Phil Robinson, founder and managing director of ClickThrough Marketing, explains how the agency is using service level reviews and Net Promoter Score (NPS) to drive improved customer satisfaction.

In 2013, ClickThrough introduced a new level to its quality assurance procedures by implementing Service Level Review (SLR) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) processes to its client relationship management. Up until this point, we had no consistent, repeatable way to measure how happy our clients were or how we could improve our service.

Our two-tiered approach to customer assessment gives us a balanced overview of what we are doing right and, more importantly, what we can improve upon.

Our SLR system provides qualitative feedback on how our team is performing. It looks at the relationships between account managers and clients, quality of work, strategic direction and communication, providing us with objective and actionable insight into what we are doing.

Our NPS process gives us a quantitative score so that we can monitor our progress, providing year-on-year data to keep us constantly improving.

How Our SLRs Link To Core Values

We laid out our RITE core values in 2011: Results, Innovation, Trust and Excellence.

Since then, we’ve worked to weave these into how we think and operate on a day-to-day basis. We didn’t want our core values to stop at the posters that line the walls of our office.

From a client servicing point of view, we needed a way to assess if they believed we were delivering on these values – so our SLRs were built on RITE, asking questions related to each of our core values.

Internally, running regular SLRs provides our teams with actionable insights into their performance, including aspects related to quality of communication, understanding of strategy and results achieved.

SLRs – The Benefits To Clients

Our SLRs are conducted on a quarterly basis with all clients. The process is owned by our Director of Client Development, Rob Allen, who says clients that partake and buy into the process get better outcomes all round, with improved results from their digital marketing activities.

Our SLRs provide us with feedback on the following:

  • Communications
  • Transparency
  • Quality of Work
  • Quality of Strategy
  • Results & Reporting

The biggest benefit to holding regular SLRs is that the client/agency relationship stays open and positive, because the SLR process provides a forum for open communication and feedback. New ideas get flagged early on and fed back into the account strategy, while problems can get nipped in the bud quickly.

As an integrated digital agency, we collectively assess the issues and new ideas fed back to us and look for similarities, both across client sectors and across our internal disciplines of SEO, PPC, CRO, Web Development, Content, Social and Inbound Marketing. This helps to inform strategic decisions on how we can improve our service, and helps us to prioritise growing our digital offering – both key benefits to our clients.

Our Net Promoter Score Explained

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a way of measuring customer satisfaction. The creators of the scoring system argue that NPS is the single biggest determinant of a business’ success and future profitability.

NPS is a calculation based on the question “How likely is it you would recommend us to a friend?” This question is rated on a sliding scale of 0 – 10 with 10 being ‘extremely likely’. The matrix is scored as follows:

  • Promoters (9-10 scores) – Customers who are likely to buy more, make positive referrals, or remain loyal to your brand
  • Passives (7-8 scores) – Satisfied but unenthusiastic customers
  • Detractors (0-6 scores) – Customers who are potentially unhappy with your service and therefore less likely to recommend your business

To achieve an NPS you simply subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. Passive scores are not counted.

Since implementing an NPS matrix as part of our SLR process in 2013, we have seen a steady increase in our NPS score year on year, with our score for 2015/2016 being 66%. An NPS score that is positive (anything higher than zero) is considered good, with a score above 50 seen as great. We are, quite naturally, pleased with these exceptional results.

Customer Satisfaction

We’ve carried out more than 300 service level reviews since 2013. Findings from these SLRs have been invaluable and have driven how the whole business and its management team prioritise how we improve services and processes.

Everyone in the business loves getting great comments – but the most valuable feedback is often the constructive feedback and comments that show us where we can improve our service or communications.

Here’s what some of our clients say about us:

“Openness of communication and understanding of the account and the industry are the main advantages of working with ClickThrough over and above other agencies.”

“Our account manager is fantastic. The way that she communicates is great; she picks up the phone and is very collaborative. ClickThrough are very good, particularly on time sensitive projects. Our AM manages expectations realistically.”

“There is now the strategic direction. We are kept up to date with testing and the implementation of new betas. We are very confident that everything that can be done for our account is being done.”

The fast paced nature of having to keep multiple clients happy means that running a digital agency is always a challenge. The biggest testament I can make to an agency taking customer satisfaction seriously is that managing the agency has become drastically easier and more positive.

Improving Processes

Most of our management time is now spent focused on improving process, services and new ways of working – rather than the constant firefighting of issues that occurs within a large number of digital marketing agencies.

SLRs and NPS aren’t just a nice thing for us to be seen doing – they have evolved to become the number one priority item at our weekly management team meeting and are taken into all our internal client service meetings. They have become woven into how we work and prioritise on a day to day basis at all levels within the business.

On the occasions where we get an average or negative SLR, we are all rightly disappointed and deflated, but it naturally drives us to put things right in time for the next SLR and NPS review.

Often we receive high scores of 9 out of 10, but simply asking what else we need to do to be a 10 will uncover further things we can do to keep improving.

In summary, I’ve found implementing this process to be the most positive initiative since starting the business in 2004. It takes several years to develop and make it work for your business – however, the upside benefits we’ve experienced with agency growth and more positive constructive relationships with our clients have been significant.

I encourage other agencies to follow suit.

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About the author:

Phil Robinson is an online marketing consultant with over 17 years experience in marketing planning, internet strategy and online acquisition. In 2004, Phil founded ClickThrough, an ethical search marketing agency. He gives best practice training for businesses, runs seminars and writes books on digital marketing.