If you are one of the increasing number of companies adopting the NPS as a corporate objective, then your salary may already be linked to improvements in your company's Net Promoter Score (NPS). But here's a technique anyone can use to get a salary rise using the psychology behind the NPS.
To describe the technique – known as the Hawthorne Effect – it's best to go back in time… to the 1920's, and to the Hawthorne production plant of Western Electric, just outside Chicago. Researchers from MIT and Harvard were investigating the link between working conditions at the Hawthorne plant and employee productivity. To do this, they tested a number of new working conditions, inviting employees to give their opinion on whether they should be rolled out. The researchers found that whatever it was they asked employees to feedback on, employees recommended it.
For example, when employees were asked what they thought of brighter lighting in the factory, they recommended it, and when asked to trial it, their productivity increased. However, when employees were asked for their advice and feedback on subtler lighting conditions, they recommended that too, and productivity increased. Confused, the investigators re-ran the research, progressively dimming the lighting, but participants remained loyal to whatever it was they were asked about, and productivity kept increasing until the light was no brighter than moonlight! The peculiar effect was confirmed in a separate round of research, this time asking for employee advice on shorter and then longer working hours. Again, whatever it was that employees were asked their opinion about, they recommended it.
The researchers finally realized that what was happening had absolutely nothing to do with what they were asking people their opinion about, and everything to do with asking them for their opinion. They called this effect the Hawthorne Effect: the effect of asking people for their advice on creating loyalty and advocacy. What was happening was that the research participants felt flattered and privileged to be involved in research on a new initiative – and this biased their view towards whatever it was they were testing.
For nearly a century, the Hawthorne Effect has been something of a bane in customer research; it systematically occurs and biases research findings towards whatever is being tested. In focus groups, the Hawthorne Effect can be extremely strong – after 90 minutes of involvement in a new product concept, participants often leave the group passionate advocates of what they have been asked their advice on. So asking people for their advice increases recommend-ability; i.e., NPS. But what's this got to do with getting yourself a salary rise?
To see the power of the Hawthorne Effect for yourself, try using it to get a salary rise. Rather than asking your boss for the salary rise you no doubt deserve directly, first ask them for their advice on something. It doesn't matter what it is you ask advice on (new shoes to buy, where to go on vacation, restaurant to visit...), the important thing is to be seen to be listening to them, and then thanking them for their valued advice. Then hit them with the request for a salary rise. The chances are that treating your boss as your personal advisor, you will have triggered the Hawthorne Effect and they'll be significantly more likely to agree to your salary rise request. By asking them for their opinion you will have not only created goodwill but also flattered their ego, and at a subconscious level, they will feel indebted to you. This psychological indebtedness makes them significantly more likely to agree to whatever it is you are asking of them!
Of course, the Hawthorne Effect is also a quick and powerful way to boost your company's NPS. Simply set up a customer advisory board and invite your most profitable customers to offer their advice on your strategy, product or marketing. Do it online, and you can make the Hawthorne Effect not only fast but also cost-effective and scalable, creating an army of 'promoters' because you are listening to what they have to say. In the B2C sector, Procter and Gamble are doing this on an unprecedented scale and have recruited more than 750,000 consumer advisors in the US to their two online consumer advisory panels. Regular emails ask consumer advisors for their advice on anything from new product concepts to whether a blonde or a brunette should appear in the next ad. The panels generate insight, loyalty and advocacy – are reported to boost sales by up to 30%! For a quick solution to boosting your NPS, think Hawthorne Effect.