The NPS ‘popularity index’ reflects the willingness of customers to recommend and advocate a company’s products or services on a scale from -100 to +100. But there are times when the NPS gives companies a critical insight, notably when implementing a major change.
As a major force in the competitive real estate market, Rockend Technology needed to switch long-term customers used to its desktop software to its newer, cloud-based service while maintaining their brand loyalty.
Scott Downing joined Rockend 18 months ago as Chief Customer Officer. His brief was to migrate existing customers to the company’s SaaS product, Property Tree, and to look at how customer experience was being handled in that transition to maintain high retention rates.
“The problem is those loyal customers don’t want to make that switch, so that’s my challenge,” Downing says.
Rockend needed to deliver the best CX possible, or risk being overtaken by its competitors.
“It’s a fast-paced environment, and what differentiates us is our customer experience.”
A Changing Landscape: Moving to SaaS
Like most industries, the real estate property management sector is changing from ‘download and install’ software models to cheaper, more efficient cloud-based solutions. This poses particular problems for software providers who must maintain high quality support services to customers who now rely on phone and internet interactions to solve their IT issues.
With 250 employees in Australia and New Zealand, Rockend Technology specialises in providing software for the real estate industry. It services 60% of the rental property market across both countries.
At the recent CX Innovation and Tech Fest event, Downing outlined each step towards a customer-centric service model.
Step 1: Gathering Customer Data
Downing says moving towards a customer-centric model requires data. You also need to allow employees to become advocates for the new processes that place the customer first. To collate this data Rockend introduced a Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer feedback tools.
“Within six months we launched My Hub, The Voice and our Customer Innovation Lab – three things we knew would help our employees become customer advocates,” he says.
- My Hub is the Qualtrics system used for all Rockend surveys. If someone’s talking to a customer, they can go on to the intranet or their smartphone and report ‘the customer said this and this’ and it goes to the insights team.
- The Voice is the collective name for the Qualtrics system, named by the staff to further their engagement as the customer advocacy concept took hold.
- The Lab is a physical space branded with Bunsen burner graphics and white lab coats. This is where staff do their design thinking and where focus groups are held.
Step 2. Building Data Capabilities
The next step was building data capabilities to deliver improvements. Using NPS, Rockend gathered data through customer focus events.
“So our employees have bought into the new customer model, we have real data, and we’re starting to understand that data against brand, products, price and service,” Downing says.
“I then presented to the board to show that our Strategic NPS was +27. Our competitors are -3 and +4. So that gives me some kudos to say we’re doing the right stuff and we need to do some more. When we launched the interaction NPS we were at +54, which is pretty good. We are now consistently at +80.”
Step 3. Training the Call Quality Team
Downing describes the end of financial year in the real estate industry as “like hell on earth”.
“At the end of last financial year we were at +12. This year we came out at +92. We took 5,000 more calls and answered them in half the time we did last year. Because our people want to give good service and they feel like they’re equipped to do that.”
Rockend now has a Call Quality Team, and from a culture perspective there’s a Customer Champion network to get employees involved.
“We’ve also looked at our reward and recognition scheme. There are also Customer Champion and Best NPS awards, and every Wednesday we stop for a morning tea and discussion. “
Step 4. Achieving Customer Focused Results
The changes were subject to a three-step monitoring process: check, prototype, make normal. It’s important to look at the interaction in customer terms, then map out the terms and conditions that apply to that interaction.
New processes are checked with real customers, then there’s a period of normalising the change, embedding it in the workplace so the measures become processes that employees live and breathe by; they become second nature across the organisation.
“Real customers tell us whether it’s better or not, then we use that data to instigate the changes,” says Downing.
“We’ve seen NPS move by 10 points just by doing that on a single core pod, because we’re capturing the right data.”
Learning From Past Experience
He also gained valuable insight from past experience. While working at Telstra, Downing supervised its “I Want to Move” contact centres. At the time, the centres had the second-worst NPS in the whole of Telstra – and the biggest issue was complaints.
“Initially, out of 33,000 calls a month, only 9% were satisfactorily resolved on the first call. It turned out the average Telstra customer move required 15.2 contacts,” he says.
“No one in the business could see this from the customer perspective. So I presented this to the Telstra executive, and they were amazed. The moral is that if you capture the essential data, it stacks up because you can report on it and change opinions.
“When we used the new prototype way of handling calls in a controlled environment, we got an NPS of +80. Bear in mind that we started out with a negative NPS! So we scaled up the new way of working and they maintained +73, and it’s still in the 70s from what I understand.”
Justifying Development Spend on CX Key
Downing initially struggled to find a way to show the value of the CX program to the company. So he drafted an economic model, which was presented to Rockend management to get their support for change.
The model looked at the demand types coming in and their volumes, failure rates and expected revenue should those demands and failure rates be reduced through redefining towards a customer-centric approach.
“You look at the waste within the system, such as time savings you can make by reducing data entry steps, or how low attendance at training webinars needs to be boosted to increase employee knowledge. You show how to cut onboarding, data entry and migration time,” he says.
“Then you show how the system changes result in financial benefits: savings on onboarding, consulting and cycle time.”
Clear Evidence and Advocacy Underpin Change
Downing says the justification for the change needs to be based on hard data, and if the company does not have that data, the process of change cannot begin.
To move towards a customer-centric model of business, there needs to be clear evidence that to do so will improve services and enhance the company’s bottom line.
This can only be done by taking data and trialling new approaches in controlled environments.
Employees become advocates for the customer, and this can be furthered by creating Customer Champions who ‘see’ interactions from the customer’s point of view. With a product-agnostic approach, all customers are treated equally well.
“We now have a first-contact model,” says Downing.
“The only way I’ve been able to do that is by analysing the data we’ve captured. I now know why the customer calls us, what their product type is and how well we respond to that.
“We’ve shifted from a company that sells products and services, to a company that puts the customer experience first.”
Hear more from the boldest CX innovators at CX Innovation & Tech Fest.
About the Speaker
Scott Downing is Chief Customer Officer of Rockend. His key responsibilities are curating the customer and employee experience process. Since joining Rockend in 2016, he has deployed some powerful and insightful changes with a focus on continual improvement. Previous to joining Rockend, Scott held a number of key positions at Telstra, Capital One Bank and NAB (Europe).