One of the main distinctive features of Key Accounts is that they are usually global companies. Taking this into account, headquarters necessarily make some benchmarks upon several issues between subsidiaries from different countries. Customer feedback do not escape from this international comparisons to which CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) and NPS are often associated as the main references.
Even though companies cannot neglect these benchmarks’ importance, which allow top managers to obtain a global customer view and/or are able to give incentives to local managers based on the mentioned indicators, they should remain careful about the interpretation of CSAT and NPS results.
In contrast to turnover or margin results, which can be defined as factual and objective results, these two indicators, extracted from customer perception, are also factual but subjective. Actually, they rely on several factors that influence those indicators and will potentially disrupt their comparability.

The first element to take into account is, in several cases, the nature of products which are marketed by the different subsidiaries. To illustrate this point, we can take the example of one of our clients which is one of the leading global insurers. Its subsidiaries do not market the same offers: some are specialized in the property and casualty disasters, some in health or life insurance… and some market a complete offer. Consequently, how is it possible to compare the NPS of these subsidiaries while they are not even selling the same service?

The second factor corresponds to the fact that methods and tools used to gather customer feedback are different from one subsidiary to another. Yet, the chosen way to measure these perceptions can impact on results, that is to say: the chosen moment to launch the survey (in real time immediately after an interaction or after reflection), gathering methodology (single question or within a longer survey), the used technology (sales advisor, IVR, email, SMS)… as many elements which vary from one subsidiary to another can impact results.

The third one could be the most decisive element: cultural differences which involve huge variation of reference points from one country to another. For those who have already conducted surveys among more than one country, it is obvious that the scores won’t be the same according to countries. In some countries – such as France – scores will be less generous than elsewhere. In addition, the propensity to give minimum or maximum scores appears to vary from one country to another. For example, Americans give 10/10 much more easily than other cultures.
To conclude, implementing a feedback management tool at an international level requires a degree of caution when making comparisons between countries to take account of cultural differences.

Don’t you think that perhaps the best way is for each subsidiary to producs its own local benchmark among its local competitors (on direct competitive products, with a single gathering method and population, having a unique cultural basis) and that headquarters will only take into account the fluctuating differences which exist between subsidiaries and local competitors. An idea that could gain ground…

Hervé CEBULA
CEO MediaTech Solutions