Are you using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge the health of your accounts? If you are, we have some bad news for you: the NPS is the absolute last measure that you should use for key account management. In fact, we might go as far as to say measuring your client’s happiness in inches is better than the NPS (only kidding).
But while the NPS has seen its popularity come and go, it’s important to discuss why it’s the wrong tool for key account management, what is a better tool, and how you can implement it into your daily workflow. When you use the right tools to measure client happiness, success, and outcomes, you can take a more proactive approach to your account planning and see faster results than with a simple, outdated metric.
How NPS Works
The NPS first made a splash back in 2003 after the Harvard Business Review posted an article about this new ground-breaking, growth-hacking, mind-reading way that companies could use to find out how happy their customers were with their products or services. The beauty in it and perhaps the primary driver behind its lightning popularity was how simple and easy it is. Basically, companies would send out a survey to customers asking them how likely they are to recommend their products or services to a friend or colleague. That’s it.
Respondents are asked to rank their answers on a scale from 0 to 10. People that answer 0 through 6 are detractors, people from 7 to 8 are passives, and 9 to 10 are promoters. Basically, the whole NPS theory hinges on the belief that if you can turn all of those answers into 9’s and 10’s, you’re in the money.
For an overall NPS, a company takes the total percentage of promoters and subtracts the total percentage of detractors. The range of the NPS goes from -100 to +100. For example, if you have promoters making up 60% of customers and detractors taking 10%, your NPS would be +50. Easy enough, right? Here is where we get into the main problems with this quick math.
The Problems with NPS
First and foremost, it’s worth mentioning that the authors and creators of NPS didn’t conduct the test with any B2B companies or industries but rather the following traditionally b2c industries: financial services, auto insurance, personal computers, cable and telephony, e-commerce, and ISPs. So, for that reason alone, it’s clear that the NPS wasn’t really developed for companies in our sectors.
Secondly, numbers aren’t always what they seem, and with a generalized score like NPS, it’s crazy to think that two companies with the same score are performing the same way. Take this for example: Let’s say you’re comparing two companies that both have an NPS of +60. One company reached this NPS by having 70% promoters, 20% passives, and 10% detractors, while the other one had 60% promoters, 40% passives, and 0% detractors. While it looks like both companies based on their NPS alone are doing an equally decent job, the fact is the NPS isn’t accounting for the people that are neither here nor there on their experience, and that can be a big problem in the long run.
Finally, perhaps our main problem with relying exclusively on NPS is that it’s an after-the-fact way of measuring how happy a customer is with your services and products and in the key account management game, you need to be in the here and now, not asking how they felt after the experience – they might be heading for the door by then!
You Need to Be in the Here and Now
NPS is a quick and easy way for managers to know whether they’re headed in the right or wrong direction with their services. This is fine if you are in a business where you don’t expect return customers but instead rely on past customers to refer or recommend your products or services. However, key account management is a long game, and it’s all about relationships, so you can’t rely on simple after-the-fact questions like “would you recommend us?” to gauge the health of an account – you need more information than that, and you need it now!
Take your account plan for example – it’s not just a static document you create once and then shove in a drawer. Rather, it’s a living, breathing game plan that you follow along the way to your client’s goals, adjusting the goal posts, and strategy along the way. If you were to base your account planning on the NPS alone, then you’re moving blindly and missing out on a ton of opportunities to provide better results for your customers.
In this day and age, the last question of any experience or satisfaction survey is the NPS question, so it’s not like your customers are thrown off guard, but as a true key account management team, you can surely do better. Ideally, yes, you’ll have a positive NPS, but if you don’t, it’s probably too late to fix it. For this reason alone, you need to go further in your customer satisfaction research tools and stop relying on a singular number to tell you how well you’re doing as a client manager.
You Have Too Much to Lose
Imagine you’re one of the (unfortunately) many account management departments out there that hold meetings discussing how they’re going to reallocate resources away from the department because the NPS is high – how sad would that be when your company realizes that NPS was telling a different story.
