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When Personal Best is Not Enough! The Missing Competitive Link in NPS.

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“Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.” Abe Gubegna (The Fable of the Lion and the Gazelle)

Early-stage NPS Programs have forgiven for certain myopia about achieving “personal best” with their ratings. The focus is on just getting timely feedback from frontline staff and acting on it. More often this focus has rewarded with stellar results.

As NPS Programs mature, the early wins have won – results often start to plateau and breakthrough measures are called for. One obvious measure might be to go deeper – with more initiatives to discern the “root cause”. An often missed approach is to go broader and address the fundamental reality of your customer, they have a choice!

Rob Markey makes some important distinctions about measuring experiences, relationships and competitive benchmarks. You can read more about it from Bain & Co.

The competitive benchmarking that Rob Markey talks about is a “form of traditional market research” with rigour about a genuine double-blind “apples with apples”. In the comparison, there is no doubt about the value of this in providing market context and identifying strategic gaps for your brand. Markey points out that the focus of these periodic and lengthy (15-20 min) surveys is necessarily broad and the experience measures might only cover a “handful of moments of truth”.

I argue that whilst these traditional research surveys are valuable and have their place. There may be more value in driving this competitor’s view into touchpoint and episode NPS programs.

Let’s put “how” to one side and address “why”?

As a customer, your shopping experience at competing local department stores today & next week is an extremely valuable comparison. It can be as making an insurance claim with one brand and comparing it to the experience of your trusted friend with another brand at the office tomorrow. Or shopping for a new car in your local area over the month of May.

From the organisation’s viewpoint and in competitive markets allocating focus or resources to a branch or region without a competitor is sub-optimal and may be dangerous. It is in vain to collect regular feedback and improve the NPS of a local store – only to find a major blind spot that clouds your decisions.

You may celebrate your leading store only to find that they are out-traded by a customer-preferred local competitor. You might not even know why. Otherwise, placing too much (fixed) corporate focus or investment on a lowly NPS store performer who’s a top performer amongst its local competitors. The latter example can produce its own dysfunction or complacency. See Philip’s example from Ultimate Question 2.0 –  but the competitor lens is still critical in making the best decisions.

I will talk about “how” to introduce this competitor data in a future post.

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Jeff Carruthers

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