Friday, April 28, 2006
Lousy Customer Satisfaction-It’s a Global Phenomenon!
Digging around a bit after my earlier post on the Net Promoter Score methodology (“Customer Satisfaction Rates are Like So Last Week”) I found some more information on the application of the NPS and consumer attitudes toward company efforts at customer satisfaction and was amazed to discover just how poorly companies around the world – not just in the U.S.A. — are satisfying the needs of their customers. I was intrigued enough to track down NPS ratings of companies from other parts of the world. Apparently the average Net Promoter Score for US companies varies between +11% and +16%. The UK was the next highest at +3%, followed by Australia at –5%. Some research by Profusion International of 5,000 Western European consumers weighing in on the matter provided ratings over a much wider range and more tied to an industry: -6% NPS for the automotive industry and a whopping –48% for telecomm. At first glance, one could look at those numbers and say ‘wow most companies are doing a better job at meeting the needs of customers in the US than anywhere else’ — until you remember that with the Net Promoter Score any number below 50% means you have a lot of improvement to make!
On an individual basis, some of the big name companies you’d expect to have phenomenally avid word-of-mouth promoters based on traditional customer satisfaction ratings systems and good press (such as Southwest Airlines) were only slightly above average on the NPS scale: 51% for Southwest, according to a table of high performers on the Netpromoter.com web site. Even famously evangelized Apple Computer only scored 66%!
From my B2B standpoint it's equally distressing that only two of the 19 “top performers” listed could be considered pure B2B companies and neither one had an NPS greater than 66%. What does all of this mean? Are B2B companies not as good at creating brand advocates? Are they less concerned about cultivating strong corporate brands than B2C companies? While I've hardly put together a comprehensive world summary, if nothing else all of this does give the sense that there is ample room for improvement the world over. I’d love to hear if anyone has Net Promoter Score data for some other countries or continents not mentioned here.
Chief Marketer Interviews Fred Reichheld
Walter Carl. "Measuring WOM: Advocacy Drives Growth in UK Companies" Word-of-Mouth Communication Study Blog
NPS Top Performers
CEO Forum Australia
The European Centre for Customer Strategies
Saturday, April 15, 2006
RFID Dreams or How Google Will Take Over the World
Anyone working in the high-tech industry can’t help but be aware of Radio Frequency ID (RFID) Tagging. Despite a marketing and creative background, I’m also a closet IT aficionado, which means I’ve read enough of these RFID stories in EWeek and InformationWeek in recent years to make anyone’s eyes glaze over. This might be why I found myself daydreaming about what the trickle down benefit might be for the rest of us — after the shipping companies (for whom the benefit of knowing where the customer’s stuff is at any given time is obvious) are done with their implementations, once the cost of infrastructure upgrades comes down. Beyond business operations improvements, can any of this be turned to improving the results and tracking of b-to-b marketing initiatives so we can get a better grip on our customers?
Let’s say someday they’re able to increase the tag reader range by a huge leap from its current 20 feet. On that day I’d envision running out to my commercial printer to do a direct mailer using integrated circuit printing technology to lay a microthin (and nearly invisible) RFID tag right on the mail piece. I’d send the piece via snail mail to my prospect — some things don’t change, after all — but unlike my colleagues from the dark old days of ROI-challenged marketing, I’d be able to track exactly when (or if) my future customer opens the piece, because the RFID transmitter would be triggered to start radioing a unique serial number at the very instant the wafer seal on the mailer is broken. Of course, I’d be able to pick up that radioed serial number (and the latitude & longitude of the prospect) because the GoogleSat geolocation service (fresh out of beta from Google Labs!) would be able to read it from its constellation of satellites in orbit and relay it to my GoogleCRM account (Google Analytics after it eats Salesforce.com). Within minutes, a sales exec would be calling Joe Prospect up on his videophone to talk about how our services can help him with this or that. The only thing Mr. Prospect won’t be able to do is pretend he didn’t get the piece or that he isn’t in the office: the resolving power of Google Earth will let me zoom down to 3 feet and see that he’s trying to hide under his desk.
Can any of this fancy come to pass? Although they’re probably nice enough people, I don’t think I want Google to rule the world, but I sure would like to have the tools for such direct and immediate impact on building the opportunity pipeline at my disposal. Now if I could just get that flying car that’s been on backorder…
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Measuring the ROI of Social Networking for Business
Social networking sites like Friendster and Yahoo 360 are all the rage, but is there a business application lurking in there? Well maybe not with these consumer services, but some like LinkedIn and Ryze have been built specifically to cater to the needs of business people to connect with colleagues, prospects and customers. With a network of 5 million subscribers (slated to reach to 8-10 million by the end of 2006) and subscription rates of $20 to $200/month for an account that allows introductions outside one’s network, LinkedIn seems to have the potential for a successful business model. As a user of LinkedIn who has tested the site for prospect and competitive research, I was curious about the ROI possibilities of integrating it into the marketing mix as another channel for sales lead generation.
Using the data from my own LinkedIn Network and some quick math I performed an informal experiment. LinkedIn’s basic Business subscription costs about $239.40 per year and allows 15 simultaneous introductions per month (180 per year). Based on this, if I wanted to get introduced to all 11,000 of my contacts two degrees away, it would take me 61 years to reach them all — and $14,603.40! Even on the most robust Pro plan that allows 480 concurrent introductions per year (about $2400), it would still take almost 23 years to get introduced to everyone. Clearly this is not the most efficient way to reach a broad-based audience (and no, I don’t seriously believe anyone would think it was).
But kidding aside, as a targeted channel, LinkedIn and other business social networks like it may ultimately have some of the best ROI around: one closed business-to-business deal is likely to bring in sales worth many times the $2400/year LinkedIn’s Pro plan costs. That potential alone is worth the effort and small investment to pilot a business social networking tool’s use as part of a company’s marketing plan. As always, such an experiment will be most effective working in concert with business development — and preferably with account executives who already use and understand how to make the most of the tools.
Claburn, Thomas. “Social Networks Go Pro.” Information Week. March 27, 2006. pg. 55