Higher-ups assumed that the key account management team could lighten up because the NPS wasn’t bad, but they didn’t consider how many passive customers you had. Besides that, no organization should make big decisions like this based on a single data metric alone in the first place!
To put it simply, your key account management team has too much to lose to use the NPS system. It works maybe for the case of finding about how your customer felt about you in the past, but as a strategic partner, the NPS question is not enough for you to make educated decisions, fixes, and moves within the account with thousands if not millions of dollars on the line.
So, what are you supposed to do about it? What is a better way to get deeper, and in the present with your feedback? Let’s get into it.
First thing’s first, you need to stop relying on asking NPS type questions after the fact. Instead, you need to be proactive. We harp on being proactive a ton here at Kapta, but there’s a reason. That reason is because it separates the great key account managers from the ordinary, disposable vendors that so many of your clients are used to working with.
Instead of sitting back and waiting for a negative NPS to come in before you rush to care about how your customer is feeling, you should conduct Voice of Customer interviews with your sponsors and executives right away. We mean it. If you haven’t had one in a while, you should schedule one as soon as they are available because they could be browsing for new vendors this whole time.
After the initial interview, you should collate their responses using the VOC Insights tool within Kapta to have a record of how it went and plan for your next step. Do this for each of your accounts and work with the rest of the team to ensure that they are on the same page as well. After the initial VOC interview, you should work with the client to schedule and set up a VOC interview every 90 to 120 days.
You can do them sooner, and if there is more work to do on this account than anticipated, it would be wise to do so. Other than that, having regular meetings to provide an update and see how things are going is a good approach to follow and will bring you up to speed much better than if you were only asking the NPS question after the QBR (don’t get us started on QBRs).
So, now you’ve made the choice to be more proactive and actually ask your customers how they feel about the job you’re doing before it’s too late, now it’s time to be more strategic with these interviews. With the VOC interview booked, you need to think carefully about what you want to ask them. Remember, everyone’s time is important, but your client’s time is the most valuable, so don’t waste any of it if you can help it.
The reality is, however, you can ask any question that falls under the account’s umbrella and the progress that you’ve made so far with them. Use this as a way to discover what they expect most out of the partnership with your organization and what their best case scenario is. You should also inquire about how you could improve your services and if they have any specific communication preferences, whether it’s the timing or method.
Whatever the case is, make sure that you’re using the Kapta VOC tool and recording their answers accurately, but don’t let that distract you from actually listening to their answers so you can ask follow up questions or clarifying their answers fully. With their questions recorded, you can now take action and work on their account with information about their specific needs, wants, goals, problems, and challenges.
It’s this process of asking about their needs or worries in the present rather than if they’ll recommend you that makes you a Trusted Advisor. You’re no longer looking in the rear view mirror wondering what you did wrong but in the here and now, listening to your clients and implementing strategies that will help them achieve success thanks to you.
Are you still relying on the NPS? Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ve seen that it’s not the answer and is most definitely not a reliable metric to base your key account management program on. Don’t be one of the many account management teams that holds the NPS as the one be-all-end-all metric to measure their success – you’re better than that.
With a full-fledged VOC program enabled and best practices set up, you and the rest of the account management team can use your client time more wisely and actually make progress on their accounts by asking how they’re doing and getting to the bottom of their problems. No more waiting for the client to tell you they won’t recommend you – make them recommend you through the quality of your account services.
How Kapta Can Help
Kapta is an all-in-one enterprise key account management platform that enables you to do more for your biggest clients. Rather than being stuck switching between app to app, Kapta offers all of the tools that key account managers need in one place. With this convenience in mind, by integrating Kapta into your daily workflow, you can spend less time bogged down in spreadsheets and more time talking to your clients and building and nourishing your relationship with the people that matter most to your business. Built for key account managers by key account managers, Kapta takes the CRM model and elevates it with premium features like Voice of Customer (VOC) Insights and the account health score feature, so you know where you stand with your accounts at any moment.
To try a free demo of Kapta, schedule one here.