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The Fables Of Actionable CustomerSatisfaction & Loyalty Data

  • The Fables Of Actionable CustomerSatisfaction & Loyalty Data

    …Once upon a time, there was a CEO who wanted to make sure her customers bought more from her company than from any other company. She wanted her customers to prefer her company’s products and services more than any others in the marketplace. And she wanted to know for certain that these loyal customers would never, ever consider buying from a competitor.

    And while she certainly trusted her instincts, she wanted facts. She wanted to be surer than sure. So one day she decided to look for help. Someone who could provide facts and figures. A trustworthy guide to tell her the truth about how her customers felt and, more importantly, give her the secrets for how to make her products and services even better. She wanted ACTIONABLE data.

    So off she went, down the lane, to visit some of her best friends. “They’ll know what to do,” she chuckled.

    …Nettie & The Definitive Number

    Her first stop was her new friend Nettie who told her, “You simply must try NPS®; that’s short for Net Promoter Score®” She thought for a while and then thought some more and, feeling a bit confused, she asked, “What’s NPS®?” And Nettie replied, “It’s really quite simple – so simple that a mere child could use it.” And Nettie quickly drew a colorful mathematical equation to illustrate just how simple this magical formula was.

    So she thought a little longer. And when she finished, she exclaimed, “You mean all I have to do is subtract two numbers – the detractors from the promoters – and I’ll know how my customers feel?” And Nettie chirped, “Yes, that’s all. And maybe use a little intuition.” And to that she said, “But what does the number mean. And what can I do if the number isn’t what I was hoping for?” To which Nettie triumphantly said, “Don’t fret. All you must do is trust your own senses. You know. Use a little intuition. Everyone does these days.”


    Nettie was always such a good friend. But she wanted to think more about this fanciful NPS trick. Or at least visit another friend.

    So she made haste to the next house on the block to visit her oldest friend, JD. JD had been helping many others like her for a long, long time. And he seemed to know her predicament before he even opened the door to greet her. “You’re here to learn about THE PRIZE, aren’t you?” And she quizzed him, “The prize?” JD quipped, “Not any prize, but THE PRIZE. The one given to those companies that have the best scores.”

    Now she was really befuddled. “What are the best scores and how does anyone actually know that they’re the best scores?” Now JD was confused. “You mean you don’t know about THE POWERFUL PRIZE?” He continued, “Everyone knows about THE POWERFUL PRIZE. It’s everywhere you look. You only need to have the best score and, for a pittance, the great and powerful prize givers give you the trophy AND they let you show the prize and tell others that you’ve won it.”

    “But I’m still confused. How do I get the best number?” To which JD whispered, “That’s not for you know. And besides, all that really matters is if you’re number ONE. If you’re not number ONE, who really cares?”

    “But can I still have happy customers that will buy from me even if I’m not number ONE and regardless of whether I win THE PRIZE?” He didn’t answer. So she said, “If I’m not number ONE, can the Powerful prize givers tell me how to become number ONE?” He leaned and whispered more softly, “Oh sure – but it might cost you a little more for those answers.”

    She said goodbye to her friend JD and went on her way. “Let’s see” she thought to herself. Nettie said all I need is one simple number. JD told me it’s not just one number but the BEST number and THE PRIZE.

    …Itssoobvious & The Numbers Are As Clear As The Nose On Your Face

    She was sure that her friend Itssoobvious would help her make sense of this mess. While it always seemed his advice was straightforward and common sense, it always sounded better when he said it.

    She rang the doorbell again and again, but still no Itssoobvious. She was about to give up and go back home when he suddenly threw open the window shouting, “Hello my good friend. What brings you my way today?”

    She said, “I’m so glad to see you. I’m awfully confused. I need proof – real proof – that my customers are happy, loyal, and believe that our company is the best. I want to know why and how. I need to have details and actionable data. Does that seem like a lot to ask for?”

    Itssoobvious thought for a moment and said, “I don’t think so. But why are you confused? It’s so obvious,” and he laughed at the pun he’d made.

    “Really?” she exclaimed! “Then you can point me in the right direction?”

    Itsoobvious said, “Absolutely. You’ll know it when you see it.”

    “Come again?” she said.

    “Actionable data about customer satisfaction – you’ll know it when you see it,” he repeated. He could see she was still befuddled.

    So he drew a cartoon of some people – who looked like they were blindfolded – touching an elephant. The picture reminded her of a game of pin the tail on the donkey! He said, “Actionable data. It’s just like that old fable about the people and the elephant. They all feel different parts of the elephant and can’t really describe what it is; but when the blindfolds are removed, they know what it is. Do you get it? They know it when they see it!”

    Bewildered she said, “Not really.”

    Itssoobivious continued, “The numbers you’re looking for are like the elephant – you’ll know them when you seen them! And, there’s no need to spend lots of money doing fancy customer surveys.”

    The Moral Of The Story

    Current approaches to measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty often leave a great deal to be desired when it comes to actionable data. They stress scores; but don’t identify the key drivers that improve performance and increase customer loyalty. And, therefore, those charged with making a positive difference in the customer experience are frequently left wanting when it comes to building a business case through voice of the customer survey data.

    What is actionable data?

    We’ll explore the elements of actionable data and some alternative approaches to getting a better ROI for customer experience investments in coming posts.

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