Measuring The Customer Experience And Measuring Customer Retention

Company Name : Life Line Screening
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Life Line Screening, like many companies in this book, already had a sat- isfaction metric in place. In their case, it was called the net promoter score (NPS), which you’ll learn about in a moment. While valuable, NPS was not designed to generate the in-depth information needed by manage- ment to develop strategies for deeper relationship marketing engage- ment. As Eric Greenberg, vice president marketing, explained, Life Line used VOC research to gain that deeper level of customer insight.

Life Line Screening provides preventive screenings for approximately 1 million people a year in over 17,000 locations to help customers deter- mine their risk of disease. The painless, noninvasive, and affordable screenings can literally “see” inside your arteries to look for the plaque buildup (atherosclerosis) that causes most heart attacks and strokes; our blood tests look for common markers of disease such as elevated cholesterol and glucose. We help our customers determine their risks early—before they have symptoms—so that they can proactively work with their doctor to prevent an early death or major disability.

Since these kinds of preventive health screenings are not generally paid for by private insurance or Medicare, our customers must pay directly and out of pocket for our discretionary services. This means that consumers are free to purchase from us or a competitor or not at all. So, unlike some health providers, for us customer service means every- thing. If our customers are not fully satisfied that we have provided value for the money spent, they are under no obligation to return.

Life Line Screening has always been a data-driven company. We measure everything—response rates, call volumes, costs per labor hour, drive times, turnover rates, clinical accuracy, and hundreds of additional data points that help us determine whether we are deliv- ering our service efficiently, accurately, and promptly. And while we have always been customer focused, in early 2009 we decided as a company that we needed to do even more to put the customer first.

We were searching for a way to increase our understanding of our customer satisfaction—and ultimately, customer retention. We knew that what we had been doing was adequate, but we weren’t con- vinced it was superior. I think the turning point for us came when some people on our management team read Fred Reichheld’s book The Ultimate Question. Reichheld discusses the importance of under- standing a company’s “net promoter score,” or NPS. Companies obtain their net promoter score by asking customers a single question on a 0-to-10 rating scale: “How likely is it that you would recom- mend our company to a friend or colleague?”

We had been measuring the net promoter score since 2005, but only after reading the book did we start to recognize its importance in improving customer retention. The NPS question is included in our customer feedback survey that we e-mail to customers the day after they are screened. Thousands of customers complete the survey each month and contribute to our monthly NPS score. In June 2009, we kicked off our Customer First initiative. As part of that initiative, the company “adopted” five of the lowest-scoring NPS teams around the country to see if a concentrated effort could move the needle in a positive direction. Significant effort was placed on listening to customer feedback—positive and negative. A weekly reporting tool for our general managers and the adopted teams allowed them to review team-specific customer comments and scores on a real-time basis. Listening to customer feedback led to recognition of common themes of customer satisfaction and dissatis- faction. We then delivered training blasts to team members regardingkey Customer First concepts, which included being friendly, greeting customers, and minimizing wait times.

We then launched the 14-Point Customer Promise Program that was designed to set a high bar of expectations for our providing services to our customers and to remind our employees to put the customers first in all the things they do. We also made an effort to empower our frontline employees to handle common customer com- plaints and/or issues on the spot, rather than delaying resolution by having to seek permission from a supervisor.

After several months, we started to see a cultural shift within the company and among the adopted teams. Net promoter scores for the teams were rising, and adopted team protocols were rolled out across the rest of the company. As a result, net promoter scores for the latter part of 2009 and early 2010 have reached nearly 70 per- cent—world class by any standard.

More recently, we have recognized the need for deeper engage- ment with our customers. To help us understand their expectations for higher value relationships, we asked Ernan Roman’s firm to con- duct in-depth Voice-of-the-Customer research.

The Takeaways

The VOC research has reinforced our interpretation of the NPS data we were seeing, but it has also given us a much deeper qualitative level of understanding of what drives customer behavior.

In Life Line Screening’s case, our customers are actually quite sat- isfied with the service we provide and the value for the money (hence the high NPSs). Yet, sometimes customer satisfaction is not enough. Or, said differently, your customers can be quite satisfied with your product or service but view their experience with you as a worthwhile single event, not the beginning of an ongoing relationship.

What we are learning is that our customers trust us and value what we provide them—but they are looking for a deeper and ongoing engagement. This means that they are looking for us to be more proactive across all the customer touch points. If we want customers to truly value us as a part of their health-care team, we have to give them more—and often. Whether that means an outbound call to allay their fears before their first screening, or a call to ask them if they understood their screening results—they want more from us.

They are looking for us to help provide them information, solutions, and ideas that can help them stay healthy and independent.