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The Net Promoter System Podcast

The Self-Replicating Customer Feedback Loop

E.ON’s Andrew Clayton explains how he scales customer feedback loops that can stand the test of time and withstand the forces of entropy.

  • June 13, 2019


The Self-Replicating Customer Feedback Loop

How do you compel an organization to respond to customer feedback, not once or twice, but continuously, with unflagging energy, for years to come? 

Andrew Clayton says that this question is one of the most enduring and fascinating challenges of his career. He knows from experience—he is now leading the effort for a third time—that every Net Promoter System®, even a thriving one, can succumb to entropy.

“It's a constant challenge of customer focus or customer-centricity being seen as an initiative or a program with a start and end point,” Andrew says, “rather than something which is fundamental to the way you want to run your organization...And I think that ultimately requires a lot of hard work to really keep that customer lens on the agenda… on a sustainable basis over time.”

This word "sustainable" comes up repeatedly in my conversations with Andrew, the global head of customer experience at E.ON. He takes the long view of customer relationships, in part, because he's been running the NPS® feedback loop longer than just about anyone I know in the field.

Since the early 2000s, he has scaled sustainable NPS programs at three major companies, Allianz, Bupa, and now E.ON. He has become an expert at winding that customer feedback loop into the very DNA of the company, so that NPS essentially self-replicates, even into new teams and new projects.       

In this episode of the Net Promoter System Podcast, Andrew Clayton explains how he not only kicks off the customer feedback loop, but how he keeps it running, unceasingly, no matter where the organization goes.

You can listen to our conversation on iTunes, Stitcher, the podcast provider of choice, or through the audio player below:

In the excerpt, below, Andrew Clayton shares the genesis story of the outer loop strategy, which he first put into motion in the early 2000s at Allianz.

Andrew Clayton: One of the first things we noticed is the front line of the organization, the team level, let’s say, can only do so much right and there are lots of examples where you've got frontline operational centers who are already under pressure, anyway, being managed by lots of different KPIs, having a very little time, and they get pretty inspired quickly if they can get feedback on the interaction they had with the customer, and they can actually learn from that and get coaching conversations with their team leader as part of daily operational rhythms, and then really have the freedom to act and improve the experience of the customer. That's a pretty powerful thing.

However, it's not enough, and that will run out of steam eventually, and that's what I've seen from time to time.

Rob Markey: Why do you say it's not enough?

Andrew Clayton: Because there will be issues which those frontline teams will face—systemic issues, ongoing problem issues, pricing issues, marketing issues—which the team can't fix by themselves or can’t act upon.

So pretty quickly we found out that we need to find way to escalate or triage those insights and those problem areas more quickly and get those owned more effectively in the organization to get those acted upon. I think that was the genesis, I would say, of what is now called “outer loop.”

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