3 Ways to Secure Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty With Accountability


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The following is a Best of 360Connext post.

As Dr. Phil likes to say, “People do what works.” If it works to ignore loyalty, people will continue to do that.

Consider how most business leaders and sales teams are compensated. It’s all about the NEW. New sales, new clients, new customers. Growth in the market meaning more new customers.

How many incentives are tied to real  customer satisfaction and loyalty?

Here are three ways to encourage the people in your organization to care about loyalty from customers.

Customer Satisfaction

1. Great Metrics Matter

If you track the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or have your own Voice of the Customer (VOC) metrics, tie bonuses to these results. If the leaders in your organization are only rewarded for acquisition, they will not necessarily see the need to focus on improving these numbers tied to how customers are feeling. Make it count! A word of caution here – if you have no data yet collected, give it time to mature and see what’s average. Only do this if your data collection is mature enough to handle it. And be prepared to hear some backlash. People will stay unaccountable because that’s more comfortable. Accountability over these numbers means understanding what customers go through. Sometimes, the truth hurts.

2. Make Sure The Voice of the Customer Is Heard

It’s easy to ignore surveys and verbatim quotes when they don’t feel tied to real people. While reports and dashboards are helpful, they tend to lose their impact after a while. Inserting a powerful emotional testimony from a real, live customer helps leaders connect with the humanity of the customer experience. Bring in a customer to a monthly meeting to share a story, or ask an executive to connect with a disappointed detractor via web conferencing. It becomes a lot more real when you are hearing about a story from the person who is telling it. (Click to Tweet this!)

3. Feel The Churn

Just as rewards and real-life testimony can help drive the behaviors for loyalty, feeling the pain of a high churn rate can help, too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked the question and heard “we don’t really know” about the churn rate. Make the number of customers leaving you just as important as the number joining you each month, quarter, or year. And then explore what behaviors and actions are driving the number up (bad!) or down (great!).

Understanding how to create and maintain loyalty is a key factor in improving it. Helping your leaders see their roles in it is just as critical.

There may be some resisitance when it comes to tying real employee rewards and compensation with customer happiness and loyalty. But the overall rewards will be long-term customers who will promote your business for you.

Image Credit: Light Play via Creative Commons

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeannie Walters, CCXP
Jeannie Walters is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a globally recognized speaker, a LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com instructor, and a Tedx speaker. She’s a very active writer and blogger, contributing to leading publications from Forbes to Pearson college textbooks. Her mission is “To Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers.”


  1. Hello Jeannie,

    You write:

    1. “If you track the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or have your own Voice of the Customer (VOC) metrics, tie bonuses to these results.”

    2. “Bring in a customer to a monthly meeting to share a story, or ask an executive to connect with a disappointed detractor via web conferencing.”

    3. “Make the number of customers leaving you just as important as the number joining you each month, quarter, or year.”

    My question is this one: Who is it that you are speaking to here? Put differently, who is going to do that which are saying should be done? The sales store clerk, the call-centre agent, the digital marketing manager? Or is it the CMO? The CSO? The CFO? CEO? Or is it the Chairman of the Board of Directors?

    You go on to say: “There may be some resisitance when it comes to tying real employee rewards and compensation with customer happiness and loyalty.”

    So here are my question: Who will resist? And who is it that you see being charged with the responsibility of overcoming the resistance? What if the very people who resist are the CEO and other Tops – you know the guys that are rewarded for driving up the share price?

    Like much Customer advice I find your advice to be great theory. What I do not see is this: who you are asking/expecting to change the behaviour (and compensation package) of the CEO and other Tops.

    At you service | with my love

  2. Maz, Great questions/insights! If the leadership is resisting, it’s very difficult to overcome. I’ve written a bit about that in the past. If they are truly trying to become a customer-centric organization, the leadership has everything to do with that. I’ve witnessed change start with the call center leaders or digital marketing or the CMO. They sometimes have to fight a fairly long battle of proving small results based on small changes. If the CEO recognizes that, they are more willing to make the bigger changes throughout the organization. In one case, it was the Chairman of the Board who requested a customer share a story at each meeting. That’s a really progressive Chairman! Most won’t consider that as part of their duties.
    So to answer your question of who? It depends. More CMO’s are seeing the importance of delivering on the experience they are asked to market, but others can lead this type of change, too. And the Tops will only change if they see that change as beneficial. If customer experience improves, loyalty and customer lifetime value will increase, which in turn brings in more value for shareholders. It’s not a short-term strategy, however, so it does take progressive leadership.
    Thanks for adding to this conversation!

