Verizon gets it.
We all understand that the wireless telecom business (and for that matter all forms of the telecoms business) is brutally competitive. Not every firm is taking the same path to address these challenges, but it’s worth reflecting on some of the lessons from Verizon’s focus on NPS.
First, I can’t comment on the other US telecom companies and their approach, I haven’t seen any good information. We did see a presentation from one of Verizon’s biggest domestic competitors that suggested they have been fighting an internal battle over the definition of the “perfect metric”. In this instance, the evidence seemed to point to the management team voting in a metric that was less “volatile” than NPS (i.e. less risk to bonus payouts). Regardless of the merit to shareholders or customers of this approach, it has to warm the hearts of Verizon staff everywhere to believe that a rival is spending it’s time focused on an internal research conflict while they have been getting on with the business of creating promoters. And they have been getting on with it.
A panel of front line Verizon staff made a perfect case for the Net Promoter discipline. This group, drawn from sales, customer support and local management of contact centers and retails stores, waxed lyrically about the impact Net Promoter has had on their jobs:
“We ARE NPS” - it’s how the company represents itself to the world.
“75% of issues have turned out to be resolvable on closed loop action”
“Customer first has become a way of life – and NPS the essential tool”
“Management has demonstrated a willingness to take clear action based on customer feedback. That motivates employees and delights customers”
“Positive comments are shared and become a huge motivator”
“An effective mechanism for coaching my team and being coached”
The focus here has clearly been on getting front line staff engaged with the program and integrated with the culture of the organization. Now, I know the skeptics amongst you are probably thinking this was all for show, but I’m thinking otherwise. The most amazing thing about the presentation was the convincing sincerity of the staff. So what’s the lesson here? In a similar fashion to what we learned in Rome, while some companies choose to fight internal battles over research metrics, others get on with creating promoters in the field – where it matters. Judge for yourself who the winners are likely to be.
We asked one member of the sales team “would you fight to keep the NPS program? What part of it would you fight for?”
“All of it”
P.S. I did my friends at Bain a disservice by not mentioning this event was their NPS Loyalty Forum. It's an executive group that shares best practices around NPS programs, includes Fred Reichheld and is both unique and highly valuable.