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Looking Beyond Net Promoter Score

Jacob Brain


There are not many detractors from the Net Promoter Score (NPS) movement, and rightfully so.

NPS a very compelling argument that is made on the behalf of a sentimental feeling that a customer has when working with a company. But something about the NPS question and score just does not bring the assurance of a real metric to the table. What does the score really mean? Comparatively we get more yes’ than no’s, and that feels good. And yes, we can create feedback loops and get more insight into why the score matters and what it means, but anyone who does surveys knows the survey taker is also susceptible to a series of testing errors, and that they cannot deliver us the real answer all the time. In the end you have a metric that gives you a good measure, but no concrete understanding of what drivers affected it.

In this gap between data and driver, we look at trying to understand what the net promoter was trying to measure. Obviously this has a lot to do with the questions that you ask, but in most cases we are using one of the following words in the question: experience, product, or company. “How likely are you to tell your friend about your experience today?”

This question asks the likelihood of recommendation based on one focused aspect of our business like experience, or product. But we are taking the answer to the question to qualify much more than was specifically asked.

We see this as a endorsement of all aspects of the business the customer interacted with. And even thought it might be insightful enough to use, its not a realistic view of what drove that customer response. NPS gives you a hard number, but it does not allow you to see the underlying drivers clearly.

There needs to be something beyond NPS for organizations to really understand where they are performing.

You can increase your NPS and attack the score from a customer experience, product, or cost approach with all equal measure, but still not understand what driver caused the change in your customer’s mind. And one of the beauties of the NPS system is that you learn just enough to keep working at the problem without ever uncovering what action impacts scores the most.

Even more so, there are companies who have great customer loyalty that don’t do NPS surveys, so how do they know what they are doing right? NPS gives you a finger on the pulse, but what we are looking for is the EKG.

We want to know how we get to the real metrics of what drives customer engagement and loyalty on a deeper scale. Something you can project into your company and truly measure. New North is putting this concept to the test, and will publish some ideas soon. But until then, what do you think? Please comment below.


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