CenturyLink Turns the Tables on NPS

The communications company just completed its first internal NPS survey to gauge the effectiveness of employees.
Customer Experience

For more than 10 years, Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been used by organizations to measure and improve their customers' loyalty. Today, some companies are turning NPS on themselves as a benchmark for internal improvement.

CenturyLink, a communications and media company, for example, uses NPS as a metric to gauge the effectiveness of its internal processes, departments, and individual employees within them. The company completed its internal NPS survey in June and is currently analyzing the results.

Here, Jon Windley, vice president Business Customer Experience, discusses how the program works, the resulting benefits, and the company's plan to eventually link internal NPS with its customers' NPS.

When did you launch your VOC program?

We are early in the rollout of the employee piece of the entire customer experience program. We have a reasonable new NPS program for customers on the business side and we're just starting to roll out the full-blown program. The essence of it is in addition to the normal customer relationship surveys we're doing, we are just through the first deployment of four internal NPS surveys. We have a unique way of doing it. We are not doing it to get feedback on general things. What we asked employees to do is pick three internal organizations they work with on a regular basis and give them an NPS score and tell why they gave the score. What you then create is a picture of a specific group. We've done it for all the customer-facing organizations in CenturyLink.

What is the benefit of that?

You create a story around each of those teams. We have 90-plus organizations. Of those 90 organizations, 30,000 employees were invited to pick any of those groups and comment on a theme. This is a different approach to employee engagement. What we're trying to get at are several things, such as how well that team works with other teams. Ultimately, they're getting a sense of collaboration.

Are they required to give verbatim comments?

They aren't required, but boy do they. Roughly more than one-third of the employees filled out the survey with an average of three comments per employee. We had well over 30,000 comments.

How are those insights shared with the organization?

We have the customer experience team using Verint's Impact 360

Speech Analtyics go through and look for significant word pairings, themes, and things that are significant. Then they slice and dice the data different ways. And then we look at it horizontally. We'll look at a particular product set and then something jumps out.

When we do the survey we ask, would you recommend this organization? And how collaborative are they? That's the essence of this survey. If we improve collaboration we will create a better customer experience. We also ask how well do each team's processes work and then we ask them to rate those processes. Also, how well do they communicate? The whole point is we are trying to create a picture for each organization for how the teams around them relate to them. The expectation is once you receive the information like the scores and verbatim comments for your teams, you will take your experience and you will create improvement plans. It's about, 'how can I get better?' In this case all analysis is local. It's about team themes. It's not about these global themes across the organization. We then ask each team to put together a one-page improvement plan for each organization.

We want each organization to get better. There's no recipe there. Some groups may get a negative number here. It depends on what they think they need to do to create a better customer experience.

Is the intention to connect this with customer feedback?

The intention is to create what amounts to a relationship survey. We'll look for intersection points with customers to see if additional focus is needed in certain areas. Those are our next steps.

What tools and technologies are you using to analyze the feedback?

All the external and internal surveys are in the Verint platform. We use the VerintImpact 360 Speech Analytics tool to do the analysis. We also have a team of four going through the verbatim comments using keyword pairing.

Did you have a hard time selling this idea initially?

The executive team embraced it. There were no barriers.

What insights and outcomes do you expect as a result of these efforts?

The first is we absolutely expect to see improved collaboration across teams throughout the customer corridor and to get better at collaborating to support customers. The second thing is if we get this right our employees will be happy. They'll be better at their jobs and they'll get a better experience. Happy employees typically mean happy customers. If I do those two thingsand I'm taking the information and trying to fix issues within organizations, I'll also have better processes. I'm taking this information to Six Sigma black belts to fix our processes.

What advice do you have for others considering such an approach?

Embrace the process because it's hard. You'll get feedback, but for some teams it will be difficult to hear and take action based on those insights. Anytime your employees are willing enough to help you, be willing to accept that information, take it to heart, and do something to make their experience a better one.

Are there mitigation plans in place for teams that score really low?

We are baseline. We'll do another survey next year and then look at the results. It doesn't really matter where your scores are the first time. Next year I want to see the scores improve. The beauty of this survey is that it's extremely hard to manipulate. It's the elegance of what we're doing.