Discover what drives your NPS today and in the future

Discover what drives your NPS today and in the future

Discover what drives your NPS today and in the future.

Erik Luijts, January 2022

By measuring your NPS, you have a clear view on your past performance, but do you know what really drives your NPS today and in the future?

Most service companies measure their NPS, their customer satisfaction or another metric to measure the strength of customer relationships. This is certainly the way to go, as the feedback can be used to manage processes and lift the customer experience (CX) to a higher level. However, measuring and monitoring NPS is not enough. Even worse: overly focusing on your current scores may lead to complaisance and overconfidence.

A classic example of how NPS or Csat does not relate to future success are video rental stores. The last video rental stores disappeared only a couple of years ago, despite the fact that their loyal customers were highly satisfied about the personal service they received. They were also recommending the service to others. Other example: Nokia is still selling (low end) phones and the users who buy them are mostly satisfied. Still, nobody would call the smartphone division of Nokia a success story in the past decade.  Also the opposite is true: customers of Hellofresh were almost as satisfied about this food retailer before the pandemic as they were after the pandemic. Still, the company’s stock value exploded after the pandemic, because “delivering food in a virus-safe way at your doorstep” turned from an irrelevant decision factor into an absolute “must-have”.

In sum, a high NPS or Csat score is a necessary but insufficient condition for being successful in the future. Two types of analysis should be added when studying NPS data:

A) a deeper understanding of what really drives your NPS today, by examining the relation between expectations and performance (or satisfaction) on service attributes

B) detecting what will drive your NPS in the future, by initiating complementary qualitative research

Let’s look at the details.

A) A deeper understanding of what really drives your NPS today, by examining the relation between expectations and performance (or satisfaction) on service attributes

Customer experience has a “time”-component. This means that when consumers buy or use a product or service, there is the moment before, during and after the act of buying or using.

  • Expectation: Before the act of buying or using, the consumer may have an expectation about a certain attribute (i.e. taste, level of competence, speed, …)
  • Experience: The touchpoint experience is what the consumer goes through during the act of buying or using.
  • Confrontation: Immediately afterwards or after a certain evaluation period, the initial expectation will be confronted with the reality of the experience. And this confrontation opens a wide variety of possible outcomes in the mind of the consumer. There will be an impact on the feeling about the product or service aspect itself and possibly on the total brand perception & overall satisfaction or NPS.

The confrontation between expectations and performance is already described well since the 1980’s by the well-known Kano model. The infographic illustrating this article is a new way of visualizing the Kano model. We prefer this visualization because it reflects the timed dimension better than the 2D mapping of Kano.

As an example, take the SONY wireless earbuds that I recently purchased.

Must-have: making phonecalls

Although I purchased these earbuds to listen to music, my implicit expectation was that I could also make phone calls with the earbuds. Not having this feature would have disappointed me so much that I would have sent them back to the retailer. Right after unpacking, I made a phone call to my son. It worked fine, so it just checked the box, without any emotion attached to it.

Performance factor: sound quality for music

I knew from reviews that the Sony WF-1000XM4 had excellent sound quality. When I tested the earbuds right after the purchase, I discovered that there was an extra 360° surround sound feature which really sounded incredible. So by trying out the earbuds, I became really enthusiastic, making it more likely that I will recommend it to my friends (= becoming a promoter)

Delight factor: muting voice while listening to music

When I was listening to loud music through the earbuds, my wife said something to me but I couldn’t understand her through the sound, so I said “wait, I don’t hear you”. To my surprise, the SONY earbuds recognized my voice and automatically muted the music volume while levelling up the ambient sound. Wow, this was really great: I could have a normal conversation without taking off the earbuds. When my conversation was over, the music restarted playing. I did not expect the earbuds to have these features, but when I discovered it during usage, I was even more excited about this product. My overall satisfaction increased.

DataSynergy has created a transparent “expectation – performance” analysis technique, which gives you an essential toolbox in hands to start categorizing all your product and service attributes:

  • “Key Dissatisfiers” are expected and/or desired attributes that drive overall dissatisfaction, but without impact on overall customer delight
  • “Key Enhancers” are attractive and/or desired attributes that drive overall delight (high levels of satisfaction), but do not lead to disappointment when omitted
  • “Satisfiers” are attributes that result in satisfaction when fulfilled AND that result in dissatisfaction when not fulfilled.

Based on your existing NPS survey data, DataSynergy can support you to categorize your customer journeys and product & service attributes into must-haves, performance factors and delight factors, without the obligation to adapt your survey questionnaires. Obviously, we can also design a complete Csat or NPS survey for you, from set-up to presentation of the results.

B) Detecting what will drive your NPS in the future, by initiating complementary qualitative research

NPS or customer satisfaction studies deliver effective metrics to evaluate past performance. However, in order to detect meaningful insights for the future, you need qualitative research, i.e. organizing in-depth conversations or group discussions with customers and prospects. You need the lengthy interview setting of qualitative research to build a context of trust with the participants. As soon as the respondent is at ease, a skilled qualitative interviewer knows how to probe for unmet needs, frustrations and surprising expectations. Detecting delight factors is like digging for gold. Statistical robustness becomes irrelevant in this context, because even one single respondent may give you a golden insight by laying an unexpected link, by explaining a metaphor or by delivering an “out-of-the-box” creative idea.

DataSynergy can support you in setting the right priorities for additional qualitative research that will allow you to discover the future drivers of your NPS.

Examples of research objectives of such a complementary qualitative study are:

  • How can we remove dissatisfaction in our performance factors?
  • How can we create more delight in our must-haves?
  • Which of our assumed delight factors are in reality ‘performance factors’ or even ‘must-haves’?
  • How can we make our customers save time in process X?
  • How can we extend our offer in an intuitive, logical way for the customer?
  • How can we delight our young customers on service X?
  • Which delight factors and performance factors are turning into must-haves?

Tailor the target group of your qualitative research to the hypothesis you are researching. For example: include expert users and promoters in your sample if you are studying new product extensions. They will be most likely to come up with golden insights. Or look beyond your customers when defining the target group and include front-line service staff, other employees, distributors or retail partners in the research to collect also “inside-out” opinions on the research topic.

In conclusion, a high NPS or Csat score is a necessary but insufficient condition for being successful in the future. In order to succeed in the future, customer-centric companies need to map their current service attributes on the “expectation-performance” relation to understand the rich dynamics that create the current NPS. They also need to challenge themselves by conversing with (potential) customers and scratch the surface for new delight factors, i.e. hidden needs that can be fulfilled in better ways than with the current products & services offer. The obtained insights from these conversations may be the start of the next scrum or Sprint process to develop new products & services in an agile organization.