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NPS, follow-up helps Sony Canada improve customer experience

At SAP's Sapphire conference, Sony Canada's CIO explained how the net promoter score helped his business improve the customer experience.

ORLANDO -- Sony Canada already had customer satisfaction scores any company would be proud of, but that didn't stop the organization from revamping its customer feedback system -- and focusing heavily on the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Sony Canada first rolled out SAP CRM in 2001, segmenting customer data and adding analytics for the call center. By 2003, the company undertook the difficult process of putting all customer information into one repository and doing real-time integration from CRM to the other corporate systems. At the time, in a survey of Canadian consumers, 38% cited Sony Canada as the most trusted electronics dealer, far outstripping the next-highest company, Panasonic, at 7%. In the same survey 47% cited Sony as the perceived leader in electronics. And in a ranking of businesses with the best corporate reputation, Sony came in third after Google and Tim Horton's, a popular donut and coffee chain.

"I think everybody would be happy to have these numbers," said Wayne Ground, CIO of the Canadian division of the electronics giant, who detailed his company’s CRM journey at an American SAP Users Group (ASUG) session at SapphireNOW.

"Even with our numbers, that leaves a lot of opportunity to proceed,” Ground said. “In an era when products are quick to change and new competitors are coming out rapidly, everyone, including leaders, needs to find a way to differentiate wherever possible. We think we can do this with the customer experience."

 Customer feedback surveys and the net promoter score became the mechanism. Customers of Sony Canada are now invited to complete online surveys on call center interactions, website visits and retail store visits.

Each customer gets five touchpoint-specific questions: Was the employee knowledgeable? Friendly? Patient? Did the employee get a resolution for you? And the NPS question: How likely are you to recommend Sony Canada to someone else? Customers are also invited to include their own comments.

"The comments are probably the most valuable,” Ground said. “They give you something tangible to work with.”

Once Sony Canada has the feedback results, it uses them in several ways. For each detractor (people who scored 0-6 on the 10-point scale of whether they are likely to recommend the company), Sony Canada issues a support ticket. Each customer gets a follow-up contact from customer support. The promoters also receive a follow-up -- a coupon for future Sony Canada purchases.

In addition, daily reports are created and go directly to the company president each morning.

"You can be sure [that] if he sees an issue, he's phoning, emailing people, and they're going to be on top of it," Ground said. "What better way to get the pulse of the company than to find out what consumers are saying about you at your touch-points each and every day."

The marketing department also sees the results of the feedback directly on its CRM homepage and can track results according to the area it’s responsible for, such as retail.

Sony Canada runs SAP CRM and is currently on version 7.0. It has been running the Customer Interaction Center since 2003 and is using the survey functionality within SAP as well as analytics and BW and computer telephony integration with reverse look-up for incoming calls.

Ground didn't have a great deal of executive sponsorship of the program at the beginning, he said, but once the president started getting the emails and reports on a daily basis, he was quickly on board. That meant the rest of the organization was as well.

"When we went into this, we used the LOF method -- leap of faith," Ground said. "It wasn’t going to cost us a lot, but we had a sense of how much it costs to acquire a new customer, and it has to be cheaper and easier to retain customers."

And he was correct. Now, if there’s a follow-up ticket and it looks as if it took a long time to respond, it gets a lot of attention.

“We had to change culturally,” Ground said. “It wasn’t in people’s nature to respond to a consumer.”

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Now, he said, when a ticket sits in the system for a week or longer, it tends to get attention throughout the company.

The system has also helped Sony Canada adjust its agent monitoring and training. The company had been using call monitoring and screen capture software. Supervisors would select roughly five interactions per agent for evaluation and training. Now supervisors monitor calls based on NPS results.

"The ultimate test is what the consumer thought of that agent," Ground said.

So far, the results have been promising. Sony Canada has conducted more than 100,000 surveys and has seen a response rate of 23%. The promoters who receive coupons tend to use them, and sales transactions with those customers are 40% higher than the average purchase.

To complement the program, the company started an initiative to capture email addresses at the in-store locations. Once in-store managers and sales reps realized they were being evaluated, they caught on to the program pretty quickly, Ground said.

Sony Canada makes it a practice that customers are surveyed no more than once every 30 days. Ground also recommends that people keep their surveys short -- no more than five questions. For example, don't ask people what product they just purchased; that is something you should know already. And the follow-up contacts have really made a difference.

"When we phone back the day after they send in a survey, customers are blown away," Ground said. "They can't believe someone actually read it."

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