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Beware the Magic Mirror of Self-Delusion

by Rob Addy  |  October 16, 2013  |  Submit a Comment

Everything is wonderful. Your customers are satisfied. Or so your internal metrics suggest. You pay a fortune to collect and analyse the data. Of course it’s accurate and relevant. CSAT is trending nicely. Top box ratings are on the up. NPS has never been higher. And yet you have a nagging doubt gnawing away at the stem of your cerebral cortex. What if you’re missing something? What if the picture isn’t quite as rosy as the metrics and the experts that deliver them suggest?

  • Is CSAT a false idol within a B2B relationship?
  • Does worshiping at the altar of CSAT and/or NPS expose service providers to risk?
  • Are CSAT and NPS even relevant within a captive customer context?
  • Does a transactional based cognitive model work in a continuous engagement scenario?
  • Every provider tells us that their CSAT is great and getting better… How can they all be right?
  • How can “Voice of the customer” programs be interpreted to go beyond listening to really hear and understand?
  • How can customer loyalty truly be measured? Can it be measured? What are the primary influencing factors?
  • Is loyalty a realistic prospect in today’s services market as the barriers to switching erode?
  • How concerned should providers be? Are they living in blissful ignorance?
  • Will seemingly happy and contented customers suddenly decide to switch without prior warning? Or were the warning signs there but the provider failed to pick up on them?
  • End user organizations sometimes tell us that it’s “just time for a change”… How can that “point of no return” be deferred indefinitely? Conversely, how can it be accelerated for your customers of your competitors?
  • How can loyalty be assured / guaranteed? Is loyalty “just” a measure of a customer’s propensity to stay or leave?
  • What can providers do to nurture / facilitate / inspire loyalty? Yes, “inspire”… Not a word that springs to mind too frequently in today’s services marketplace!
  • Does happiness correlate to loyalty? How unhappy for how long pushes people over the edge? Is an occasional bit of customer pain useful to help them to see the all of the good that you do for them?
  • What observable behaviours indicate customer happiness? How can these factors be evaluated? Is a customer happiness quotient feasible? And if it were, how would you use it?
  • How can the perceptions that underpin those positive behaviours be reinforced / created?
  • Why do customers cancel contracts? What are the most common modes of dissatisfaction?
  • What causes a customer to start thinking about switching providers? What triggers this process?
  • Who initiates the train of thought that ultimately leads to an organization switching providers?
  • How can providers identify the naysayers and nullify their effect before it takes hold and gathers momentum?
  • Can the runaway train of cancellation be brought to halt before it wrecks itself at the corner of non-renewal?
  • What are the indicators that a seething pool of resentment is growing beneath the placid surface of mutual indifference?

I don’t have answers to all of these questions. I’m not sure that anyone does. But I do believe that they are the sorts of questions that service providers must think about very carefully. You need to try and pull yourself away from gazing happily into the “Magic Mirror of Self-Delusion” that is CSAT and NPS. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that such measures do still have a place but they are just one view of the world. A view that may not necessarily be beneficial in helping you to predict how your customers are likely to behave in the future. What you augment that view with is another question. A very interesting and potentially game changing question.  A question that a current on-going research stream within the Infrastructure Services agenda will hopefully help to address. How you use that insight to retain those customers that you want to keep remains to be seen. Is predicting customer behaviours viable with the knowledge you currently have? Do you have the tools to do this now? And even if you do, are you sufficiently skilled at using those tools to get the meaningful information you need to base incisive proactive interventions on? How good is your customer dissent scanner? Do have a realistic and proven view of current renewal risks? Or is the warm snuggly blanket of CSAT and NPS lulling you into a false sense of security?

Sleep well sweet lumbering giants.. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?



Category: support-strategy  technologies-underpinning-support  

Rob Addy
Research Vice President
5 years at Gartner
More years than I care to remember in the IT industry

Welcome to my blog! I post about all things services related from the provider perspective. End-users are welcome to read but please be aware that you may sometimes find its content unsettling. I will endeavour to post frequently (as it's a lot cheaper than a therapist) but please forgive me if other more mundane activities occasionally get in the way...Read my official Gartner bio here

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