Measuring Value: Theirs, Yours and Ours Part Two of a Three Part Series

This past holiday, our newest team member took on the sizable task of ordering from over 30 specialty food companies. We gave her little guidance other than a budget and eagerly awaited her observations. We’ve talked before about the importance of seeing your website through virgin eyes. You get this chance once and only once, which is why continuous user testing is so important.

But Robin not only had the opportunity to test the sites, she got to experience the whole process. From engaging with the website for the first time, to receiving the box on her doorstep, and every touch point in between – in short time Robin became an industry expert.

Robin shopped all 32 sites in less than a week. Enough time to clear her mental cache between each shop, but a short enough duration to garner an excellent comparative response. She is, after all, our industry’s target audience. A 42 year old mother of three, a foodie, a gifter, a traditionalist southerner with a penchant for finding something new and unique. She’s never boring and she’s got incredible taste.

Much of Robin’s findings will shape how we work with clients, how we plan for holiday 2018, the recommendations we make and they will serve as fodder for these newsletters. Since this is a series of 3, and last week we discussed the value of a customer, it seems appropriate to consider the value of a specialty food business. Net Promoter Score is an industry term that is widely discussed and often ignored. This score assigns a numeric value to not only your customer’s loyalty and satisfaction, but to the likelihood they serve as an ambassador for your brand. The best of the best in this business cultivate their score, gauge it, engage it, and protect it fiercely.

Zingerman’s Mail Order in Ann Arbor, Michigan is an excellent example. We have yet to work with any business that doesn’t make mistakes. When I order from Zingerman’s, I almost hope they falter so I can be the recipient of their best-in-breed customer service. Sure it’s excellent when my product arrives perfectly, but when something inadvertently goes wrong – they bend over backwards. They listen carefully to feedback, they respond in a personal way, and above all, they do whatever they need to do to make it right. AND – they send a coupon code. Boom – trust strengthened, loyalty increased, re-order likely. They have created a community of believers – not only through quality and excellence of product – but in customer care as well.
Businesses who want to survive and thrive in Amazon-Land know that these two elements go hand in hand. In fact, Amazon’s achilles may just prove to be its deafening void of human contact. Have you ever tried to get someone on the phone at Amazon? I have, let me save you the trouble.

Back to Net Promoter Score (NPS). Customer satisfaction has been around forever, but NPS was officially labeled and defined in 2003 by Bain and Company. It’s based on one very simple question – one we’ve all been asked. “How likely are you to recommend our brand?” Customer response can be broken down in to three categories, Promoters, Passives and Detractors. This is where customer satisfaction surveys fall short. Promoters and Passives are both satisfied customers. Both can be repeat buyers. But on a scale from 0 – 10, a customer has to score a 9 or above to be considered a Promoter. The major difference? A Promoter is loyal and a Passive can easily be influenced by other brand promotions or wooed by something new and shiny.
Promoters account for at least 80% of referral business, they are less sensitive to price and they are cheaper and easier to market to. But more important than those elements of loyalty, a Promoter promotes the brand, a passive does not. No marketing program is more valuable – not paid search, nor catalogs, nor your website, than a customer base of Promoters. The higher your NPS, the faster you grow.

Detractors, on the other hand, are lethal. They account for 80% of all negative word-of-mouth publicity. Not all unsatisfied customers become Detractors. As I mentioned, a dry brownie or a melted box of chocolate can be an excellent opportunity for a conversation that leads to a second order. But just as easily, failure to make good, or even the benign neglect of an overrun call center or an uninformed agent can turn a dissatisfied customer in to a Detractor. Detractors usually have a story to tell and there is nary a more sensitive and finicky consumer than a specialty food customer. Why? Because they’re buying a premium product that they, or their recipient, will ingest. I would take an ill-fitting T-shirt over spoiled cheese any day.

To measure your NPS, create a survey and e-mail it to your list. The survey needs to be concise and easy to take but asking the right questions is crucial. Having a good sense of your customer, understanding your strengths and weaknesses and identifying possible opportunities are the foundation of writing an effective survey. Surveys themselves, with an enticing offer, can be an excellent tool to solicit that all-important second order. And if nothing else, a well-crafted survey shows dedication and consideration of your customer. Even a customer that doesn’t participate will get that message.

Timing of the survey is important for optimum participation. We have had success with a manner of different strategies including triggered e-mail, but when the responses are in – calculating the score is easy. Take your percentage of Promoters and subtract your percentage of Detractors. Passives mean little in this exercise except to present opportunity. It’s easier to get an order out of a Passive than a never-buyer, and each order is an opportunity to create a Promoter.

Do you know your Net Promoter Score? An industry survey comprising of that one question would likely yield surprising results. Many businesses do not. Circling back to Robin…we asked her to rate herself a Promoter, a Passive or a Detractor after receiving each order – taking in to account the entire process. Consideration was given to the shopping experience, ease of checkout, order confirmation e-mails, after-confirmation correspondence, delivery information and lastly, the all-important in-box experience.

Robin tells us that there was no one single element more important than the end-product. Not surprising. Much can be overlooked if the end result is sensational and much good can be forgotten if it’s not. Part 3 in this three-part series explores the simple question – what’s in your box?