Increasingly, I am asked whether Net Promoter is appropriate for employee surveys. The theory is that loyal employees create loyal customers, which in turn leads to financial benefits. Many people intuitively understand this connection. However, after many years in the employee research world, I realized the employee survey process ranks alongside performance reviews as an exercise in frustration (and futility) for all involved. Poorly run employee programs can have the same unfortunate results as poorly run customer programs – lack of executive engagement, line ownership, accountability, etc.
Several companies I am working with today are pursuing the path of Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS). These companies have been enthusiastic about Net Promoter for customers and believe that applying a similar methodology for employees will generate some great results. Generally (with only minor variation) they are asking, “How likely is it that you would recommend Company X to a friend as a place to work?” In one case, this is all they asked. Why? They wanted the survey to be perceived as dramatically different from their bi-annual 80-question employee opinion survey, which the organization was still trying to process 9 months later. Sound familiar? Their view was that the focused question would be collected more frequently and lend itself to taking a more operational approach for changing employee morale.
This is new territory for most companies. One customer asked whether I would expect their employee score to be better or worse than their customer NPS. In many examples I’ve looked at, the ENPS is worse – by up to 20 Net Promoter points. In one case, the company found that it was highly dependent on the regional leadership within their organization. Why this discrepancy? First, I believe employees who understand the business and customer strategy, as well as how they contribute to that strategy, are assets to improve customer loyalty. However, they also can be your company’s biggest critics, holding their employer to an extremely high standard. And why not? Companies promise to be the best places to work, create shareholder value, and create great customer experiences. For most employees, these promises represent the values that should be practiced on a daily basis. To the extent that the practice of these values is at odds with what they observe internally, employees will be less than loyal.
At the recent Net Promoter Conference in London, Alex Alfonso from Symantec discussed their customer journey through a period of dramatic change and transition as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Throughout these major transitions, Symantec was able to keep their core company values – innovation, action, trust, and a customer driven philosophy – intact. Alex articulated Symantec’s mission, which was to enable and empower individuals to create change in the business to improve customer experience. The mission brings together two key components, the employee and the customer, in one customer-driven strategy. And they are taking it seriously. Symantec’s three key metrics are Net Promoter Score, market share, and Employee Net Promoter Score.
It will be a growing trend for businesses building Net Promoter programs for customer experience also to understand what “Recommend” means for their employee experience. These experiences are interconnected—and only by moving toward more customer-focused employee feedback will employee loyalty move out of the human resource function and into the core of the customer experience strategy.