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4 Key Ingredients Fuelling Apple's High Net Promoter Score®

by Cvetilena Gocheva

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Financial Services NPS® Benchmarks

by Cvetilena Gocheva

Apple is one of the biggest advocates of the Net Promoter Score®. The multinational technology giant introduced the NPS system back in 2007 and since then has been systematically listening to customers and managing its business in response to their needs.

Since rolling with NPS, Apple has achieved one of the highest scores in any sector, reaching 89 in 2016. However, the retailer’s high NPS did not happen by pure luck. It was achieved through careful listening to customer feedback, quick closing of the loop and engaging all Apple employees with NPS.

Here are 4 key ingredients fuelling Apple’s world class NPS.

1. Start with customer experience

The late Apple visionary Steve Jobs realized that the key to a sustainable business growth is customer-centricity. That is why every new Apple product was carefully designed according to customer needs and wants. Similarly, the company focused a lot of its business efforts in selling an experience, not only a product.

You've got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology - not the other way around.” - Steve Jobs

Think of Apple’s retail store experience, for example. Apple stores get more than 1 million visitors per day worldwide. That's at least 365 million people per year. In comparison, Disney theme parks only get about 130 million visitors per year. Why do so many people visit the Apple store? Simple—because of the extraordinary experience you get in the Apple store.

Shop assistants are encouraged to form an ongoing relationship with customers that delight and inspire. Moreover, each employee is trained to walk a customer through five steps that spell out the acronym:

A-P-P-L-E:

A: Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome

P: Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs

P: Present a solution for the customer to take home today

L: Listen for and resolve issues or concerns

E: End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return

Apple employees use the same steps with every new product the brand releases. As a result, customers would leave the store delighted and tell their friends and colleagues about their wonderful experience at the store and thus become brand evangelists.

2. Listen to customers

As previously mentioned, Apple was one of the first proponents of the Net Promoter Score. In his book, The Ultimate Question, Fred Reichheld explains how the brand uses NPS to listen to customers and make decisions based on their feedback. The company emails surveys to customers right after they have made a purchase. Customers are asked to rate their satisfaction level and likelihood to recommend the brand. Because the surveys are sent immediately after a purchase, Apple is able to capture accurate feedback that is still fresh in customers’ minds. According to Reichheld, Apple also uses NPS on a daily basis when managing their stores globally:

“Comments from customers help store managers prepare for service recovery calls with detractors to close the feedback loop. The outcomes of these calls, together with the customer comments, provide important coaching and feedback messages that are passed along to employees.” (p.130)

Apple’s centralized NPS team uses customer feedback to better understand the reasons that turn customers into promoters or detractors. Furthermore, Apple’s team does a daily standup, where employees review the NPS feedback received and discuss how to adjust their work accordingly. In this way, the company makes sure its employees understand the importance of paying attention to customer feedback and delighting customers.

Here’s an example of what one of Apple’s NPS surveys looks like:

Apple.png

3. Quickly Close the Loop

Following an NPS survey, Apple store managers call detractors within 24 hours. Research has found that companies that close the loop quickly after receiving customer feedback, experience a 10% increase in retention. This is even more important when it comes to closing the loop with detractors. Apple has found that by following up with dissatisfied customers 24 hours after completing an NPS survey has resulted in great return on investment. Reichheld highlights that detractors that have been contacted have purchased subsequently more Apple products and services than others. Furthermore, every hour spent calling detractors was generating more than $1,000 in revenue or additional sales of $25 million in the first year. 

You can find more information on how to close the loop with customers to generate better business results like Apple here.

4. Engage all employees with NPS

Apple was also one of the first proponents of the idea that having employees as your brand promoters is equally important as well. Employees are one of the first points of contact customers have with your brand. Therefore, it is important that employees are true brand evangelists, capable of turning customers into promoters as well. How does Apple achieve that?

The company sends NPS surveys to its employees every 4 months and measures their likelihood to recommend Apple as a place to work. Surveying employees in such a way is called employee Net Promoter Score or eNPS. Ensuring employees that their feedback matters helps Apple build trust among the team. Moreover, explaining to employees how their feedback is being used and linked to business initiatives keeps them engaged with the customer experience programs.

We have found a very interesting research by ForeSee, showing how Apple’s high employee engagement has lead to the highest levels of customer satisfaction with the brand (See image below). As a result, customers are delighted with the brand and are happy to recommend Apple’s product and services to their friends and family.

ForeSee_Experience_Index-US_Retail-2016_pdf 2.png


Finally, Apple makes sure employees know where they stand among their peers in terms of NPS and where their stores stands relative to the rest of the stores in the region. In this way, the company further engages all employees with the NPS program.  

Conclusion

Today, Apple continues to pay attention to customer feedback and customer experience. They use NPS to continuously gauge customer satisfaction, and, as a result, are one of the major leaders in NPS. Apple has achieved a world-class Net Promoter Score by using four key tactics—starting with the customer experience, not the product; careful listening to customer feedback; quick closing of the loop and engaging all Apple employees with NPS. Buying, opening and using an Apple product is a memorable experience for customers, which leaves them satisfied with the brand and happy to recommend to friends and family. The company pays close attention to customer feedback received from NPS surveys and uses it on a daily basis to manage their three-hundred plus stores. Quickly closing the loop with detractors has helped Apple generate a good ROI with increased sales. Finally, engaging all employees with an NPS program has led to increased trust among the team and high customer satisfaction. These four steps have become key ingredients fuelling Apple’s strong NPS.


P.S. Wonder where to find some best practices on customer retention? We've got you covered! Find the eBook on Retention Management below to learn how to make customers coming back. 

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