nps-social-bd-300x200By Laura Beaudin and Joshua Rossman

Social media and customer loyalty programs such as the Net Promoter System have advanced along largely separate paths of development. But what would their union produce? We think it could unlock significant growth in customer advocacy and lifetime value.

The rewards reaped by businesses that use the Net Promoter System have been well documented. Net Promoter companies commit to processes that help everyone focus on earning the passionate loyalty of both customers and employees. They regularly get feedback from customers about a recent experience or interaction. Based on a simple question or two—namely, “would you recommend X company to a friend or family member, and why?”—they classify customers as promoters, passives or detractors. They loop the resulting feedback to employee teams who discover the root causes of customers’ feedback and then take action to improve their experience. Because promoters buy more, stay longer, refer others to a company and often cost less to serve, gaining more of these customers improves a company’s overall economics.

While Net Promoter is a powerful tool, it’s no longer the only way customers share their views. Social media measurement and analytics tap a different stream of information—immediate, unfiltered consumer sentiment about a company’s products or services. Many companies focus on social media either to monitor their share of voice or to watch for eruptions that would trigger customer service reps to intervene. But that’s not sufficient. In most cases, businesses are still figuring out how to systematically convert social media information into improvements in marketing and the customer experience that will help to earn greater loyalty.

Blending social media analysis with Net Promoter offers a practical and effective means of putting the seemingly chaotic chatter on the web to good use, because the two channels complement each other. Social media typically provides raw consumer sentiment at a point in time, while Net Promoter, which captures a view of the consumer’s complete experience, tends to show broader intent. A few longtime airline customers might tweet their annoyance about a service slipup on a particular flight yet still give the carrier high marks overall and remain loyal. Combining social chatter with Net Promoter puts sentiment of the moment into the equation of intent.

Unearthing insights at Taco Bell

Restaurant chain Taco Bell works with data platform provider Quantifind to sort through the noise of social chatter to understand the signals that correlate with sales or profit performance. Taco Bell’s social analytics team has unearthed business insights from social media analysis that never showed up in its Net Promoter feedback. For example:

  • Restaurants that were first to launch the chain’s new breakfast menu showed an overwhelming response on social media. That response allowed Taco Bell to adjust preparation for locations that had not yet offered the new menu so that they could better meet demand. While the positive feedback would have been captured after the fact through Net Promoter, seeing a real-time view allowed Taco Bell to anticipate and prevent service issues that could have negatively affected customers’ experiences.
  • Social chatter often focuses on particular events or new menu items (such as the free breakfast for Cinco de Mayo) that would not show up in Net Promoter feedback.

Taco Bell’s insights tie to business outcomes, but now imagine how much more powerful this kind of analysis could be if a company knew whether the person posting comments was already a promoter or detractor. Both the Net Promoter team and social team could pinpoint opportunities to delight their advocates and quickly respond to detractor feedback before it gets amplified.