Would your customers wear Mouse Ears? Where to focus your efforts to boost customer loyalty.


Having just returned from the Happiest Place on Earth, I’m left marveling at the Disney Empire. The brand is a powerhouse. Some (parents of children 12 and under) might even say the most powerful in the world.

What Disney excels at is creating not just theme parks or movies, but experiences that leave children – and maybe even a lucky adult or two – believing in magic. That’s not just the pixie dust talking; it’s what happens when quality and creativity combine to inspire a twenty-something to wear Mickey Mouse Ears.

Customer Loyalty

After all, Disney has tweaked the Field of Dreams mantra to make enough gold for Scrooge McDuck to dive into: If you merchandise it, they will come (and buy it all).

Sadly for most companies in the B-to-B world, you aren’t going to get much business selling industrial mouse ears. And no matter how great your logo, you’ll be hard pressed to find customers taking out their pocketbooks to help advertise your company on anything that can be embroidered.

But an unadorned customer base doesn’t mean you don’t have a legion of mouseketeers who are fiercely loyal to your brand. A great tool to measure customer loyalty is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Developed by Satmetrix, Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld, NPS is a metric that helps drive improvements in customer loyalty and enable profitable growth. The survey is designed around one question: On a scale of zero-to-ten, how likely are you to recommend [company] to a colleague or friend?

Those who answer 9 or 10 are your Promoters, or the ones who’d wear your company’s mouse ears. Customers who answered 7 or 8 are deemed Passive, while anything six and under are brand Detractors. The scale is categorized as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

Once you’ve identified the percentage of Detractors and Promoters, you can subtract the former from the latter to calculate the Net Promoter Score.

In an article in the October 2011 issue of Quirk’s Marketing Research Review, TARP researchers argue that the Passives are actually the most important to identify: “Customers who are seemingly happy – or are at least not angry – deserve more attention than most companies give them. Despite their apparent satisfaction, these consumers could be poised to sow discontent with your brand.”

The researches base this on three main points. First, they are vocal and more likely to say something negative because they are less loyal. Secondly, the group often represents a large part of your overall customer base and should not be overlooked. And lastly, this group offers the biggest opportunity to move up the scale to Promoters.

That’s why we recommend allowing survey participants to provide feedback on why they rated your company as such. You can even identify areas where you think your company is strong or weak and have customers select what they feel is your best area or your worst.

Being able to create action items from your survey findings will help you strengthen the way you do business while giving you greater potential to transform Passives to Promoters. The most successful companies build an operational model with Net Promoter as the focal point.

What are some ways you engage your Passives to move them into the Promoters category? Let us know in the comments below.


Sarah Z. • January 11, 2012

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