I recently read on one of the Net Promoter® forums a posting that asked the question “Is my company big enough for an NPS® program?”. The Poster felt that his/her company was too small to benefit from implementing a Net Promoter program.

Although Satmetrix, in their Net Promoter ® Associate training (which I attended in May ’09) claims that nearly 700 of the Top 1000 Companies uses Net Promoter, this does not mean that smaller enterprises cannot benefit from the NPS process and discipline. In fact, NPS could be even more valuable to the smaller company.

In my previous posts, I discussed how NPS identifies the Promoters who become free extensions of a company’s marketing department, not to mention that they are the most profitable customers. So, why should this benefit be limited to only the large organizations like Apple, eBay and Harley Davidson? Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) all the way down to the individual Entrepreneur can implement and benefit from NPS. Every company, regardless of size, can use more profitable customers and no-cost marketers to promote their business. And all companies, regardless of size, need to understand the factors that create Detractors.

NPS is very scalable and affordable for the smaller organization. I’ve seen an NPS program implemented for a large North American financial institution as well as a program for a local independent financial advisor with only 300 clients. The basic tenets of NPS apply to both businesses. In other instances, I’ve seen an NPS program put in place for a small entrepreneurial heating and air conditioning service supplier as well as an independent construction crane contractor. Neither company had a large staff nor a long client list, but both CEOs took away some key insights that helped drive their business growth.

The two key issues that seem to be of concern for smaller companies are the costs associated with an NPS program and the internal resources required to manage the program and to analyze the results.

With smaller companies and shorter customer lists, costs are generally contained since the sample size is smaller. In the case of the financial advisor, 100 completed NPS questionnaires were gathered from a base of 300 clients. And since the NPS questionnaire is very short, the telephone data collection (used because of the sensitive nature of the client relationship) proved to be very affordable for the financial advisor. Costs would be even lower for an online survey using a qualified, client identified list. Yes, a larger sample size would improve the statistical significance of the data, but 100 completed interviews from a base of 300 will yield usable data.

Few small companies have a dedicated research department so they should lean on their Net Promoter® Loyalty Partner for the project management as well as the research analysis and reporting. This might cost a bit more, but could pay off in some very valuable insights. In the case of the large financial institution I mentioned, their large research department handled everything but data collection and data tables, while the financial advisor depended on the Net Promoter Partner for the project management, questionnaire construction, list management, data collection, data tables, analysis and final report. One such Net Promoter® Loyalty Partner that provides this type of comprehensive service is Consumer Contact Loyalty Monitor (www.loyaltymonitor.ca)

The frequency of data collection might need adjusting for a smaller company with a smaller client list. The NPS survey might be conducted quarterly instead of monthly, with the data aggregated into a rolling average. Less frequent surveying will also reduce the cost and the risk of over-researching a relatively small client base.

There is one advantage that SMEs have over the large companies when it comes to taking action based on NPS data. The agility of smaller companies allows them to identify the critical issues and swing into action mode very quickly and make any adjustments to the operations or organizational structure. Large organizations, in spite of their best intentions, still take a lot of effort to enact the changes indicated by the NPS data.

A Net Promoter Score™ program does require an effort and investment, but for the smaller enterprise it could prove to be one the best investments they could make to drive business growth and profit. You don’t have to be one of the Big Guys to benefit from NPS.

 

Keith Chapin is a Certified Net Promoter® Associate and Consultant with over 35 years of experience in research, marketing and customer insights. He can be reached at kchapin@promotersrecommend.com

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

 

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Comments
  1. adamdorrell says:

    Keith – good post. Cost is no barrier to entry for small companies for Net Promoter. You can start for literally almost nothing: A simple survey, and a spreadsheet is all you need to get going. If you follow the rules in Reichheld’s book you can implement this industry standard metric within days.

    We’ve found that as companies start to use it some help with analysis and archiving the response they are prepared to spend some money. CustomerGauge is an ideal tool to help them at a reasonable cost – Adam

    • Keith Chapin says:

      Thanks for the comments.

      For smaller companies, getting started is often the toughest part, which is why selecting a qualified Net Promoter Loyalty Partner is so important to them.

      Keith

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