Net Promoter – What’s in a Metric?

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Net Promoter Score (or NPS) is a concept that has seized hold of the “customer loyalty” industry because of its simplicity and the logical inference of a positive score vs. a negative score.

It’s easy to calculate — are more people recommending your product or service (“promoting”) as opposed to ignoring it/denigrating it (“detractors”). If the former exceeds the latter…then it only makes sense that it would have a positive impact on your company, right? Simple, intuitive and to the point…which is why Fred Reicheld and the other developers of NPS are rightfully basking in the spotlight.

While NPS is a revealing metric, there is a danger in hailing any one measure as the “ultimate question” in unlocking the mysteries of customer loyalty and financial growth. And when it comes down to it, I don’t believe that any of the NPS advocates are steadfastly insisting that this is the only information of value when assessing the “customer-centricity” and growth potential of an operation.

In the 1 to 1 Weekly coverage of the recent Net Promoter conference in New York City ( 1to1weekly_logo_sm1.jpg ) it seemed to me as if many of the corporate practitioners were employing NPS in order to improve the customer experience…so that they could improve their NPS. In short, making the goal of an improved NPS as an end unto itself. One presenter said (and I’m paraphrasing), “If we continuously improve the client experience…then we will be handsomely rewarded with a healthy NPS.”

Hmm. Seems to me that this is the danger of a magic bullet metric – one can get too caught up in the metric itself without making its real-world connection to something more meaningful. Here is an interesting article that speaks to the dangers of that particular type of myopia.

While the NPS and the question from which it is derived – “would you recommend my product or service to a friend” – may literally end up being the ultimate question…it probably shouldn’t be the ONLY question.

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