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Using the Net Promoter System to Create a Gold-Class Customer Contact Center: Meet Fionán Mc Donnell

Today I’m talking to a soft-spoken Irishman, Fionán Mc Donnell, who is the NSW New Business Manager at Macquarie Telecom Group.

This episode is the first part of a Macquarie Telecom Group masterclass on how to achieve the best Net Promoter System score (a concept developed by Fred Reichheld).

On today’s podcast:

  • How they created a gold-class customer service centre
  • Why they spent a lot of time on recruitment
  • Why they made sure that their customer service professionals felt empowered
  • Prioritizing customer satisfaction over operational efficiency
  • The power of transparency and the supervisor feedback group
  • What Fred Reichheld, the creator of the NPS, told Fionán after visiting their contact centre


Creating a gold-class customer service centre

The telecommunications industry within Australia is largely overcharged and underserviced. Fionán was unboarded to create a green-field contact centre. It was a luxury opportunity because it’s not often that you’re given the chance of creating your own green-field contact centre from scratch.

A large part of their success had to do with the people they hired, the systems they used and the culture they maintained.

They spent a lot of time on recruitment, identifying both what they wanted and what they didn’t want. They were quite choosy, and had five requirements:

  • The candidate should not have worked in a contact centre before
  • The candidate should not have worked in the telecommunications industry before
  • They were able to describe what gold-class customer service is
  • They attended tertiary education
  • And they had an affinity for IT

The screening process was quite rigorous. First the candidates’ CVs were checked by the recruitment company. After that they had to pass a voice interview with the recruitment agency.

Once they passed those, the candidates went on to join workgroup scenario days where they were tested for how well they operated in a team.

What Fionán and his team were looking for in a successful candidate was the ability to sense unrequested requirements. This required a high degree of empathy.

Finally, if they passed the scenarios, the candidates would have a first formal interview.

Leaving their customers delighted at the end of every call

A huge part of their proposition at Macquarie Telecom Group is that their contact centre team has a level of empowerment to do whatever it takes to delight a customer without managerial approval.

The only thing that the customer service professional needs to worry about is whether or not the customer is delighted at the end of the call. In the beginning, they only gave their employees them one metric, CSAT, a 1 to 5 customer satisfaction score.

Fionán’s strategy was to prioritize customer satisfaction over operational efficiency.

Impressing Fred Reichheld, the creator of the NPS

Fionán realized that if they wanted to correctly implement NPS in their company, it was crucial to get rid of all the other metrics (like CSAT). By having only one metric to rely upon in order to make important decisions, they diminished their chances of getting clouded by analysis paralysis.

There were two other major changes that proved to be a good idea over time:

  • The power of transparency. They were sharing real-time aggregated data up on plasma screens for all of their employees to see. Also, they ensured that the customer’s response to the interaction was visible on the screen of the customer service professional immediately after the interaction.
  • The supervisor feedback group. If a customer service professional got a low score, their manager would call the person who gave them the score within 24 hours and they would try to understand how they could have received a better score.

Fred Reichheld, the man who invented the Net Promoter Score, visited their contact centre at some point to see how well they had implemented the NPS strategy that he had designed in his book. He told them that it was the best execution of his book that he had ever seen.

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