Promises and Dependability

The first Scout Law is for a Scout to be Trustworthy. I’ve been thinking on the meaning of this word as part of my Scout Law project. It’s a complex issue that I am finding requires the examination of multiple perspectives. For this post, I’d like to investigate how promises (fulfilled or otherwise) and dependability factor into the value we label Trustworthy.

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One Way to Measure Trust

A year ago I was in a meeting about surveying our clients’ perspective on my organization’s performance. The idea of the survey was a followup on the idea of Net Promoter Score (NPS), made popular by Frederick F. Reichheld in a 2003 Harvard Business Review article titled ‘The One Number You Need to Grow.‘ The reason we were employing NPS was to calibrate our service model to our client’s needs.

The NPS tactics included create a comprehensive survey with open ended questions and a rating mechanism. If respondents scored our services low enough, we labeled them as ‘detractors.’ If they scored us within a certain band, they were  quantified as neutral. If they rated our service high enough, they were seen as promoters. To find your score you subtract the detractors from the promoters and divide that sum by the total opportunities. The goal then is to improve that score over time based on the feedback to the open ended questions in the survey. Other options include closing the loop and working with the survey respondents to improve your processes.

While we were designing  the survey I found it amazing how close the questions clients are surveyed with are to promises kept and dependability. We debated several questions, the phrasing of the questions, and what exactly it was that we were after.

Note: If you 1) are in business, 2) in management, 3) have clients or aspire to any of those 3 AND you’re not familiar with Net Promoter score, it’s worth learning. Here’s the wikipedia description, here’s a summary from Harvard Business Review (where the idea was originally published in 2003), and here’s a link to buy the entire pdf from Amazon The One Number You Need to Grow.

In the end what I suggested that what we really wanted to discover was our client’s level of trust. After all, that’s what everyone gets hired for in the end; management’s trust in you to employ your skills and exhibit good judgement. The group agreed with me and we proceeded to ask very tough questions to ascertain out client’s level of trust in our organization.

How does the ability to deliver on promises impact trustworthiness to you? How does dependability impact trustworthiness in your eyes? What criteria do people have to display to earn your trust? How do they lose it?

Do you think you could adapt the corporate concept of Net Promoter Score to your personal life? Have you? What were the results?

Tell us in the comments.

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