Customer-centricity has become something of a buzzword and now underpins the strategic direction of most organisations. “Placing the customer at the heart of everything we do” is a noble intention and can act as a litmus test for decision making. However, if everyone’s doing it, how can organisations establish a sustainable competitive advantage?
Customer-centricity now looks very different from what it did 20 years ago. The digital age has closed the knowledge gap between consumer and “trusted adviser”, resulting in subject-matter expertise losing its currency. Customer-centricity becomes about “delighting” the customer and “going the extra mile” rather than simply providing the requisite information and handling the transaction.
For the broking industry, customer-centricity can mean providing exceptional outcomes, acting in the customer’s best interest, delivering what you say you will – or all of the above. How you define it matters less than how you measure it. You need robust metrics to track performance over time, identify development opportunities and tweak and pivot your approach where necessary. Doing so is what will allow you to deliver on your customer-centric ethos, thereby satisfying customers, shareholders and the regulator.
It makes sense that you’d measure customer-centricity by asking your customers how they perceived the experience. Banks use the standard NPS or CSAT, or their own in-house version (a star rating, for instance) to measure and track whether they’re fulfilling their goals for customer-centricity. For the purpose of this article, I’ll focus on the most ubiquitous: Net Promoter Score (NPS).
For all the benefits of having a single, simple number to track, there are three significant limitations that the broking industry is well positioned to overcome – in contrast to the banks.
- Sampling bias
In face-to-face sales, you need the customer’s contact details to be able to invite them to answer an NPS survey. For banks, this means they only collect data on the experience of those customers who’ve agreed to transact with them. The experience delivered to customers who choose not to proceed with a sale usually isn’t measured.
Imagine understanding the experience of those customers who didn’t buy, and then comparing this to those who did? This insight would give organisations a better shot at pinpointing which elements of customer service are effective, and which don’t make a difference to the customer’s experience.
- Minimal qualitative data
While NPS is attractive in its simplicity, what’s more insightful are the verbatim comments, which can hint at the “why” behind the score. Banks receive relatively few verbatim comments back from customers – likely owing to the transactional nature of interactions, and the fact that the NPS question isn’t personalised (e.g. “How likely are you to recommend Michael Black to your friends and family?”).
- Limited use at a micro level
NPS and CSAT measures are typically very “noisy”, with customers struggling to separate the product, brand and previous experiences with other staff or channels (this is evident from the verbatim comments that are submitted). NPS then becomes less useful as a diagnostic tool. Recognising this, banks typically use NPS as a big picture indication of how they’re tracking, rather than as a way to measure the quality of the customer conversation.
What can the broking industry do that banks can’t?
Here are three ways that aggregators, franchise groups and even individual brokerages can collect better-quality – and therefore more actionable – data than their institutional counterparts:
- Reduce sampling bias: You can collect data from customers who didn’t proceed with the loan by virtue of having the contact details of almost all customers. Seeking feedback from detractors will make them feel heard and go towards mitigating some of their negative sentiment. You may even gain a promoter in the process!
- Maximise qualitative data: The NPS question can be tied to an individual broker, which has two benefits:
- Customers are more likely to provide relevant verbatim responses because they have a stronger relationship with the broker than the brand
- Any insights can be applied to the individual broker, which can be used to highlight development opportunities, reward good behaviour and even flag compliance issues
- Use insights at a micro level: Given there are fewer variables in the broker-customer relationship that have the potential to interfere with the NPS, there’s greater scope to track and act on an individual customer’s feedback and on the broker’s own NPS.
Sarah Barnett is the founder of Brokermatch.com.au, a platform that makes it easy for consumers to find the right broker. It is the only platform of its kind that collects Google-friendly reviews and private feedback in one fell swoop.
Sarah previously headed up marketing and innovation for a leading behaviour change consultancy where she spearheaded data-driven solutions for big banks, insurers, telcos and energy retailers. She has deep insight into the sales behaviours that high-performers consistently demonstrate to win and retain business.
She has been a member of the Australian Market & Social Research Society since 2013 and stays on the cutting edge of voice-of-customer research.