Written by: Vivek Jaiswal | Co-founder, Customer Guru
Since my return from Amsterdam, I have been repeatedly told that it’s great to have the experience of helping European organisations implement NPS, but I’ll have to keep the ‘Indian context’ in mind while implementing the same in India. Some even cast doubt on whether NPS is applicable in India because Indians rarely respond to surveys. It got me thinking if it’s actually true, if there really is an ‘Indian context’ to NPS. With respect to the same, I would discuss three major questions.
1. Is the NPS question relevant to the Indian community?
2. Do Indians have a relatively low response rate to surveys vis-à-vis people of other nationalities?
3. Can NPS be skewed because Indians are culturally inclined to give low scores?
I started by conducting small experiments locally. Whenever I went out to purchase anything of value – a new mobile connection, an Internet dongle, or new earphones for my iPhone, I would always ask the NPS question to the salesman:
Would you recommend this product to your friends and family?
It was a fun experiment because almost always it made the salesmen think for a while. It was different from asking ‘Is this product good?’ to which they instantly responded ‘Yes! It is one of the best set of earphones we have.’ But when asked the NPS question, I was given an honest answer – ‘you should buy this one instead because it has so and so advantages over the other one’ OR ‘absolutely, in fact a friend of mine has the same product and is very happy with it.’ Having run this simple experiment across several small and big purchases, I received the same level of engagement from the sales people. It reinforced my faith in the NPS question and it is safe to extrapolate the observation across all Indian organisations.
Now comes the question of whether we Indians have an inherently low response rate? That is to say that we rarely respond to surveys. I believe that culturally we are very enthusiastic about sharing our product knowledge with others. Like the rest of the world, we regularly seek and offer opinion about products/services we would like to or have used, often volunteering to help with purchasing decisions. Though offline, these are manifestations of customer feedback. Then why is it that companies fail to capture them? In a recent call with a prospective client, I was told – “Customers don’t have the time to respond to surveys.” it prompted me to think “Yes, as long as they are sent 10 page long questionnaires, the response rate will remain abysmal.” Traditionally customer surveys have been extremely lengthy. And, along with corporates, customers have come to believe that if it’s a customer survey; it will be lengthy. However, does the length of a survey really affect response rate? Well, our dear old Surveymonkey guys have the answer to that. As one of the most widely used survey platform, Surveymonkey studied around 100,000 customer surveys for a correlation between respondent dropout rate and length of the survey. The results are depicted in the following chart:
So, if you are a company that really wants to improve customer response rate, you have to cut down the number of questions. It’s that simple! Again, since NPS relies on asking just the two questions I mentioned earlier, its response rates are phenomenally higher than traditional customer satisfaction surveys. To give you some perspective, CustomerGauge, our technology partner, gets NPS response rate of >60% in B2B and >25% in B2C. This is across more than 130 countries that CustomerGauge receives responses from, India included.
Finally, some would also point that NPS could be skewed because of cultural bias: that Indians do not have a tendency to rate an organization very highly. However, in contrast to the notion, I believe Indians are more generous in that regards compared to their European counterparts. On a global scale if India scores lower than other markets, it should not be assumed to be because of a cultural bias, rather the service quality in India should be closely observed. As long as service levels are delightful, companies can be assured of receiving a 10 from Indian customers. Adam Dorrel’s (CEO CustomerGauge) blog – “Net Promoter: is there a ‘Dutch effect’?” corroborates this view.
It is important to understand that NPS is a way to measure customer delight and is a must have for every organisation. What Indian organisations really need to implement are the processes that make it easier for customers to share feedback and NPS facilitates that process most effectively.