“Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.” Abe Gubegna (The fable of the Lion and the Gazelle)

Early stage NPS Programs can perhaps be forgiven for a certain myopia about achieving “personal best” with their NPS ratings. The focus is on just getting timely feedback to frontline staff and acting on it. And more often than not this focus is rewarded with stellar results – for a while.

As NPS Programs mature, and the early wins have been won – results often start to plateau and breakthrough measures are called for. One obvious measure might be to go deeper – with more initiatives to discern “root cause” but another often missed approach – is to go broader – and address the fundamental reality of your customer – they have a choice!

Rob Markey makes some important distinctions about measuring experiences, relationships and competitive benchmarks. You can read more about it from Bain & Co.

The competitive benchmarking that Rob Markey talks about is a “form of traditional market research” with rigour about a genuine double blind “apples with apples” comparison and there is no doubt about the value of this in providing market context and identifying strategic gaps for your brand. Markey also points out that the focus of these periodic and lengthy (15-20 min) surveys are necessarily broad and that experience measures might only cover a “handful of moments of truth”.

I argue that whilst these traditional research surveys are valuable and have their place, there may be even more value in driving this competitor view into touchpoint and episode NPS programs.

Let’s put “how” to one side for now but address “why”?

As a customer, your shopping experience at competing local department stores today & next week is an extremely valuable comparison. As is making an insurance claim with one brand and comparing it to the experience of a trusted friend with another brand at the office tomorrow. Or shopping for a new car in your local area over the month of May.

From the organisations view point, in highly competitive markets, to allocate focus or resources to one branch or region without competitor (NPS) context is sub-optimal at the least and may be dangerous at worst. You have gone to all the trouble of collecting regular feedback and improve the NPS of a local store – only to find a major blind spot (competitor data) clouds your decisions.

You may be celebrating your leading NPS store only to find that they are out-traded by a customer preferred local competitor and not even know why. Or, indeed, placing too much (fixed) corporate focus or investment on a lowly NPS store performer who’s a top performer amongst its local competitors. The latter example can produce its own dysfunction or complacency – See the Philip’s example from Ultimate Question 2.0 –  but the competitor lens is still critical in making the best decisions.

I will talk about “how” to introduce this competitor data in a future post.