Saturday, March 27, 2010

NPS, Enterprise Management, and Situation Awareness

In the course of what I do, I have to sometimes take non-technical metrics and understand where implementation of technology - especially in the ENMS realm - applies toward achieving real business goals.

Recently, alot of Services based companies are working toward understanding and improving their Net Promoter Score or NPS. As part of this initiative, what can I do to realize the overall goal?

First, I went looking for a definition of NPS to understand the terms, conditions, and metrics related to this KPI. I found this definition:


What is Net Promoter?

Net Promoter® is both a loyalty metric and a discipline for using customer feedback to fuel profitable growth in your business. Developed by Satmetrix, Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld, the concept was first popularized through Reichheld's book The Ultimate Question, and has since been embraced by leading companies worldwide as the standard for measuring and improving customer loyalty.

The Net Promoter Score, or NPS®, is a straightforward metric that holds companies and employees accountable for how they treat customers. It has gained popularity thanks to its simplicity and its linkage to profitable growth. Employees at all levels of the organization understand it, opening the door to customer- centric change and improved performance.

Net Promoter programs are not traditional customer satisfaction programs, and simply measuring your NPS does not lead to success. Companies need to follow an associated discipline to actually drive improvements in customer loyalty and enable profitable growth. They must have leadership commitment, and the right business processes and systems in place to deliver real-time information to employees, so they can act on customer feedback and achieve results.


I found this at :

In essence, the NPS KPI is a metric by which to measure customer loyalty. In its simplicity, come the subjectiveness of how you treat your customers. So this begs the question: What can I do from an Enterprise Management perspective to affect this?

From my perspective, the NPS is a measure of the effectiveness of your support CULTURE first and foremost. This is a personal - core belief - sort of thing at its foundation. Customer facing people in your support organization must project several key personality traits and behaviors. Some of these I envision to be:

Dedication. The customer is the only person in the room sort of thing.

Urgency of need. The support person must understand the importance of the situation.

Empathy. A willingness and understanding of the customer's pain.

Confidence. In the face of unknown issues and varying conditions, the customer facing person must exhibit technical strength.

Follow Through. If the customer trusts you enough to let you off the phone to handle things, you MUST FOLLOW THROUGH.

There is also the notion that in a Service oriented company, EVERYONE is a sales person in one way or another. Every interaction means an opportunity to understand the customer and help them be successful.

When you go to MacDonalds and you're trying to figure out what you'd like or what level of poly unsaturated fat and cholesterol you want to propagate to your family... Ever gotten the person that asks you what you want and you don't know and they stand there looking at you? NPS score --.

Now, if they engage you and suggest items like a 12 pack of Big Macs, they are DEDICATED, empathic to your hunger pains,understand your urgency of need, and have confidence your order is going to be up in a minute or so after inputting it in the computer. And in the end they ask about dessert - Great Sales person and GREAT customer service person. NPS score ++.

From a personal work habits perspective, one of the key behaviors to be considered is creating and maintaining Situation Awareness. I ran across the term SA while working on an Air force project and found it profoundly appropo for operations organizations doing customer service. Check this out on Wikipedia:

I also read through several sections of the google book review about Situation Awareness by Dr. Mica Endsley and Daniel Garland. This is at :

(I'm ordering the book!)

The model graphic they provide is useful as well:

In effect, what enterprise management applications and technology MUST do to effectively achieve a higher NPS is to empower SA at all levels. In doing so, you create a culture where information is meant to be shared and used to make predictions and illicit responses and decisions based upon information being presented.

Now this is a bit taller of an order than once thought. For example, on the Event / Fault Management side of things, information is presented as events. People respond to events. They test or open tickets or whatever workflow they do when an event is received.

But an event is NOT a situation! A Situation is something a bit different and more abstract than a simple event. So, you have to transition your events to be situation focused! Interesting thought... Especially since event presentation is the real prevalent method! Maybe the Netcool approach needs to evolve a bit!

Interesting in that OpenNMS introduces the concept that events are different from Alarms in their own GUI. Check it out at:

A brilliant piece of work (and a notion that simple is Good!) in that EVENTS != ALARMS! My hats off the the OpenNMS guys and the OGP for GETTING IT! In fact, its a start down the road of understanding the concept of Situations in SA.

Trouble Ticketing systems attempt to do this situation grouping via tickets but its almost too late once it leaves your near real time pane of glass. Once you transition away from a single pane of glass, you effectively lose your SA of the real time. And if you attempt to work out of tickets, you miss all of the elemental sorts of things that happen underneath. Even elements of information like event activity, performance thresholds, support activity, and the like have to be discerned and recognized in near real time to be effective information. If you miss it, you don't know. But your customer may not miss it!

If you ticket from event to ticket, you're asking for problems. Problems like tickets that are not problems but side effects. Or side effects that are problems, just rolled up under a ticket. Or awareness that conditions have cleared while the ticket is still being escalated and worked. Or missing all of the adjacent issues like a router taking out a subnet taking out and application and its three different desks.

The interesting part here is that two given situations may have events that effect each situation. This may throw a kink in normal, database table based event management systems. May be a bit difficult to implement and support.

I am beginning to think a bit different on Event processing especially with regards to SA and understanding, recognizing, and responding to SITUATIONS. For example, check out this presentation by Tim Bass of Cyberstrategics. He has a long history of thought leadership in Situational Awareness in Cyberspace.

CEP techniques would enable an event to be consumed by multiple situations as situations develop and dissipate. Think about the weighting of events and conditions within a given situation. Some elements may be much more pertinent than others.

A significant part of Situation Awareness is the visualization and presentation of data regarding the ongoing situation. For example, check out this video:

From the aspect of true, situational awareness, shouldn't we be looking at evolving Enterprise Management toward being able to deal with situations?

Another thought here. If I'm worried about an NPS, could I MANAGE to it live? Or at least closer to real time? What if I could meld in the capabilities of Evolve24's The Mirror product as a look at the REPUTATION SITUATION as it evolves? Check it out at:

This kind of changes the face of what we have been considering as BSM, doesn't it.

The common denominator in all this process and technology is Knowledge Management. How are you developing knowledge? How are you integrating it in with EVERY person. How are you using it to create SA and HUGE business discriminators? How are you using KM to empower your customers?

1 comment:

  1. Dougie, you never cease to amaze me. I wish all folks that are considered, or consider themselves, "behind the scenes" thought as you do. In the world of system and intelligent (human) capital evolution, one thing still holds true, which that Every Experience matters. Systems not only support humans but deliver experiences directly to customers and will only increase with cloud and automation technologies. Our friends over at the Customer Contact Council have also reminded us that information does not travel through an organization as a chart would suggest. So when that "front line" employee is talking to an "end user", the "decision maker" is very likely to get his/her opinion about that experience. That opinion will influence the decision. This is human, global, and turns B2C/B2B into B2Me, making the former obsolete. NPS is effective, but still a higher "layer" metric of human emotion. Thanks for posting and apologies for spelling as I replied from the iPhone.