It is a little known fact that I used to work in Market Research. My portfolio included Brand Research, Customer Satisfaction Research and the occasional Employee Satisfaction survey. Given my background in Customer Research, naturally my curiosity was peaked when my employer moved from measuring customer satisfaction to implementing the Net Promoter System (NPS).
For those of you not familiar with NPS, it is a customer loyalty metric, developed by +Fred Reichheld and Bain & Co. NPS is measured by "the ultimate question": "On a Scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all likely and 10 is extremely likely, how likely are you to recommend [Company Name] to a friend or colleague?'. Responses are categorised into Promoters (scores of 9 and 10), Passives (scores of 7 and 8) and Detractors (scores of 6 or less). The percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors is the Net Promoter Score.
I was not aware there was a whole book on the topic until a colleague mentioned he had been reading the book behind the Net Promoter System, Fred Reichheld's The Ultimate Question 2.0. So of course I followed suit. While the book gave me quite an extensive list of ideas to follow up the one message that spoke to me the loudest was that "You can't create loyal customers without first creating loyal employees." or as I like to phrase it "happy teams lead to happy customers". The Ultimate Question 2.0 uses Apple Retail as a case study, citing a correlation between stores with high customer NPS scores and employee engagement scores and vice versa.
Fred's views on the value of Employee Engagement Surveys resonated with my own experience, "...the surveys were too long and too infrequent to drive change." He writes of NPS Leaders, choosing to implement an employee NPS (eNPS) process that was consistent with their customer NPS process by asking their employees: "On as scale of zero to ten, how likely is it you would recommend this company (or this store) as a place to work?" followed by an open ended question like "What are the primary reasons for your score?"
In my situation, the corporately sponsored annual Employee Engagement Surveys did not include team members employed by our vendor partners. This left me with an incomplete view and was inconsistent with the "vendor as partner" culture we aspired to. Inspired by what I had read in the, The Ultimate Question 2.0, I launched my quarterly team NPS survey, with a simple three question questionnaire administered via SurveyMonkey.
Our results have been nothing short of phenomenal. In 18 months we have moved from a -29 to a +53. I frequently get asked about how we did this and my response is usually "it starts with caring enough to ask". Of course there is more to it than that. Many of the activities and behaviours we used to build a culture of employee engagement are discussed in previous posts such as Leading Through Vulnerability, Book Clubs At Work and The Power of Haka.
The value in eNPS is not so much the numerical score as it is the feedback to the open ended question. In the beginning I used a singular open ended question regardless of rating. Now I use "What's the main reason you would recommend working in Strategic Delivery?" for promoters, for passives"What would it take for you to rate Strategic Delivery a 10? and for detractors "What is the main reason for your rating?". This has been very helpful in obtaining truly actionable insights. The feedback I have received from the open ended survey has been sometimes confronting, sometimes exceedingly pleasing. The key is to learn from it.
While the broader organisation still uses traditional Employee Engagement Surveys, more and more of my peers have implemented their own eNPS initiatives, inspired by the fast and frank feedback and the results achieved by acting upon it.
And yes, I can confirm, happy teams do lead to happy customers!