While I was checking out at a CVS the other day, the cashier asked me to do her a favor and complete a survey, circling a number on my receipt in the hopes that I would acknowledge the quality of her service on a designated website. And while she had done a competent job ringing up my Fisherman’s Lozenges and NyQuil, there was nothing extraordinary about our encounter, other than her request. Since this had also happened to me at a CVS in another state after an equally innocuous transaction, it was becoming clear that this is a CVS thing. Her manager likely asked her to ask customers like me to take a survey. Employee compensation may be at stake.
Investigating further, it appears CVS has reputational issues. According to CustomerGuru.com, CVS has a Net Promoter Score of -5, which as 99% of marketers know is a really, really bad rating. That’s in the vicinity of Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Sky—telecommunications companies that rarely find advocates. But here’s the bigger issue: asking more customers to provide feedback, particularly using NPS, won’t solve CVS’ reputational problem, diagnose the underlying causes, or motivate employees to do much more than aggressively ask for kudos even when it’s unwarranted.
The appeal of simple metrics
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of simple metrics. In fact, my next book will prescribe three blended metrics, one for each of your primary targets (employees, customers and prospects). And for the record, I don’t have a problem with NPS as a component of your customer metric. It’s easy to obtain, and there are normative scores for categories and major brands to compare your company to. My major issue with NPS is that when organizations over-emphasize its use, it doesn’t always drive the behavior they were hoping to elicit.
Actions drive satisfaction
About a week after the encounter I described above, I stopped at the same CVS for some Mother’s Day cards. My wife and I have a tradition of finding the sappiest cards and then making the other read them out loud without laughing. Sure enough, I found a couple of humdingers and proceeded happily to a waiting cashier. This one, without prompting, scanned a coupon code saving me $2.00 and funny enough, she did not circle the survey info on the receipt nor ask me to go to the survey website. Nevertheless, her unsolicited helpfulness compelled me to do so.
Revisiting customer satisfaction metrics for B2B brands
In the quest for demonstrable impact, many B2B brands have adopted NPS, and several CMOs I’ve interviewed have touted an increase in NPS as proof of marketing effectiveness. Part of me says, that’s cool. When marketing adds value to the customer experience, NPS should go up. Except that CEOs and board of directors want marketing to drive revenue and margin, which we all know are lagging metrics. For these folks, we need a metric that somehow reflects the business impact of CSAT and is a bit more predictive.
Finding a new customer metric
My ambition is to help B2B marketers identify a new CSAT metric that is as easy to understand as NPS and passes muster in the boardroom. This metric most likely is a blended one that includes a couple of soft metrics like NPS, engagement/advocacy and actual referrals, as well as harder ones like upsell rates, if applicable, and defections/churn. The idea here is that you’d weight these components, add them up and track them on at least a quarterly basis. And voila—a new metric that is both simple in appearance and predictive of the business value of truly satisfied customers.
If you have such a metric and/or think having one would be of value to you, please let me know. It’s the missing piece of my upcoming book, The Ridiculously Simple Playbook for B2B Innovators.