Paul Marsden

About Dr. Paul Marsden

  • Dr. Paul Marsden, a market researcher specializing in brand advocacy and innovation, is a director at online brainstorming agency clickadvisor. Previously with Enterprise LSE, the commercial arm of the London School of Economics, Dr. Marsden led the team that validated the link between the Net Promoter Score and business performance in the UK. With more than 15 years of research experience, including work with Astra-Zeneca, Dr. Marsden co-founded online research agency Brainjuicer.com and works with leading brands including LVMH, Bacardi, Coty, Nokia, T-Mobile and Unilever. Author of Connected Marketing and a PhD in word of mouth communication, Dr. Marsden is on the advisory boards of Word of Mouth Marketing Association and the Viral and Buzz Marketing Association.

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Comments

Rebecca Secor

Thank you for this post! We are just beginning our NPS adventure, this is just the kind of tool that will really help us through implementation.

Just curious...in the Wall of Words exercise, the question "What specifically, would you tell a friend if you had to convince them to try your product or service?" is indicated as both question one and two. Is that an error, or are we looking to have them write down their top two reasons to recommend our product?

Net Promoter Community

Rebecca. Thank you for catching the omission of a word. The second sentence you reference has been corrected in the copy above. The word "not" was missing. This is how the sentence now reads:

"What specifically, would you tell a friend if you had to convince them NOT to try your product or service?"

Diane Koepke

Great information--thanks for sharing this. A couple of questions (1) Have you had success implementing this within a B2B environment--specifically with channel partners as well as end users and (2) If yes, to question 1--what if anything would you do differently than the example you provided above. (3) Did you provide any compensation for the participants? I am quite interested in giving this a try.
Thank you!

Net Promoter Blogmaster:

Diane. Paul Marsden is away on a business trip, but will reply next week. Thanks.

Paul Marsden

Hi Diane, thanks for your pertinent questions.

Yes, we've run Listening Labs in B2B, using the same exercises - but what changes is the tone of the labs.

Q 1 + 2 What changes in B2B Listening Labs

Whilst we recommend treating participants of B2C Listening Labs as consumer advisors (rather than classic research respondents), we think this is absolutely necessary in B2B - you need to position the participants as external advisors, not research respondents. This encourages participation among busy people, and help get better 'business' focused real-world feedback rather than wish-lists.

Whilst the exercise remained the same - the content of the second 'power-blobbing' exercise changes:

i.e.

a) Wall of words - reasons to recommend, reasons not to recommend, top improvement
b) Power-blobbing - experiential touch points meet, beat or miss expectations (these will differ based on what you are selling)
c) Association game - emotional NPS drivers

3. Offering compensation?

We find that offering 'karma points' - donation to charity of the participant's choice, works best for one-off listening labs (we of course cover travel expenses, ideally sending a limo to collect participants (this raises stature of the session in the mind of participants). In some cases, where Listening Labs become a regular event, with the participating 'advisors' - a small annual stipend ($2500) (and their own business cards) for 4 sessions for being members of an 'EXTERNAL ADVISORY BOARD'. Again, this adds gravitas to the 'board' both internally (to get C-level buy-in to recommendations, and among participating 'board' members who take the exercise seriously).

Hope this helps! Let me know how you get on!

Best, Paul

Melissa

This concept is very interesting to me - one that I have given some thought to as I assume my new role as Director of Customer Loyalty in a company that is starting to embrace NPS as a part of our corporate culture.

My question to you is that we have several clients within a single client company. Do you think the listening lab would be more effective if we were to combine different clients from multiple client companies, or should we limit it to the clients within each single client company? OR will they feel more like advisors if they were able to meet some of our key players from our other clients? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Also, thanks for the tip on 9K! I have had similar experiences on some of my trips across the US and Europe!

Regards,
Melissa

Paul Marsden

Hi Melissa, great question!

Should you mix up participants from different client companies in Listening Labs... The answer is a qualified yes; if your clients are all (profitable) promoters, and if they buy more or less the same thing from you.

Why is mixing it up a good idea? Three reasons.

One - if your clients are all profitable promoters buying the same thing, they'll be pretty much on the same page - which is invaluable for group dynamics when unpacking reasons to recommend and priorities for improvement.

Two, as Fred notes in The Ultimate Question - one of the key strategies for improving NPS is to create a platform where clients can help and interact with each other (e.g. eBay power sellers forums etc); Listening Labs are just such a platform. If you are seen as facilitating this exchange through Listening Labs, then propensity to recommend will improve.

