When it comes to measuring Customer Satisfaction, customers start their interaction hoping they’ll be able to score businesses at a ten, it’s only what we do throughout our interaction with them that keeps their score up there or that gradually erodes that score down to zero.

When it comes to us thinking about retailers and the service we receive from them, there may be a tendency to only think of retail customer service in terms of traditional high street shopping outlets, with the likes of M & S, Tesco and Asda perhaps being some of the names at the forefront of our mind, however Banks are retailers too. The products they offer, such as the different types of accounts they have, may be less tangible than the tins of beans on the supermarket shelves or the cartons of milk in their fridge, however, the way they approach competition to give their customers the best value and quality of product is no different to how the supermarkets themselves approach it and is no different to how they approach the customer service they deliver either.

The Banks’ presence on the traditional high street may have reduced over the last ten years, however, it may be argued that the prevalence of the ‘big four’ banks is now greater than those of the ‘traditional retailers we were used to seeing there. And with the cornerstone of retailing being great products matched by great service, the Banking industry has long been focused on delivering both to an equally high standard. The yard stick by which the majority measure the success of their service delivery is Net Promoter Score (NPS), a measure familiar to the traditional retail sector too. As with all retailers the golden scores they’re hoping to achieve are nines’ and tens’, with a standard question being “on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very unlikely and 10 being very likely, how likely are you to recommend us based on the service you received today?” These higher scores suggest that the customer will proactively speak to their friends, family and colleagues about both the experience and the business itself.

Recent research by the Keller Fay Group has found that face-to-face word of mouth recommendation among friends and family drive more purchases than any other purchase influence. It’s an insight of vital importance to any business regardless of its size.

So just how important are personal recommendations?  Here are some of the key findings from the research:

  • Personal recommendations are the number one driver of consumer purchase decisions at every stage in the purchase cycle across 10 product categories studied, from banking to travel and from subscription entertainment to retail categories.
  • Recommendations are the number one factor across all stages of the purchase cycle, from becoming initially aware of a product, right on through to the actual purchase decision.  Other areas such as advertising or online sources of information are important for one or another phase but not throughout.  And none are as important as recommendations.  For example, advertising is important during the awareness building phase, while online activity, such as price comparison websites, social media, or ratings and review sites are important during the phase where consumers are deciding among several options.
  • Over 8-in-10 purchases influenced by a recommendation are influenced by people talking face-to-face.
  • The overwhelming majority of purchases that are swayed by recommendations are influenced by either friends or family. Every category studied, regardless of price point, was influenced by friends and family rather than more expert sources of advice, such as sales people.  Although “experts” mattered more when seeking advice from others in technical categories, such as mortgages, computers, and new cars, they were still overshadowed by friends and family when receiving advice.
  • Women are more likely to be influenced by a recommendation than men are, but recommendations play a big role for both genders.  This is consistent with a more generalised finding that women dominate the conversations both online and offline. Not only that, they seem to hold more influence when it comes to advice on purchasing decisions.

So with figures suggesting that over 80% of people are buying on the back of personal recommendation it’s clear why both Banks and more traditional retailers are aspiring to attain the highest NPS scores to both help in the retention and attraction of customers.

How might other businesses mirror this approach to reap the benefits? First of all they need to take the time to map out what it takes to get a 10 from their customers when it comes to Net Promoter Score (NPS)? What are the individual actions and expectations that customers’ are looking for from them in order to give them that perfect 10? They need to take the time to sit with their staff and tick off each one and make sure they have the clarity of understanding of how easy it is to start losing marks and moving down the NPS scale?

Have you ever looked at your business through your customers eyes? What score would you give the Service you give? If it wasn’t a 10, what do you need to focus on to get it there and what help do you need?  Remember – Give your Customers a Reason to Love You.

Michelle HolmesMichelle Holmes – Director – New Chapter Learning
Michelle is a highly experienced Training Consultant. She uses her skills and experience to help other learning professionals develop both their teams and their training content and also looks at how they can enhance their existing training and adopt e-learning and virtual learning as new delivery methods. Most recently she’s been working with Santander and the Department for Work and Pensions on some of their training.

About New Chapter Learning
New Chapter Learning, based in Northern England, is a leading independent Training Consultancy, working directly with businesses and offering specialist training design and consultancy services to other training organisations and large in-house teams. The business has an ethos of developing learning that sticks. They use a broad mix of training delivery methods, including online/practical and activity based learning experiences for individuals and groups. The business thrives on innovation and have led the way embracing mobile, virtual and e-learning as tools for all size organisations. Having developed their own 4As Customer Service eLearning Training, they’re now working with a 3D Virtual Reality company, developing a virtual Customer Service Training environment.

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