ZOOM International has an 82+ NPS (Net Promoter Score®), placing it ahead of companies like Apple, Amazon, and eBay and way above every B2B technology company score we've seen or heard of. In a recent interview, we asked CEO Brian Shore how ZOOM was able to achieve this unprecedented score.
Q: An 82+ NPS is really amazing, especially in B2B software, it puts you in the best-in-the-galaxy class. But what does that really mean?
For anyone who doesn’t have an NPS calculator in their head, what our score means is that 93.2% of the time we score an 8, 9 or 10 when customers or partners are asked, "How likely is it that you would recommend ZOOM International to a friend or colleague?" Basically, this means the majority of our customers and partners say things like “ZOOM has awesome customer support, along with a great product, and I'd tell other people to use it.”
Q: Why is the NPS score so important and why does ZOOM think it is authentic?
Net Promoter Score is a proven metric that has transformed the business world and provides the core measurement for customer experience management programs globally. The score means we are the industry’s leading customer service company.
But Net Promoter is not the only way we are measuring our success.
We corroborated these findings with extensive customer feedback work done by DMG over the last three years. They interviewed 45 of the competitors in our space, talked to five referenced customers per, and we’ve been in the top seed ranking in that three years in a row. I don’t know of anyone else who’s done that.
And over the past four years, Gartner’s described our strength clearly as our service experience, our ability to serve the needs of both the end user and the channel partner. We’re really proud of that.
Q: So, what is the secret to having so many customers as fans?
Our company exists to create great customer experiences and serve the needs of others, “others” being our partners, employees and end users. We’re customer centered company, both in how we treat people and how we actually do the service. It is a leadership decision and not just products or generic services. It’s simply who we are, it’s part of our culture, and it’s in our hallways.
Q: That sounds nice, but how do you prove it?
Besides the above? Well, we’ve never had a product returned in the history of our company, never had a lawsuit, and our maintenance renewal rate shows incredibly low customer attrition. The people who know us, love us.
Q: Okay, you can prove it. How did you do it?
Well, first we measure it. We analyze detailed customer feedback in an open, collaborative executive team meeting every Monday morning. We look at negative feedback and ask “What can we change in our process so that we either eliminate or minimize the risk of that happening again, of not delighting the end audience?” We look at that feedback as a gift, we take that data, don’t argue it and make process change. We think that data’s gold.
Three years ago, we were at 66%, which is an incredible baseline to start, there’s only one or two other B2B software companies that I know of that post at least a 60%-plus number. It’s been a careful, thoughtful, purposeful process for two to three years, something that we hold near and dear to our hearts. We know that if our customer success and partner success pull through, our company’s success and financial success will go along with that.
Q: And all this data led to what actionable insights?
We found that there were three areas that we needed to improve, that represented about 90% of our poor NPS scores. The first was communication, like letting a case languish without proactive communication. The second was transferring an engineer for the third time in a case history, because then the customer has to repeat themselves. The third was third party issues, like a network or something with the communications platform.
So over the last 24 months we’ve put processes in place to solve those issues, and experienced some of the best growth of the past several years. I think it’s directly attributable to our passion for the customer-partner experience that we’re seeing those NPS numbers. We know our hearts are in the right place.
Q: Most CEOs don’t make this a priority. Why do you?
People love to do business with a company where they can feel that the culture of empathy and caring starts at the top. We look to certain customer experience leaders to align ourselves with as best in class. USAA is tops in NPS, they have one of the best service cultures around, and when you look at their training you understand why, it’s amazingly customer-centric — they work exclusively with military families. During training, employees eat the same MRE meals soldiers do, and read actual letters home from soldiers to get a feel for who they’re serving.
Q: Who else is a shining example of customer satisfaction?
Southwest Airlines is a company we admire tremendously, and one I’ve studied extensively this past year up at Harvard. It’s clear that [founder] Herb [Kelleher] simply decided “We’re going to love our customers.” Their heart logo’s everywhere, their stock ticker’s LUV, and they walk the talk. The stories are legendary -- the pilot personally holding a flight so a grandfather could get to see his dying grandson, the ticketing agent rebooking without charge somebody who mistakenly got off at the wrong city, the flight attendant taping a kid’s drawing up for everybody to see, amazing.
Zappos embeds “wow experiences.” Here’s a company who praised a contact center agent for spending eight hours on one call, since that’s a personal connection that customer isn’t going to have with any other company. They encourage their agents to find those personal encounter opportunities, not just get the customer off the call as quickly as possible. One time an agent realized the shoes the customer wanted weren’t in stock, and weren’t available online anywhere, so she went to a mall, purchased a competitor’s shoes personally, sent them to the customer — and Zappos gave her an award. That is a customer-centric culture like few others.
Q: What can companies seeking to emulate ZOOM take away from how you do business?
We eat our own dog food. We use our own technology that we built in-house to stay successful. We use ZOOM products in our own call centers, which means that we see how our products work first hand, and can quickly understand any issues our customers encounter.
We also know that we can’t improve by putting our head in the sand. Whenever we do get a negative promoter remark, I personally respond to every single one on the same day, just to let them know we care.
Concentrate on making your customer’s experience better every day, and you can't go wrong.
Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld, and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.