In 2023, the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a critical customer experience (CX) benchmark, turns 20.
NPS asks consumers a single question (or variations thereof): “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely would you be to recommend our company?” The number of response ratings from 0 to 6 are subtracted from the number of ratings from 9 to 10, and the result indicates how well a company is managing to turn customers into brand advocates.
But does it? As time has gone by, a couple of problems have arisen in the execution of NPS:
Customer responses can be unreliable. With customers getting slammed with surveys these days, people may only be willing to respond when they’re utterly delighted or disgusted with a brand. While these extremes are what NPS concerns itself with, it doesn’t present the clearest picture of a brand’s constituency. On the other hand—especially in light of pandemic-related job upheaval—customers, although dissatisfied, may be reluctant to get employees in trouble, and might tailor their replies.
CX providers can game the system. Since NPS can be a factor in performance reviews, CX agents have been known to resort to pleading with customers: “If you don’t give me a good score, I’ll get fired.” Some CX companies offer rewards in exchange for good ratings, and some simply don’t send surveys to consumers who aren’t already known to be thrilled with their experience. Of course, not all CX suppliers do this, but since it can be done, how is a client supposed to know whether NPS metrics are valid or not?
This isn’t to say that NPS has lost all value – as a single-question survey, it certainly encourages consumers to participate, and respondents who rate companies from 9 to 10 have been found to be:
- 5x more likely to buy more products and/or services,
- 7x more likely to forgive company errors,
- 9x more likely to try new products and/or services, and will probably recommend the brand to about 3.5 people.
So while NPS may have its issues, it can still deliver actionable insight. In the end, what matters most is how the information gained through NPS is used – the score shouldn’t be viewed as an end in itself, but as a guidepost to shape CX strategy. It’s not about looking good, but constantly striving to do better.