Customer Experience Partners

Blog | Introduction | About Us | Services | Weekly Insights Emailer | Philosophy | Articles and Publications | Contact Us

This site  The Web 

Welcome to our Blog

The world of Customer Experience Managment and the

challenges we face are changing each day.
 Please post your views and comments, or contact us directly at to let us know what you think.

Archive Newer | Older

Monday, October 26, 2015

Should We Abandon "Push” Marketing Research and Adopt "Pull” Marketing Research?



The terms “push” and “pull” have been referenced in marketing discussions and textbooks for some time.  Technically the terms mean:
Push marketing: traditional marketing practices in which content is directed towards consumers generally through the mass media (advertising; direct mail; collateral materials; are all examples).
Pull marketing: a relatively new perspective in which consumers self-select and seek out information about a product or brand.


The Influence of the Internet


Arguably, the internet probably was the greatest impetus for the evolution towards pull marketing.  But, we shouldn’t disregard the fact that the typical consumer has become far more sophisticated than his or her counterpart of 25 years ago.  While the internet is a great facilitator, consumers might have been ready to ‘take over’ the flow of information even without it.  Accepting this radical redirection, a recent article in the GreenBook Marketing Research Newsletter proposes that marketing researchers “understand the paradigm shift in consumer behavior that continues to rapidly proliferate: people are increasingly ignoring push marketing, and embracing inbound, or pull marketing.”
The inference?  Adopt “pull marketing research”.


Hold On!  Are We Trying to Monitor Opinion or Please Respondents?


We find this conclusion unnerving.  It suggest a lack of understanding the importance of random sampling; randomness being the key to interpreting a survey’s results as representing any population.  Instead, it seems pragmatically driven to accept whatever form of information collection is easiest and will be most embraced by respondents.  It can’t be denied that:



  • Fewer and fewer people are willing to participate in spontaneous randomized surveys these days;


  • More and more organizations are openly recruiting participation through offered links or established ‘community panels’


  • Online ads or blog postings routinely ask for 'volunteers' for online polls - we wonder how many such polls are reported as 'research results'...;



Yes, this is the reality.  But recognizing the practices exist shouldn't compel us to modify our research methods.  The acceptance of such practices shouldn't be extended to an endorsement of their correctness!
Theory-based marketing researchers have striven to come to peace with this evolution of practice.  However, there is no real accommodation in scientific sampling theory to allow potential participants in a survey to ‘self-select’ themselves.  Doing so transforms a true scientific survey into a mere ‘straw poll’ among a group who can’t be ascertained to be representative of any body of customers except themselves.

Some Constructive Suggestions to Cope with the Evolving Customer
An alternative strategy to cope with today’s far lower cooperation rates with true marketing surveys is to substantially change our survey practices, by:



  1. Shortening our information objectives to two or three major learnings, thereby keeping surveys down to 3-5 minutes in length;


  1. Impressing consumers with the responsiveness the research community gives survey results, thereby encouraging future participation;


  1. Creating survey questions that are coherent, easily understood, and easily answered.


  1. Thinking carefully before asking a question; is it truely critical (or just a 'nice to know' issue).  Need we bother respondents to answer or is the information available through observational sources?


  1. Rewarding survey participants with something of value – not necessarily a monetary gift, but something that will be appreciated.  An inexpensive - though often overlooked - way to reward participants (in certain types of studies) is to offer them a copy of the findings ('sanitized', of course).


3:51 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mistaken Assumptions About Net Promoter Scores

How did the C-Suite in your organization react to your latest NPS scores?  Executives new to the process might react with disappointment or uncertainty.  After the formula for the NPS score is explained, reactions may soften but yet unrealistically high goals may still be set for the future.  "Let’s shoot for 75 someone might proclaim!"  (Most of us recognize that scores at that level are few and far between; reached only by standout organizations like the USAAs of the world).

Now suppose your NPS score is a 45 - and that’s a truly outstanding score for your category.  How would your senior executives interpret that? If they understand the NPS calculation (“Promoters” [those customers awarding a 9 and 10] minus “Detractors” [those customers awarding only a 6 through a 0]) they might quickly draw a mental picture of 45% of your current customers rushing out to enthusiastically recommend your brand to friends and colleagues and to generate all sorts of positive word of mouth for your brand.

Unfortunately That's Probably Not a Very Realistic Assumption

For several reasons even the best of brands doesn’t have 20%, 40% or certainly not 60% of its customers recommending the brand to friends and colleagues.  Why?

  • Customers are actually answering a different question - Now that the NPS question has become so familiar to most consumers, they interpret the “recommend” question as just a different way of asking “how satisfied are you”? Or they subconsciously add the condition, “if you were asked would you recommend the brand”? to the question.
  • Only a minority of consumers generate all the recommendations and word of mouth - Per the study from EngageSciences that we reported in our September 16 issue, virtually all the earned media and conversions a typical brand obtains through all of its social media efforts originates from just 4.7% of the brand’s customers.  (That doesn't include activity in the private social media, but it's still an incredibly small proportion.)
  • Lack of brand knowledge - Most consumers just don’t know enough about a given brand or don’t consider themselves equipped enough about a given category to actually make recommendations.
  • Protecting the value of their word - In reality the idea of making a recommendation to close friends and colleagues can be inhibiting for many consumers unless they are absolutely sure a better option does not exist.

So Then, What Does that NPS Score Really Mean?

To provide senior management with an objective and accurate understanding of what your NPS score means you really need to be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What are your “Promoters” (those who scored your brand a 9 or 10 on the likelihood to recommend question) actually writing and saying to their friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers?  How are they describing their experience with your brand?
  2. How frequently are they “promoting” your brand?  To how many people?  Through what medium? And are they waiting to be asked or are they volunteering their opinions?
  3. What are your “Detractors” (those who scored your brand a 0 - 6 on the likelihood to recommend question) actually writing and saying to their friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers?  How are they describing their experience with your brand?
  4. How frequently are they talking to others about your brand?  To how many people?  Through which medium(s)? And are they waiting to be asked or are they volunteering their opinions?
  5. What are the positive themes that are common among both groups that should be leveraged in future sales and marketing, and what are the negatives that must be overcome?
  6. How really different are the 'stories' the two groups are telling about your brand?  Does your brand possess a 'universal story'?

With answers to these questions, NPS scores can be used more effectively to: set priorities, drive future brand strategy, and promote to greater success for your brand.  Our Buzz Barometer™ service provides answers to these questions and more.

5:51 pm edt          Comments

Archive Newer | Older


Customer Experience Partners, LLC
Measurement, Management, Optimization
Contact us at: 203-655-0090 or

Powered by