Getting the best from Net Promoter Score

Some thoughts on Net Promoter Score:

  • A temperature gauge is a good analogy for NPS, as it’s a problem when too hot or cold
  • Use NPS with a mix of complementary measures
  • NPS is better at judging effect on specific touch points
  • Do we always want recommendation? Some customers cost us money or are prone to take advantage
  • Attention is needed on emphasis of survey, many Costa customers use the service as somewhere to meet, the coffee may be irrelevant
  • Factor normalisation (see below)


  • Human relationships cannot continuously improve
  • National cultures will guide a set of normal emotional responses
  • UK culture may well provide a negative NPS as normal response
  • We should expect a customer relationship to do the same
  • Over time a positive and negative reaction will normalise and be reflected in the score
  • NormalisaIon is often seen as fluctuaIon in the NPS score
  • Is the new norm the key indicator?  If so, how can we measure it?


Continually rising scores

Continuous improvement in NPS can be achieved from:

  • A low starting point
  • Scores being manipulated by rewarding customers for high score
  • Customers only being surveyed at wow or good complaint resolution point

None of these scenarios are an indication that a new and improved normal reaction has been established.

NPS is better if…

  • NPS starting point is low, is less effecIve at guiding change with higher scores
  • Survey is close to customer interaction
  • A survey is also sent after customer emotion has been rationalised
  • Used in conjunction with partners and others in customer federation (reference reflections on federation 2009)
  • Perhaps best as a guide to the effecIveness of current actions and as a guide for front line staff
  • Scale is good and bad: More replies = less direct linkage;  Less replies = more easily linked
  • Not as effecItie in guiding strategy as driven by a view of historical data
  • It is recognised that NPS will – and should always be  -­  a moving figure, a good indicator of movement
  • Each product and service will have a natural ceiling


All the evidence would seem to indicate NPS is too volatile to be used as central ROI for customer experience – links to retention, growth and profit  are more appropriate and compelling.

Human behaviour dictates that if something is difficult, people will find an alternative route or a workaround.

NPS reflects the symptom – effort closer to the cause. The consensus of opinion is that effort should be part of the customer experience narrative rather than adopted as a measure.

From The QoE, January 2014, ‘Is Effort the New Loyalty?’

Problems with measuring customer experience

Measurement is often used in the following ways:

  • To represent an aspiration or, better still, the purpose of an organisation
  • To be divisible into collective and individual objectives and targets
  • To be a cultural and behavioural guide
  • To influence a reward and remuneration structure
  • As a customer engagement tool
  • As a brand component
  • As a marketing message


But there are some common problems with measuring customer experience:

  • Variability and fluctuaIon are difficult to interpret into direct actions
  • Organisations who use it on a tactical level find the link to action easier to find
  • Measurement is often responsible for driving the wrong behaviours
  • The outcomes of measurement are constantly challenged by statisicians and intuitive thinkers, undermining its authority
  • It is probably the most controversial subject in customer experience development
  • In too many cases it’s a hypothetical question
  • The drive for a continuous upward trend can result in considerable manipulation that is often recognised by customers
  • Some people question the need to translate emotions into a tangible outcome


Why is Net Promoter Score challenged so regularly?

  • Statistical viability, 1 – 10 scale and variability in the point of engagement
  • NPS tells you what customers will say they will do, not what they actually do
  • ManipulaItion is rife, you get what you tolerate not what you hope for
  • Free or anecdotal comment is vital, but available from many other sources
  • Every time you think you have it straight in your head something changes
  • How often is 9/10 score a reasonable expectation? Is anything 100 recommended?
  • Customer experience should remain an emotionally based discipline
  • Difficulty in demonstrating insight, action and reward
  • Fluctuating scores
  • Scores inevitably plateau

From The QoE, January 2014, ‘Is Effort the New Loyalty?’