Why use the Net Promoter System in professional services?

"The net promoter system is a system for listening to, learning from and acting on client feedback." Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company. 

In professional services receiving client feedback is typically the exception, not the norm. More often than not, if you make a mistake you hear about it, but for the countless times you do your job well, you hear very little. 

Having a structured client listening process can help connect you to your clients in meaningful ways. For hard-working professionals most feedback is positive. It recognises your long hours and high degree of skill, care and attention.

Sometimes though, it can alert you to opportunities for improvement you weren't aware of, helping you professionally move from good to great. Other times, it may help you identify when a client relationship is more fragile than you'd like. The process itself can create the opportunity for intervention and for frank and open conversation, helping you rescue and strengthen relationships. 

Ultimately though it is about growing your practice. It is about ensuring that you maximise positive word-of-mouth and minimise the negative.   

One simple question
Developed by Fred Reichheld and Bain & Company, the Net Promoter System is used by leading personal services firms and businesses, including PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, BDO, Apple and Amazon, to measure and improve client satisfaction and loyalty.  

The extensive research of Fred Reichheld and Bain and Company found that the single most effective predictor of client loyalty was the question - on a scale of 0 to 10how likely are you to recommend this firm or business to a friend or colleague?

You then follow-up by asking – why? This provides clients with the opportunity to explain their top-of-mind reasons for giving you a particular score.

Net Promoter Score
The goal of the Net Promoter System (NPS) is to sort clients into categories that predict behaviours, enabling customised responses from the firm. 

Under the NPS there are three categories - Promoter, Detractor and Neutral. Bain & Company's research found that typically, Promoters are advocates for your firm. They provide referral business and a host of other benefits. Detractors, on the other hand, are generally dissatisfied and can damage your brand through 'bad worth of mouth'. Neutrals are satisfied but unenthusiastic and potentially vulnerable to switching firms, often without warning.

Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters produces a Net Promoter Score. A positive score indicates that you have more promoters than detractors, whereas a negative score indicates the reverse. 

It's the journey, not the destination.
Importantly, the value of NPS is not in the score. The value comes from the process – from establishing a structured process of client listening and then focusing the entire organisation around 'learning from and acting on' the valuable feedback that comes from clients. This process is the fuel that drives a continuous service improvement culture – the true source of sustainable growth. 

Greg Tilse