There are, of course, many different ways to increase a Net Promoter Score. Tracking advocacy and corporate reputation since 1999, we have observed four steps across a range of businesses.
This blog covers step 4 following three previous blog posts. Step 4 is about delivering the very highest Net Promoter Scores and strongest reputations.
At Inside Story, our observation is that Brands that generate high strategic Net Promoter Scores are brands that evoke emotion.
The emotion engendered by brands is beyond trust, respect, or excellent customer service alone. They are admired brands.
According to influential stakeholders (like the media, opinion leaders, and corporate partners), admired brands have superior growth prospects, are well managed, and are often more innovative. People feel they know what the company stands for.
It is, however, the emotional aspect that differentiates them. Admired brands/companies with the highest Net Promoter Scores have something extra that makes them special. In brand terms, they have a persona often described as charismatic, attractive, or impressive. Their CEOs can sometimes seem to have a Midas touch.
Some of our observations are that admired companies are likely to:
- Embody success making people look up to them. Take Macquarie Bank, coined the millionaires factory. There have been some low points (the GFC), but the bank has the glow of success and a dose of the Midas touch and is also an Australian success story with a global presence (our next point).
- Generate pride through activating a sense of personal identification with the brand as Australians. For example, national airlines are often amongst the most admired brands. Qantas (the spirit of Australia) is still an admired brand despite a change of fortunes.
- Deliver innovations that transform people’s lives like the Cochlear and the bionic ear. Cochlear is an admired Australian company with a successful global business and a high share price. Notably, Cochlear is also an Australian success story here in Australia that some may feel a part of (see point 2 above).
- Provide thought leadership that paints a picture of a positive and sometimes exciting future. When coupled with business success, this is a compelling proposition. Take Tesla, which represents successful innovation in electric cars, space travel, and energy, etc.
- They are more likeable than other companies. Sometimes likability alone makes the difference to a highly admired company versus another company also capable, trusted but not liked. Take the car category. People feel good about their cars, even giving them pet names. Positive product category feelings may be one factor behind people’s admiration for Toyota along with its long-term leadership role in car manufacturing and consistent marketing (‘oh what a feeling’) for over 30 years.
- Deliver a superior customer experience. Emirates is one of the elite admired brands because of its reputation for an exceptional in-flight experience. Like hotels such as Ritz-Carlton, leisure and travel are among the few categories whether a superior customer service can underpin a high strategic NPS score. Otherwise, customer service in our experience plays a primary role as a driver of ‘detraction.’
- Have a clearly articulated strategy or proposition that is consistent over time. Consistency means that people feel they know what their company/brand stands for through effective leadership or consistent marketing. For a time, NAB former chief Andrew Thorburn was a very effective spokesperson, building expectations of the bank until his position became untenable. With a clear strategy message from Matt Comyn (the CEO of CBA), now known as ‘magic Matt’ by stakeholders, the bank looks to be on track to rekindle former glories targeting global leadership in digital innovation.
One word on ethics. Admired brands with the highest Net Promoter Scores are very susceptible to perceived ethical breaches. Scandals and negative ethical actions bring down companies that ride high, quickly destroying business value. Take James Hardie back when the asbestos scandal hit. The company went from icon to anathema within weeks. It has taken many years and significant restitution to rebuild some of this company’s standing.
A high Net Promoter Score comes from having a balanced scorecard: strong corporate capability perceptions based on a perception of success in all things, significantly if this success promises to transform people’s lives through innovation and is based on thought leadership that shines a light on the future.
This blog follows a series of 3 blogs covering how to drive higher strategic Net Promoter Scores.
Step 4: Achieving admiration through innovations that transform people’s lives and provide thought leadership.