Three, and as you correctly point out, the Lab will have more gravitas if multiple clients are together (and ensure that it is not seen as a Client Relations stunt). In fact, we find the more you can position the Listening Lab as a formal advisory session, the more you and they get out of it. (in B2B we call ongoing Listening Labs (where clients come for a series of Labs) 'Independent Advisory Boards' - and host them onsite, and if possible, in an actual boardroom).

The only caveat in all this is that I'd warn against mixing up detractors with promoters - or clients who you sell different things to (or for a different price!) - as negative mood is very infectious, and what one detractor says may be irrelevant to another!

Of course, this doesn't mitigate the usefulness of running Listening Labs with (profitable) detractors - indeed you should - as Fred points out, a detractor may have 3x impact of a promoter on your growth - so you need to really understand those reasons to detract!

Hope this helps, let us know how you get on!

Paul

Melissa

Paul,

Thank you for the quick response. You definitely have validated my thoughts/concerns - I agree it is very important to have listening labs with like minded and similar service offering clients for sure!

Though, I am definitely interested in doing one geared towards Detractors just hesitant as to how to engage it - likewise, I am thinking we may want to do one for Passives to find out why we are "vanilla" too them - as I find that this category can be sizable from client to client - do you know what the "norm" is for the Passives? In terms of overall make up for companies using NPS?

Thank you for all of your insight!

Regards,
Melissa

Paul Marsden

Hi Melissa, we found in the UK that passives make up about about 50% of all buyers.

Agree that listening to this big group is worthwhile as well - although I'd focus on high value passives only. In these listening labs, my advice would be to focus on identifying where you can profitably beat their expectations (and thereby upgrade them to promoters!)

Let us know how you get on!

Best, Paul

Katarzyna

Hi Paul,
I like your idea of engaging clinets in an NPS workshop session.
I have a few comments/questions:
1. In the description of a workshop you say the participants are - a group of promoters and a group of detractors. However in one of your comments you say you do not recommend mixing the two. Do you suggest then making two separate sessions for promoters and for detractors? If so, what would be the difference in running sessions?
2. the most valuable source of information on your business is the group of detractos, isn't it? But while gathering a group of detractors you expose yourself to a high risk of escalating negative emotion. How do you suggest managing those emotions during such a session. Is Q2 in the first exercise needed? Isn't Q3 revealing the same kind of information as Q2 but in a possitive way?
3. Do you find detractors willing to come to the sessions? what is your experience in dealing with detractors during sessions or in any other way? Have they become promoters after a while?

thanks!
Katarzyna

Paul Marsden

Hi Katarzyna, thanks for the questions.

Let's take them one by one

Q. In the description of a workshop you say the participants are - a group of promoters and a group of detractors. However in one of your comments you say you do not recommend mixing the two. Do you suggest then making two separate sessions for promoters and for detractors? If so, what would be the difference in running sessions?

A. Yes, we usually run two workshops - a group of promoters and a separate group of detractors. Why? because they have different concerns and they are likely to irritate each other. Some people do like to run "conflict groups" as they are called (putting promoters and detractors together) - but in my experience they tend to attack each other - rather than stick to the session!

Q. The most valuable source of information on your business is the group of detractors, isn't it? But while gathering a group of detractors you expose yourself to a high risk of escalating negative emotion. How do you suggest managing those emotions during such a session.

Yes, what your detractors are saying about you is important - if they do/could spend lots of money with you. Unprofitable detractors are low priority. (My next post will be whether to prioritise focus on promoters or detractors). And yes, there is a small risk that participants will reinforce each others views and create a negative image -but there is a powerful psychological principle at work that will help you. When you ask people for advice, and actively listen to them - they'll start to like you, and feel positive about you. And if you frame the session properly - saying you're looking for constructive ideas for how to be better - then you should be fine!

Q. Is Q2 in the first exercise needed? Isn't Q3 revealing the same kind of information as Q2 but in a possitive way?

A. This is a good point - if you're tight on time you could skip the "What specifically, would you tell a friend if you had to convince them NOT to try your product or service?" question. But it is different to the "priority for improvement" question because it's a role playing question that captures actual words people would use - this is important because word of mouth is key, and you can learn a lot from the words people use when explaining to a friend why your product or service sucks. Sometime how someone says something is more revealing than what they say.

Q. Do you find detractors willing to come to the sessions? what is your experience in dealing with detractors during sessions or in any other way? Have they become promoters after a while?

A. Detractors love listening labs - one of the biggest drivers of detraction is frustration with not being listened to. When we do followup measurement - the very fact they've participated makes them less of a detractor. But to turn them into a promoter - you have to listen and act on what they say!

Hope this helps - Let us know how you get on!

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