  3. While agreement with sharing positive and negative customer insights across the organization is pretty easy (http://customerthink.com/what_happens_when_companies_lose_customers/), the concept of linking incentives and other bonus-type compensation to metrics, while well-intended can be problematical. What problems? Well, satisfaction and NPS results don’t necessarily track to business performance, so employees can be falsely rewarded or penalized: https://experiencematters.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/why-net-promoter-score-may-not-align-with-business-results/

  4. First, Jeannie, glad to hear the now long lost word customer satisfaction which has given way to customer experience.
    Ina nay event, Maz, NPS is a truncated VOC and does not talk about churn, which Customer Value Added does (see my book Customer Value Investment: http://www.amazon.com/Customer-Value-Investment-Sustained-Business/dp/0761936041

    The point is if people do what works, we are espousing short term views where profit is king and customer is a has been. That is why the lifetime of an average company has fallen from 27 years to 12, and the lifespan of a CEO fro 11-12 years to 2-3 years. Make your money and run is what seems to be happening.

    Loyalty and the Customer cannot take a second place and by doing so companie face extinction UNLESS every other company is dong the same.

    So why upset the apple cart if we are all riding in it?

  5. Thanks for raising this topic, Jeannie. Accountability–and empowerment–is certainly an important part of any CX transformation effort.

    Marc’s raised a critical point, CSAT, NPS and other loyalty metrics typically don’t track well (if at all) with business outcome measures like revenue and SOW. It’s quite easy to delight customers by giving away the farm, for example, but not wise as a long term strategy (not if you want to stay in business!).

    That’s not to say that the pursuit of delighting customers and creating promoters is misguided–far from it! The challenge to date has been one of specification, or mis-specification, but this business performance linkage challenge has recently been solved: it’s all about ‘winning the CX dating game’ http://customerthink.com/contestant-1-winning-at-the-cx-dating-game/

    One last point, as you know, any time you tie compensation to CX performance measures you have to lay the groundwork and do the heavy lifting upfront. In other words, train & communicate early and often! Otherwise, the compensation linkage can be viewed as merely an obstacle to their rightful bonus fulfillment. In those scenarios, you have to be wary of gaming and watch data quality like a hawk…the tendency (misguided) is for such staff to focus on the number, question the underlying data and lose sight of the reality behind the numbers: individual customers had unsatisfactory experiences. Understanding this and (assuming they’re empowered with a closed loop system) establishing clear best practices for responding to customers ‘in pain’ are also critical components associated with such ties to compensation.

    That said, agreed Gautam, the customer has to be clearly at the center of any successful enterprise. Their experience–service, product, virtual, remote, brick and mortar, you name it–is the key differentiator of successful businesses today, and tomorrow.

  6. Great comments, everyone. I think a lot of this points back to how each company is different, so it’s critical to customize outcomes and rewards. I worked with 2 companies at once and one found while NPS wasn’t related to business success, customer satisfaction rates were. The other company found the exact opposite. The culture of high-paid executives is part of the churn rates mentioned here. And first and foremost, if the actual customer journey and moments-of-truth are overlooked, no amount of compensation will work.
    This customer experience work is a lot more heavy lifting than many think! It’s a discipline and a science and an art, in my opinion, which makes finding a “one size fits all” solution so difficult.

  7. When I joined Applied Materials (semiconductor equipment manufacturer) as VoC manager I was initially disappointed when the VP I reported to said we wouldn’t be tying bonuses to our relationship survey or transaction surveys. He explained that we would require every organization to create action plans on their cut of the survey results, and we’d track progress metrics of those action plans in an executive report quarterly. The progress metrics would need to be sanity-checked for driving root cause resolution, and have a stretch goal in order to be tied to bonuses. So my team set out to do that. We were enthusiastic about the effect this had on our company’s mindset and pace of real improvements. Directors-and-above in any job role were involved in this.

    What I learned is very important about human nature — everyone wants to be measured on things they feel they can directly impact — and about metrics — leading indicators are things we can directly manage, while lagging indicators are their outcomes, such as survey scores.

    I’m an absolute fan of tying performance evaluations and compensation to customer experience improvement, far and wide, not just among the front-line. But I’m not a fan of tying compensation to lagging indicators, unless they represent a small percentage of the whole equation, with the lion’s share focused on leading indicators.

    A couple of articles readers may appreciate:
    Please Give Us a ‘Highly Satisfied’ Rating!?!
    Metrics for Customer Experience Management
    Employee Engagement in Balanced Scorecards

    I like your recommendation, Jeannie, to emphasize the existing customer base, and prevention of churn. Too often overlooked, as you point out.

  8. Jeannie, Both C Sat and NPS are not enough and do not have strong correlations with loyalty. This how the Value measurements started and the Vodafone CEO said it (the Customer Value added score) predicted market share to within 1% accuracy.
    Secons, I believe the CVA score has to be reported to shareholders along with quarterly earnings.Customer centricity will get traction as shareholders see CVA scores going up and down with quarterly results. Then they will focus on Customer issues. They will ask questions (why is the score high or low, what made it change? Do you see the impact on profits?)
    Lynn, I agree, the customer scores should impact more people’s compensation in a company


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