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Net Promoter? It's not about the score!

9th Jun 2016
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In companies that use NPS, there has been a tendency to focus on the score. To fuss about the score, incessantly, and to pay no attention to anything but the score.
But even Fred Reichheld has mentioned at a conference that that might be a misgiving. He’s been quoted as saying:

“Perhaps the score, NPS, was a mistake.

It’s not the score that matters, it’s what you do with it to make Promoters that really count”.

That is why, in recent years, a lot of NPS aficionados have come to speak about the Net PromoterSystem, as opposed to the Net Promoter Score. The focus is to make your company aware of what your customers and stakeholders experience, and try to improve on that continuously. 

Don’t let the perfect stand in the way of the good

And in terms of what score or KPI you use, don’t let the perfect stand in the way of the good. You might fuss about whether or not the Net Promoter Score is the ideal KPI for you or not, and you might lose yourself (as many have) in discussions about NPS in comparison with other measurements. And in the mean time, you might forget to actually measure, and act according to what your measurements indicate.

Can we agree on one thing here? It’s far better to measure something, than to measure nothing.

As Peter Drucker had it:

“You cannot manage what you cannot measure.“

It's far better to start seeing some things, than to blindly stumble on. By getting insights on your customer’s experience, whatever these insights may be, and however slight they may be as you start out, you will be motivated to:

  • ... measure in a better way. You will be wanting to get better in how you measure. You might want to measure more often or you may want to combine your findings with what you already know about your customers. Or, you may want to identify more key moments in your customers' journey where you feel measuring may reveal valuable insights. There’s many ways to raise the bar. But the most important thing is to start somewhere today, if you haven't started yet.
  • ... do something with the outcomes of your measuring. It's hard to ignore facts that you're starting to see and they have a far wider reaching effect then the traditional managerial reports that are just being discussed in endless company meetings. It’s really, really hard to ignore actual feedback of customers. That certainly goes for the painful truths that are being revealed, but also for those neat best practices that get laid bare.  

How to motivate teams to focus on the drivers of the score

But whatever you do, it’s always far more rewarding to focus on the drivers of your score than to focus on just your score. Every little thing that you can actually do to influence the score will undoubtedly prove worth your while. And you’ll be motivated far more by fast results, than by just staring at your score.

It’s the same thing for teams. Human beings are driven by actions, and that is how they achieve results. When setting goals for your team, make activities their goals. Not just a  score. The goal of your team is to actually do things. The right things. The results will follow.

The real question behind NPS

And so, that means the real question behind a successful Net Promoter Systems boils down to: what kind of activities can you choose as a goal for you team members, if influencing the Net Promoter Score is the outcome you are looking for?

Well, there’s really 2 fundamental ways of looking at this:

Make sure that you act on your Detractors. They need to be individually approached. That is wat Fred Reichheld called ‘Closing The Loop’ on your customers.

  • Look at your promoters in a structured way. It's essential to see what it is that turns your customers into promoters. Not on an individual level alone, but as seen from a helicopter view.
  • Don’t let your team members figure out what this is by themselves. Remember, we’re al biased. Every one of us will interpret the Voice of the Customer to show precisely what we felt was important all along. We cannot listen and forget what is ringing in our ears already. So make sure that you have some objectivating system in place.

That's easier said than done, we know that. That's also why the Hello Customer platform has an in-built text analysis software. It reveals, automatically and objectively, what your customers are saying. So that you can focus on what you and your team can do to make more Promoters among them.

Would you like to find out how we do that? We're happy to demo our software for you and see how we can help you build a more fruitful Net Promoter System.

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Lindsay Willott
By Lindsay Willott
11th Jun 2016 10:02

Great points in here Leslie. We see this happen a lot too. The score is tracked by management as a benchmark, but often the "closing the loop" aspect of NPS is lost. It's critical to give the guys on the ground serving the customers the power to fix things if customers are unhappy. Promoters can only be created at grass roots level, by staff action, not simply by the act of measurement. As we like to say, you need to move the needle, not just look at it!

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