrelated process.
Lots of companies now map out the customer experience that they want to deliver. They design a reliable process for delivering value through key touch points or moments of truth. What most of them forget is that feedback communications between the company and its customers represent vital moments of truth. The survey request itself, any immediate response (either a “thank you” or service recovery, if needed), and a timely explanation of what general lessons have been learned from customer inputs... all of these represent key touch points that deserve to be carefully mapped and consistently executed.
Six Sigma experts who uncover scrap rates of 40% realize that they have discovered a process that is wildly out of control and is consequently generating enormous direct and indirect costs for the company and for customers. This is the situation with survey response rates of 60% (since the other 40% of survey requests are being scrapped/ignored).
During Barry’s presentation, I began to recognize that the millions of unanswered surveys generate costs that far exceed the direct phone or mail investments. They are like the excess inventory that drives up costs, and hides sloppy management practices that a Toyota-quality process cannot tolerate. In fact, they are even worse because this inventory also has a pollution effect. These scrapped surveys are, in essence, a negative advertising campaign which alienates customers who perceive these requests as inappropriate and presumptuous–a waste of precious time.
What is the right response rate for a top notch NPS survey process? I am betting that the right target exceeds 90%! And that while today this may seem like a radical target, in a few years we will be looking back in amazement that such a sloppy and out-of-control process, one that so directly touches customers and influences their relationships, was tolerated for so long.
Note: We would love to hear your comments if you have found ways to improve response rates in a way that improves the overall quality of your customers’ experience.