Net Promoters Score – yes and …

The net promoters scores has become the most popular customer metric used by leaders in medium to large organisations.

it was developed by Frederick F Reicheld from Bain & Company and made famous in a 2003 HBR article.

There are many reasons for its popularity:

– It’s simple

– Easy to communicate

– Its a constant reminder for everyone to adopt a customer focus

– The score can be shared around the organisation.

– It makes intuitive sense (i.e. it asks the question – How likely are you to recommend [COMPANY] to a friend or colleague?)

– Places the focus on leveraging the promoters (i.e. score 9 or 10 in a 11 point scale) as way to grow the business whilst minimising the detractors (i.e. a customer score from 0 to 6).

– And provides an easily digestible snapshot of whether the customer score is going up or down.

But …

There are many issues with the NPS system.

In no particular order these include:

– The rating scale (i.e. from 0 to 11) is too broad. What is the difference between say a 3 or 4 or for example?

– If you are going to use a 11 point scale surely there is a difference between say 1 and 6, yet these are scored the same.

– The question asks for your estimate of how likely are you to recommend this brand to others is appealing but may not reflect actual behaviour. As we know there are often considerable differences between what customers say they will do and what they actually do.

– The idea of having a single score is simplicity itself but does this capture all there is to know about your customers experience? Does a single IQ score for example capture the entire essence of a person?

– The mathematics of working out the final score (i.e. The Net Promoter Score = % of Promoter respondents minus % of Detractor respondents) is fraught with issues. Jared M Spool for examples has done a wonderful job in explaining the various inconsistencies with the NPS methodology.

– The final result does not capture the why or how or what to do next.

– The passives (i.e. those customers scoring are 7 or 8) seem to be ignored altogether.

– The connection to growth for example seems to be correlated not causal.

– And the question – how likely how likely are you to recommend this brand to others, suggests that the customer has to make a comparison between known brands and experiences (i.e. what if all the brands are rubbish) rather than what might be or what the expectations are now or in the future.

In summary, the NPS will remain as a useful progress measure but astute leaders will use it wisely and with other customer experience insights.

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