When it comes to delighting customers, leading companies don’t limit themselves to the people outside their walls. They look inward at ways they can apply the Net Promoter System® (NPS®) values to their internal operations.
We’ve written extensively on employee NPS and the importance of fostering an engaged staff. But some companies are going a step further and using the Net Promoter System to collect feedback among their internal departments, using the input for coaching and development.
In these scenarios, an IT help desk or an in-house travel department might use an e-mail questionnaire to ask users– how likely they would be to recommend the department’s services to their colleagues. From there, the department can identify promoters, passives and detractors, and get to the root causes of users’ concerns. It’s a natural fit for the Net Promoter System’s feedback loops, which emphasize constant input and improvement. Employees gain a better understanding of their colleagues’ needs and learn to provide more effective service.
Here are some questions to consider before you bring NPS inside your organization:
Which internal departments could benefit most from NPS? We recommend that you look for departments that have strong potential to please or anger users, especially departments with large staffs that might deliver varying levels of service quality. Internal feedback can also help departments that offer services that outside vendors can provide, such as executive recruiting, Web development or event planning. These employees might need to work harder to compete for their colleagues’ loyalty.
How should employees receive the feedback? Input is most meaningful when it’s delivered while the customer interaction is still fresh in an employee’s mind. That allows the person to reflect on his or her approach and consider ways to improve it. While it’s always best to identify the respondent, some employees might bristle at the thought of giving their honest views to colleagues who will read these criticisms. If an anonymous questionnaire seems like the best option for your department, it’s a good idea to include open-ended questions so you can probe into respondents’ concerns.
Does the traditional “recommend” question fit the situation? A department should choose a question that enables it to easily identify promoters, passives and detractors so that it can take appropriate action for each group. You could adjust the question to ask whether a department “exceeded your expectations” or “made it easier for you to do your job.” As a follow-up question, you could ask the respondent if there’s anything else the department could do to enhance the service experience.
How important is the Net Promoter Score in these cases? While the score is helpful, companies might get more value from verbatim feedback about department performance. We also recommend that companies avoid comparing the scores of different departments. Instead, companies should use the scores as benchmarks for ongoing improvement. Until you have a year’s worth of data, consider celebrating employees’ internal NPS successes rather than score improvements.
Should NPS be factored into compensation? It’s best to use NPS as a tool for learning and development, rather than a way to evaluate employee performance. Tying Net Promoter Scores to compensation can be very complicated.
How will you close the loop? The key to a robust Net Promoter System is to foster accelerated learning throughout the organization by connecting employees with their customers, whether internal or external. It’s critical to find ways to follow up with individuals who provide thoughtful, constructive feedback so that you can dig deeper and resolve any issues they may still have.
As with any Net Promoter System, a company must be prepared to turn feedback into action or its efforts will be for naught. But if done well, interdepartmental use of NPS can reinforce a cultural emphasis on quality that ultimately spreads beyond the company’s walls.
Net Promoter®, Net Promoter System®, Net Promoter Score® and NPS® are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.
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