Your Customers Don’t Love You As Much As You Do

It’s an easy trap to fall into. When you’ve got an amazing product and an even amazing-er team, the inclination is to hold a high opinion of your company.

But in all likelihood, most of your customers think you’re just OK.

“Being inside a company, you are less objective in your opinion than a customer,” says my teammate Mat Patterson. The data supports this: Bain & Company’s oft-cited white paper on “Closing the Delivery Gap” found that

Companies vs. people

“You’ll have your superfans, but you’ll also have people who are hitting rough spots, having less-than-ideal experiences, running into limitations,” Mat says. “Those people mostly won’t be thinking, ‘Oh, that’s been pushed back because they had to do X first, but it’s coming and it will be awesome.’ They just think ‘that’s annoying,’ but may not bother to tell us.”

“I’ve learned that differences of opinion are usually a difference of information,” says Help Scout CEO Nick Francis. “One side usually has a lot more.”

In Help Scout’s case, for instance, we know why our Android app took a while to release and that we’re doing our best, but our customers don’t have that context. And when our mission is to help people build companies their customers love, whose perspective truly matters?

Related: 10 Ways to Convert More Customers Using Psychology

NPS versus eNPS

NPS is the percentage of customers who are promoters minus the percentage who are detractors. Generally, a net promoter score greater than zero is good, and a score greater than 50 is excellent. According to research from the Temkin Group, an NPS score of 41 is average for the software industry. Of the 315 companies surveyed in 2016, Apple was the only tech company with an NPS above 60.

range of NPS across industries

Transparency time! As of the last customer survey in 2016, Help Scout’s NPS score is 40. Our goal for 2017 is to raise our NPS to 45 or higher.

Overall NPS

The eNPS score, however, tells a different story. That’s the metric that measures team happiness. It comes from surveying your employees about how likely they are to recommend your company as a place to work, on a scale of 1-10. Detractors, Passives and Promoters are weighted in the same way they are when calculating NPS.

It’s more difficult to come by industry benchmarks for eNPS. Our current eNPS is 87, which we consider to be on the high end.

Of course, this is a rather apples-to-oranges comparison — how our customers feel about using Help Scout the product, versus how our team feels about working at Help Scout the company.

But it speaks to how our internal perceptions of the business may cloud how accurately we assess our product .

The danger lies in drawing an unsubstantiated line connecting how awesome we think we are to how awesome our customers must think we are.

We need to be vigilant, in other words, about not drifting into complacency. A lack of humility can burn you, especially as you scale. Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher famously told his employees, “Think small and act small, and we’ll get bigger. Think big and act big, and we’ll get smaller.”

6 ways to increase your exposure to ‘detractors’

Product managers and customer support team members may already be plenty familiar with how customers feel, because they’re closest to customer feedback and survey data. But for others, it’s important to expose ourselves to everything our customers have to say — including those who count as “detractors” on the NPS scale.

Get insights that drive results without the overhead. Try Help Scout FREE today

Like Mat outlined in Scaling Customer Service on a Growing Team, to keep from fumbling into the “trough of mediocrity,” you need to take honest and ruthless stock of how customers feel about your product or service — not how you feel about it, or how you think customers ought to feel about it — but how customers honestly feel. To do that, you could:

  1. Read through conversations from customers who left “unhappy” ratings

  2. Review NPS survey comments from detractors

  3. Pay close attention to exit survey comments from churning customers

  4. Check out discussions and community forums for your industry, where people are likely to be more honest about what they like or don’t like about you and your competitors

  5. See what people are saying on review aggregators such as GetApp

  6. Share your findings from all of the above with the entire team, so everyone understands what the primary challenges are

Keep surveying customers for feedback and measuring for success. Decide which metrics are critical to measuring customer satisfaction. Don’t just go with your gut; prove that you provide great service with data.

Once you’ve internalized that your customers are never as forgiving of your company as you are, all you can do is empathize with them, then strive to meet the bar they’ve set.


Fired up to measure the heck out of customer satisfaction? Watch the latest edition of The Supportive!

Emily Triplett Lentz

Emily Triplett Lentz

Emily is a writer, marketing strategist and alum of Help Scout. You can find her on Twitter.