Have you heard of the Net Promoter Score? It’s an internationally recognized way of measuring customer satisfaction – which ultimately leads to profit growth, so it’s vitally important. Basically, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) says that you can put your customers into three categories by asking customers one simple question: How likely is it that you’d recommend so-and-so to family, friend or a colleague? Customers respond on a 0-10 point scale and are categorized as:
*9-10 are Promoters, those loyal enthusiasts who will continue to buy from you and support you, as well as referring others, fueling growth.
*7-8 are Passives, meaning they’re satisfied but unaffected, so vulnerable to competitor’s offerings.
*0-6 are Detractors, those unhappy customers who are vocal about their unhappiness and who can damage your brand and your growth through their negative word of mouth.
The Net Promoter Score is made by taking the percentage of customers who are Promoters and subtracting the percentage who are Detractors. Increasing your NPS is a sure-fire way of increasing your customer satisfaction and therefore profitable growth.
Kotahi recently celebrated an increase from 14% to a whopping, world-class 60% (that means a lot of promoters or raving fans!). Here, Zac de Silva outlines Kotahi’s road to success, through dedicated internal focus within Kotahi and in working with Business Changing.
Kotahi is an innovative Kiwi company that facilitates exporters and importers shipping and the supply chain of product all around the world. Their way of doing business is new and ground-breaking: they don’t own ships but act a bit like a travel agent, consolidating and proactively matching demand to supply in a way that provides the best service at the lowest price for customers and a sustainable return for the suppliers. As with all businesses that are innovative, it can take a bit of work for customers and potential customers to get their head around doing things in a new way, challenging the status quo and embracing change. But they’ve succeeded – Kotahi is now the biggest player in the NZ market and has seven of the biggest exporters in New Zealand as clients, including Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms. They handle around 40% of NZ’s containerised exports, making them the largest freight management company in NZ by a significant margin.
Business Changing has worked with Kotahi for a couple of years now (we do executive coaching, workplace engagement / culture work and customer experience work) . As part of our joint work on creating a customer experience roadmap, together, we do regular customer service surveys and once or twice a year we’ll ask, “Would you recommend us?” This gave us our starting NPS, which we have worked hard to change. We also sought feedback from Kotahi’s customers on how they thought we could improve customer experience.
“As with so many things, the message was clear: keep it simple, deliver on the key outcomes sought, communicate clearly and on a timely basis,” explains General Manager of Commerical Blair Morris. And so we did.
From the feedback from the first survey in 2012 (and as identified in our initial customer experience roadmap), Kotahi implemented a regular weekly newsletter to all customers and we started to hold more regular, face-to-face meetings (as opposed to just communicating via email and phone all the time). But the biggest change was improving employee engagement. Engaged employees give better customer service – it’s a fact. Staff won’t give good (or, even better, outstanding) customer experience unless they are happy in their workplace and work.
The experienced team at Kotahi were already pretty enthusiastic, but we wanted to improve that, and we did so by having a huge focus on the company’s values. There are core five: Driven to deliver; Inclusive & Cooperative; Innovative & Evolving; Positive & Nurturing; and Celebrating Success. (Read more about what these entail at http://www.kotahi.co.nz/our-values). This was helped by a very capable HR General Manager (Jay Padden) being so focused on creating a great place to work that lived and breathed its values.
It was important that in-house communication was stepped up, so the CEO Chris Greenough started giving regular updates of what was happening in the company. There was a focus on making meetings more effective. Internal customer experience was pushed, to ensure a more collaborative approach between the divisions and better teamwork. There was more of an emphasis on fun, as far as social events go. Then, to ensure we were on track, we’d do regular six-month employee checks.
“If we are to pinpoint the number one component underpinning the NPS success, I would say that it relates to the staff engagement we have at Kotahi,” says Blair. “We have a common sense of purpose to change things for the better and to deliver a better overall result for NZ. This underlying and common belief transfers through each staff who then seek to deliver the very best outcome and experience for customers, regardless of what role they hold within Kotahi.”
Through this process, it wasn’t just the staff who became more engaged – customers were too. They realised their opinion is welcomed and are now open to giving feedback for areas of business that we can improve on, a very valuable asset indeed.
And the biggest outcome from improving Kotahi’s NPS and customer experience?
“Probably the single biggest benefit we are experiencing is the impact from word of mouth. We are now seeing referrals and customers openly willing to recommend Kotahi as a solution to improve organisations supply chain practices and remove unnecessary cost by doing things differently,” says Blair.
If you need to improve on your customer experience and/or workplace engagement, get in touch for some business coaching – it’s one of Business Changing’s favourite areas of development! firstname.lastname@example.org. And Zac’s challenge to Kotahi – to facilitate more than 50% of NZ’s exports around the world (holy moley, that is a lot of containers!!)…