CEM Toolbox: Apostle Model


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I started my CEM Toolbox series back in January and haven’t kept up with it at all. There have just been so many great things to write about since then. I’ll strive to get back to it, and if you have any suggestions for the Toolbox, I’m all ears!

Last week, Howard Burns of Microsoft and I hosted a CXPA Roundtable about the Apostle Model. As we wrapped up the call, I knew this would be a great topic to add to the Toolbox.

I’ve written about the Apostle Model a few times, but it’s time to update the theory with some practical application.

As a refresher, the Apostle Model is a different way (as opposed to NPS, for example) to segment your customers for the purpose of understanding loyalty and driving customer-centricity in the organization. This model uses two questions (overall satisfaction and likelihood to repurchase) to create the segments. The image above gives you a quick look at the segments and how they are defined.

Toward the end of the Roundtable, Howard talked about his experience with rolling out the Apostle Model within Microsoft. Some things to consider if you plan to use this model in your organization:

1. Know and understand your customers. This is important for everything you do, but it’s important when you’re choosing a loyalty model/metric or deciding how to segment your customers. According to The Service Profit Chain, “Organizations that have not identified the customers they are targeting have a special handicap in achieving total customer satisfaction. They too often attempt to please everyone, creating too many ‘merely satisfied’ customers and too few ‘apostles’ in the very core of the customer base in which they should be investing. Further, customer satisfaction measures too often are averaged across segments and not related to other measures that could provide insights into profitable strategies.” Amen.

2. Understand the metric. What is the Apostle Model? Understand how it works and the fact that it provides a different view of the customer. Overall satisfaction is overall satisfaction, but adding a second dimension, i.e., likelihood to repurchase, like the Apostle Model does, creates a different perspective. Also, determine the best loyalty measure for your organization to use in the Model. Microsoft uses a composite/index as the value for the y-axis.

3. Sell the metric. Why are we using this one? Executives within your organization will not just accept a metric because you say it’s the one to use. Do your homework. Explain why this is the best one for your organization, for your customers. Prove it.

4. Educate. Once you’ve sold it to the executives, you need to socialize it with the rest of the stakeholders within the organization. As a matter of fact, you’ll need to educate everyone, not just stakeholders.

5. Validate. Clearly there will be several validation points along this journey, including before you even sell the metric to your executives. But after you roll it out, you will want to continue to validate to ensure this metric makes sense for you.

6. Now what? Prepare a prescriptive guide that outlines how employees will deal, respond, and interact with the different customer segments differently.Why? Again citing The Service Profit Chain: “Satisfaction scores provide useful early warning of problems, but… satisfied customers do not systematically buy more than… unsatisfied ones.” This is why they did the research that resulted in the Apostle Model. Once we accept the fact that satisfied customers are not loyal customers, we need to realize that we need to outline how we will interact differently with customers, depending on who they are.

Result: A personalized customer experience. Hmmm… what a novel idea.

There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer. -Shep Hyken

Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless. –Jeffrey Gitomer

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Annette Franz
Annette Franz is founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey Inc. She is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She has 25+ years of experience in helping companies understand their employees and customers in order to identify what makes for a great experience and what drives retention, satisfaction, and engagement. She's sharing this knowledge and experience in her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).


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