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Customer Experience

Improve your net promoter score (NPS) and improve your customer service

Anneli Knight
Smarter Writer

Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

Anneli Knight
Smarter Writer

Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

The old word of mouth saying goes: If you please a customer they’ll tell one person, but give them a bad experience and they’ll tell seven. Here’s how to improve customer service and flip those figures and get the good rap ‘brand ambassadors’ to tell seven people.

Birdsnest is one business that has been able to get seven happy customers to spread the word with better customer service and has grown exponentially because of it.

Jane Cay launched online women’s clothing store Birdsnest in 2004 with three staff. By 2015 her business had an annual turnover of more than $20 million. Today it employs around 140 people and supplies over 200 brands (including 8 that they design themselves). And Jane’s happy to share the secret to her success on how to improve your NPS.

 “Our strongest growth has been through word of mouth. We’ve chosen to grow from a small budget, and we haven’t thrown our money at marketing,” says Jane.

woman holding cat whilst being advised on food by veterinarian

Get everyone to refer a friend

Never discount implementing a great customer referral program. “The best referrals are word of mouth and generally that (referred) customer, even on their first purchase, will take more risks because they’ve already heard it’s easy to return things,” says Jane.

Jane’s philosophy for top customer service comes back to creating a happy workplace.

“Ultimately if you have a happy team, if they truly care about their role and what they do, about their contribution, then that automatically rubs off on your customers. My message is love your team, and they will love your customers.”

Birdsnest has created clear guidelines for staff, including mantras such as, ‘If in doubt, be generous’ – and every single parcel that is sent out of the warehouse includes a handwritten note to the customer.

Along the way Jane discovered the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and this has been a measure that Birdsnest is responding to very seriously.

The score is developed based on the rating that your customers give you on the question: ‘Would you recommend us and refer someone?’. If you receive an enthusiastic ‘yes’ score of nine or 10, the NPS rating gives you plus-one point. A score of seven or eight is neutral, and a score of naught to six gives you a minus-one point.

“My message is love your team, and they will love your customers.”

- Jane Cay, owner, Birdsnest
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A high promoter score equates to more profits

Research by global management consulting firm Bain & Company has shown that companies that achieve long-term profitable growth have good nps scores, two times higher than the average company.

Jane says she attended a customer service conference in 2014 and customer NPS was the buzzword. The airlines were talking about how to shift their NPS from negative to positive, says Jane.

As an experiment, the Birdsnest team spent a year focusing on the customers who returned a low NPS score, and through this process improved their returns system and updated their website.

“Our main goal is understanding our customer and improving their experience,” says Jane.

In another experiment, they focused on the girls who gave Birdsnest a great customer NPS score of nine or 10. One idea that came out of this process was to send these customers extra print brochures to distribute them to their friends, says Jane.

“These are the ones we want to talk with and do great stuff with – to make sure these people continue to feel appreciated.”

Originally published February 11th 2015. Updated July 30th 2019.

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