Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score is a metric that gives an external scoring of the quality of your internal processes. It measures your performance in the eyes of the customer. Like all other quality measures, NPS is only useful when kept in context.

For example, if you survey every shopper that did not purchase from you or every customer with a bad experience, you will have a negative NPS. Conversely, if you survey only successful shopper interfaces, you will get a positive score.

Let’s drill down further. You can obtain an NPS on you sales process by surveying both shoppers who bought from you and those who didn’t. You can obtain an NPS on your overall product or service by surveying all of you customers at various times in their experience with your business. You can also obtain an NPS from your employees.

As in any survey, the quality of the questions used lead to specific results. The vast majority of surveys are flawed in this respect. You can control the outcome by asking questions that lead. Political surveys conducted by the respective parties are particularly bad in this respect. If you are not willing to be brutally honest with yourself and open the door to direct and potentially painful customer comments, you are better off not traveling down the path of establishing an NPS program.

If you are the brutally honest type and you have sampled your shoppers/customer properly, here are some tips for improving your NPS.

  • Low scores can come from shoppers/customers not understanding your product or service.  Educating your shoppers/customer can help to mitigate this.
  • Low scores can come from over promising to the prospect before they are a customer. Actually, shoppers like honesty. It leads to trust and predictability. Promise only what you can reasonably deliver and then deliver it. Winning a sale by hedging, then failing, is not a win at all.
  • Low scores can come from under delivery. The corrective strategy is based upon delivering what you promise. Customers only care about what they experience. The one customer out of 10 that received a late delivery does not care that the other nine customers received on time delivery.  Of the 10 customers, the one that experienced late delivery is more likely to have stronger feelings about you than the 9 who received what they expected.
  • Expectation is the mother of all success and failure. Corrective strategy is to manage expectations.  This comes down to communication.  Don’t make the customer contact you to find out there is a problem. Control the message and expectations by being a “first strike” communications person.

Actually, I don’t like metrics like NPS very much.  They attempt to qualify customer information without statistical evaluation. Additionally, some senior managers will use NPS as if it were telling them “why” customers feel the way they do, when NPS actually only indicates the “What”.

Let’s finish with a story that relates NPS to a compass.  A group of men went deep sea fishing one Saturday.  They motored out 25 miles and began to fish.  At about three in the afternoon, they decided to head back.  Using the boat’s compass the captain pointed the boat eastward and began the trek back to shore. Four hours later, they still had no siting of the shore.  By the next morning, panic had sat in and the captain called the Coast Guard. Using the boat’s locator, the Coast Guard found them150 miles off shore. They also found a soda can with a magnetic lid sitting next to the boat’s compass, rendering it useless. The moral of the story is that a biased measurement is useless (and don’t sit magnetic objects next to your compass).