Three lessons from a Net Promoter journey

I’m speaking tomorrow at the Net Promoter Conference in San Francisco. After my flight today, I was able to catch a couple of sessions. One of those was a speech by Brad Smith, Intuit’s CEO.

(For some more background, read my post: Net Promoter And Satisfaction Battle For King Of The Ring).

Intuit has been one of the most active users of the Net Promoter methodology (focusing on customers’ answer to a single question: Would you recommend Intuit to a friend?). It started when Intuit’s founder Scott Cook championed the deployment of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) across Intuit in 2003. I’ve had several meeting with Cook since then and can attest to his strong commitment to NPS. One of Smith’s initial statements was very telling:

Net Promoter is core to the compnay… it’s part of who I am as a leader.

Smith also said that 81% of sales are directly attributable to word of mouth. He then went through three lessons that Intuit has learned on it’s Net Promoter journey. Here are a few of his interesting comments on those lessons:

1) Leaders Must Chart The Course

  • He discussed “True North” as the direction towards customer experience that everyone in the company shares
  • One of the firm’s goals is to have an NPS at least 10 points more than the nearest alternative
  • They use customer feedback to rapidly change the Turbo Tax product; they changed more than 90% of the code during the tax season.
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2) Delighting Customers Makes Employees Hearts Beat Faster

  • He said that employees need hear customer feedback; whether they’re complaints or applause. Without it, he said, was like giving a show day after day in an empty theater.
  • To empower employees to unleash ideas, 10% of employees time is “unstructured” and meant for finding ways to improve customer experience. They’ve created an online “Brainstorm” tool to facilitate idea sharing across the company.

3) Innovation Fuels Customer Delight

  • He suggests that you need to question long-held beliefs; and gave several examples of ideas from Gen Y employees. One of those ideas was to put the live support community inside of Turbo Tax. It turns out that 40% of the questions customers had were being answered by other customers.
  • The company created Intuit Labs to facilitate innovation.
  • One great example was a problem with Intuit’s IVR (the menu of options customers hear when they call). Customers were getting incorrectly routed 40% of the time. Since it took 10 days to reprogram the IVR, they couldn’t try a lot of things in the normal way. So one engineer said let’s do this the old fashioned way; and they did. People answered the phone and spoke the menus. By trial and error, they found a menu structure that worked before reprograming the IVR.

The bottom line: Would you recommend this blog to your friends and colleagues? -)

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By the way, Keith McFarland in his recent book describes the Intuit approach in more detail. And let’s face it, who besides Google and Intuit can compete with Microsoft?

Artist Will Cotton www.willcotton.com
Artist Will Cotton www.willcotton.com

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