In our previous post on the common features of companies with high Net Promoter Score, we noted that Apple had an NPS® of 72 – significantly higher than the mean score for a consumer electronics company.
As with most retention-related statistics, Apple’s high NPS isn’t a coincidence. It’s the result of an incredible focus on delivering a great product and an exceptional experience to customers – something Apple, as the world’s largest tech company, has turned into a streamlined process.
Apple’s Net Promoter Score® is very high for a company in its industry, but it’s not unattainable for other brands. By understanding why and how Apple achieves such a high customer loyalty, you can create a process that improves customer satisfaction in your own company.
Below, we’ve listed several factors that contribute to Apple’s Net Promoter Score. Whether you run a technology business or have an unrelated brand and want to learn from Apple’s amazing success, the factors below can help you raise your NPS and retain more customers.
A sensory experience that extends beyond the product
Much has been written about Apple’s attention to detail. This attention to detail extends beyond the product itself – whether it’s an iPhone, an iPad or a MacBook – and into the packaging and experience that’s attached to the product.
Personalics wrote about Apple’s attention to detail in early 2016, pointing out that the company doesn’t just deliver its products in standard cardboard packaging – it goes above and beyond and puts just as much attention to detail into its packaging as it does into its product.
The result of this is that buying and opening an Apple product is a sensory experience. From the first interaction with an Apple product – in this case, opening the box – customers have a sense of Apple’s attention to detail and design philosophy.
This relatively small factor has a big effect on purchases. Scott Young, of Perception Research Services, notes that Apple’s focus on visual contrast helps the company stand out from its competitors and deliver a unique experience to its customers.
This experience is closely linked to the product itself. The sensory response of opening up the box and first using the product is an event that customers subconsciously remember each time they use an Apple product.
One of Apple’s biggest NPS strengths is best expressed in a simple rule: sell an experience, not a product. Buying, opening and using an Apple product is an experience, which is a major factor in the company’s strong Net Promoter Score.
A zero-risk approach to customer service
Apple’s products aren’t cheap, but buying them doesn’t feel like a risky experience. Because of the huge network of retail stores that Apple operates, customers know that whenever they buy an Apple product, they’re buying something that’s safe and reliable.
If an Apple device doesn’t work as it should, exchanging or repairing it is as simple as going back to the nearest Apple store and visiting the Genius Bar.
Brian X. Chen of the New York Times pointed this out in 2015, arguing that any product review is worthless without an understanding of the company’s customer service. Customers are making purchase based not just on the quality of a product, but on the quality of the service that accompanies it.
One of the biggest reasons customers don’t purchase something, particularly an expensive or unique product, is anxiety about whether or not it will work as it should, and concerns that if it doesn’t work as it should, getting an answer from the company might be difficult.
Apple neutralizes this anxiety through its customer service, letting customers know that for any product they buy, they’ll receive the support they need to use it to its fullest.
A focus on continually improving NPS
Contrary to the common believe that Apple doesn’t like to listen to its customers, Apple was one of the first big proponents of Net Promoter Score. Fred Reichheld’s popular book, The Ultimate Question, explains how Apple used Net Promoter Score prior to 2006 to influence its practices.
A focus on continually improving and increasing Net Promoter Score affects every level of work at Apple, from the big picture to day-to-day store operations. Reichheld explains how Apple puts NPS to work in the management of its retail stores:
“Comments from customers help store managers prepare for service recovery calls with detractors to close the feedback loop. The outcomes of these calls, together with the customer comments, provide important coaching and feedback messages that are passed along to employees.”
NPS feedback is analyzed and provided to stores on a daily basis. Whenever Apple receives a poor score from a detractor, the store manager follows up over the phone to clear up the issue within 24 hours. The response is rapid, and it has serious positive results for Apple’s ratings.
According to Reichheld’s book, internal studies showed that detractors whom Apple contacted within 24 hours were significantly more likely to buy Apple products in the future than detractors that couldn’t be reached. Apple worked out that each hour on the phone with a detractor had a value of $1,000 in additional revenue for the company.
Apple’s continual focus on improving its Net Promoter Score has produced significant results for the company. In 2007, its NPS was a respectable 58. As of 2016, the company has an NPS of 72 – one of the highest in the technology industry.
A focus on the big picture of Net Promoter Score
Promoter.io has an interesting breakdown of Apple’s Net Promoter Score survey. In it, they note that Apple’s survey violates many of the usual principles of NPS surveying, from its huge length (the survey includes more than 20 questions) to its weak email subject line.
From the perspective of someone interested in optimizing NPS surveys, Apple makes far more mistakes in its customer survey than most brands. Despite this, it’s one of the world’s leaders, outranking all of its major competitors.
Apple’s NPS success proves that when you focus on the big picture – a great product, excellent service and uniqueness – many of the small details that have a bigger impact on small brands become less of a concern.
Promoter.io estimate that just one in 100 people that start Apple’s NPS survey finish it. At first glance, that’s a terrible completion rate. But when you consider that Apple sells more than 300 million devices every year, it puts the one percent completion rate in perspective.
Extending NPS beyond the product
Apple was one of the first companies that adopted Employee Net Promoter System (eNPS). It recognized the importance of employees being promoters themselves, since only employee that truly believes that the service he/she is selling is the best in the market, can turn a customer into a promoter.
Reichheld said, that Apple began surveying their own employees every four months to find out how likely the employees would be to recommend the store as a place to work.
It was useful for Apple to have the same framework, that they can use to start a discussion with employees on what is working and what’s not, what needs to be improved to make it a better work environment.
So, the main reason Apple is so committed to NPS is that it helps everyone to do the right thing – it makes the lives of both customers and employees better.
It’s not about the money
Research by Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable compared to companies that were not focused on the customer.
If Apple’s main focus was on making more money, they probably wouldn’t have been so successful now. Instead, they focused on their customers and it has paid off.
Today, Apple is one of the world’s most successful and profitable technology company. It holds over 40% of the US smartphone market and has a fantastical 87% brand loyalty across the US and Europe.
So think less about profit and more about customer value. How your company and your product or service can create more value for your customer.
Improve your company’s Net Promoter Score
Apple is one of the world’s biggest companies, and the tactics that it uses to measure its NPS might not be completely relevant for your business. However, the general strategy – a unique product backed up by great customer service – is something that any brand can implement.
From Apple to other industry-leading companies such as Netflix and Amazon, the best way to learn retention from big companies is to survey your customers, read their feedback and use it to improve your product, service and experience.
Retently lets you survey your customers automatically to measure your Net Promoter Score and discover your product’s strengths and weaknesses, helping you reduce churn, increase revenue and create happier, more enthusiastic customers.
Start your free trial now to improve your retention rate and increase customer loyalty.