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Working for nines and tens

Ben Goldstein on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

“On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this business to a friend or colleague?”

You’ve probably been asked this question before. But have you ever wondered why businesses ask it, and what they do with the feedback they receive?

The answer is actually a lot simpler than you’d think. It’s called a Net Promoter Score (NPS), and it’s a management tool that gauges customer satisfaction toward a brand.

“The big advantage to using NPS is that it’s a very well researched methodology that can be compared and contrasted with other organizations,” said Kent Oyler, president and CEO at Greater Louisville Inc. “It shows us who our supporters and detractors are, and we get to hear what both groups are saying about our programs and events.”

At GLI, the measure is used to track member and event satisfaction, both of which have emerged as key performance indicators on the chamber’s dashboard.

“Because we ask the same questions after every event, we can track our performance over time and figure out how to improve,” said Oyler. “NPS reminds us that neutral and detractor members and attendees are damaging to our organization when their complaints go unanswered.”

Net Promoter Score helps the chamber identify which events are succeeding and which aren’t. It also provides qualitative feedback in the form of complaints and suggestions, to help the chamber identify and modify persistent problem areas.

“Typically, events with a specific focus perform better than broader topics,” explained Shawna Burton, vice president of engagement and organizational advancement at GLI. Among the best performing events for the chamber have been Executive Session, an invite-only dinner for new Louisvillians, and the Top Investor series, which provides high-level keynotes on timely topics.

A low score doesn’t automatically mark the end of an event, but it is one of the main factors along with “mission fit, relevancy, profitability and staff time,” said Burton. “Our small business awards will be completely revamped this year because of low scores,” she said, adding: “Just last week, we nixed our webinar series, in part because of stubbornly low NPS scores.”

One of the advantages of NPS is its ability to rank customer support levels among members, enabling the chamber to drill down by business size, industry and other attributes.

“From an event perspective, our biggest supporters are Top Investors, because they seem to understand the organization best,” said Burton. “The biggest detractors usually provide feedback on logistical improvements such as AV issues or room temperature—mostly issues that we can fix for the future.”

The chamber shares NPS feedback with all staff members involved in the event planning process. For larger events, it holds “debrief meetings” to discuss what went right, as well as areas for improvement. For signature events like its Annual Meeting, GLI examines the previous year’s NPS feedback during the first planning session to better focus on correcting past shortcomings. 

NPS was introduced by author and business strategist Fred Reichheld in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article “One Number You Need to Grow,” and has since been adopted by more than two thirds of Fortune 500 companies. The score is claimed by its proponents to be correlated with increased revenue growth.

The NPS scale runs from -100 to +100, and positive scores are generally considered good. As an organization, GLI went from -13 in 2015 to +9 in 2016, and aims to hit +16 by 2017.

“The only downside is that when you start using it, there aren’t clear benchmarks around what is ‘good’ performance for chambers and events—is it a 40 or an 80?” asked Oyler.

Learn more about Net Promoter Score here.

Tags: Dashboard, Greater Louisville Inc., Key Performance Indicators, Management, Net Promoter Score

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