Time to Recalibrate Care

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“Love is the state of caring so much for a person that most of your own happiness derives from increasing that person’s happiness and well-being.”

Fred Reichheld, the father of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) released his latest book in December 2021, Winning on Purpose: The Unbeatable Strategy of Loving Your Customers. Above is a quote taken from Chapter 3. The key word is “caring”. It starts with caring for your team and then they will care for your customers! How might you show more caring for your customers/employees?

Reichheld’s motivation for Winning on Purpose is – loosely translated – that NPS has become a kind of holy grail and many companies manipulate surveys, people and results in order to show a good score. That is a thorn in Reichheld’s side and the reason why in his latest book he comes up with an accounting counterpart in the form of an objective, mathematically calculated KPI, earned growth rate. At the same time, whilst emphasizing more than he has ever done in his previous books, the importance of care: “Today we can establish that business success begins with leaders who embrace a fundamental proposition that their firm’s primary purpose is to treat customers with loving care. That approach begets loyalty, which powers sustainable, profitable growth.”

One of the key findings in a global study of Qualtrics, Bruce Temkin, of December 2021 is that over half of consumers want organizations to (do a better job of listening to them and) care more about them.

Consumers want organizations to care (more) about them. Companies want sustainable and profitable growth. Care is the key. How hard can it be. Despite the fact that much has been written about EQ in recent decades and the fact that ‘soft’ is hard, the accounting, or as Reichheld calls it financial capitalism (vs customer capitalism), approach still predominates in organizations. We talk about People, Planet, Profit, but everything is consistently translated back into Profit accounting terms. That’s where NPS becomes ‘instrumental’ and Reichheld comes up with an accounting counterpart of NPS. In an attempt to make the intangible, like meaning, and meaningful encounters, tangible.

When customers feel cared for, they come back for more and bring their friends.
Ask yourself, to what extent does this reflect your daily life experiences? You in your role as a customer? You in your work life and your role in the company you work for? Does your business have loyal customers who feel cared for, who believe in you? And, by extension, employees who feel cared for, and believe in your customer-centric mission?

Care is Energy

Care is energy! Pretending to care costs energy. Acting from a source of genuine care generates energy. Care creates results that exceed expectations. Care supercharges your organization. Bet on care and hopefully you will earn, among other things, NPS. However, NPS only makes sense when you identify and act on its key drivers.

Customer advocacy (ambassadorship of customers, NPS) is in many companies a concept that is not secured in the capillaries of the organization. There’s a reason why customers don’t feel it. Time to recalibrate care. The three most important reasons to recalibrate care and essential for sustainable business operations today:

  1. The great resignation, a hot topic at this time. Attracting and retaining employees takes more than money;
  2. Customer intimacy centred on empathy and emotion is pervasive, and the customer experience remains the ultimate battleground;
  3. Customer advocacy (NPS) is more and more synonymous with hyper growth.

Where consumers are flooded with an abundance of choice, and products and services are completely commoditized, care makes the difference: ‘When you care, people notice’. A service-based culture is hard to build and maintain. Consumers can’t be tricked into it. They will know and their (positive or negative) messages spread faster and across larger geographic areas than a company will ever be able to afford, no matter how large the marketing budget. Genuine care makes the difference.

Care delivers sustainable business and financial results. Care has a material impact on attracting and retaining top employees, their work attitude, and their work pleasure. Care has a tangible impact on the loyalty and the retention of customers, their spend, and the attraction of new customers (Reichheld’s new KPI, earned growth rate, EGR). Care materially impacts the bottom-line and the long-term success of a company. It is a transformational process that touches the core of your organization. Care generates customer advocacy (NPS), it turns your (employees and your) customers, your two most important stakeholders, into your ambassadors, and is the most effective as well as the cheapest marketing tool.

Why do so many organizations struggle with putting words to action when it comes to ‘putting the customer first’?

  • It is a transformational process, a learning and development process, a journey that touches the core of your organization.
  • It requires strategic alignment between all business units and a strong shared sense of purpose.
  • It is a change from task- to results-oriented, from ‘I’ to ‘we’, and requires a safe & brave environment in which employees can, are allowed and dare to change their behavior.
  • It requires that the basis of your organization is in order (operational excellence) and sets requirements for the governance of your organization.
  • And finally, it takes time, staying focused, sharpening, adjusting, inspiring and balancing, in short, it takes leadership. Success has many fathers, the more the better.

This is the first blog in a cycle of 6 blogs on the theme “Recalibrating Care” in which you are taken on a journey to what care and customer advocacy (NPS) mean for a sustainably successful and profitable organization and what you need to generate customer advocacy, inspired by Fred Reichheld his newest book introducing NPS 3.0. Be on the look-out for my next blog.

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