NPS… maneggiare con cautela

 NPS Image

AICEX: L’NPS è un gran bel KPI, ma solo se si è consapevoli delle sue caratteristiche e dei suoi limiti.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Net Promoter Score (NPS). I love its simplicity and accessibility. I love the way that CEOs and front line teams can understand how it works without the need for a degree in statistical mathematics or data analytics. However, there is a big problem with NPS and it normally comes after any successful programme implementation. The ‘curse of the number’ is a good way of summing up the problem.

Too many companies are spending too much time focusing on the numbers (results) and not enough time on actually making improvements. We all know what it’s like when NPS results are about to be released. The business become tense whilst segment heads and product leads start to manage communications around the possible ‘number’. Having worries about a number drop or optimism about a number rise are understandable but too many companies are trapped in a cycle of quarterly or bi-annual panic.

So how do you get away from a culture of number watching? Below are some tips:

  1. Don’t forget the cultural aspect – make sure that when you’re implementing an NPS programme culture is given just as much attention and priority as sampling strategy or reporting hierarchies. Ignoring culture will lead to an atmosphere of number watching where employees risk concentrating on reporting and public relations rather than on improvement planning.
  2. Communicate, communicate & communicate – have a marketing and advertising strategy up your sleeve to support your NPS implementation work. Create some bold messages that get across the dangers of fixating about the number. Highlight some  positive messages looking at how NPS can drive improvement planning by putting the customer at the heart of decision making. A great friend of mine once said ‘a rising tide raises all boats.’ In other words if everyone works together then NPS will go up. One strong message is to remind people that NPS that goes up is good and down is bad. Try to move people away from actual numbers and the dreaded decimal point.
  3. Put benchmarking on the back burner – if you’re thinking about benchmarking be wary of rushing into it. Think carefully about why you want to benchmark and whether it’s really going to help with planning. Benchmarking can be tricky, especially if you’re unable to compare against a competitive set with enough robust evidence. Benchmarking is helpful for future planning but a side effect is that employees will become fixed on number watching.
  4. Discourage market and segment comparisons – it’s tempting to compare Spain to Italy when the results come in. Both markets are in Southern Europe, both suffering a sovereign debt crisis ad both may have a similar business model. However, it’s likely that that’s where the similarities end. Market comparisons are unhelpful and in some circumstances dangerous. Markets are unique and should be treated as such. EMEA and APAC might be a business territory but it shouldn’t supplant a market-by-market focus. Getting into market comparisons will only harden people’s desire to obsess with NPS numbers.
  5. Avoid rash target setting – once NPS is up and running you’ll be under pressure to put targets in place. Targets are a necessary evil in life. They guide behaviour and can help provide a focus and goal for employees. However, it’s important to allow any NPS regime to stabilise before rushing into target design. You might want to start small and with a conservative zeal in designing targets that are achievable in the real world. Targets that are a stretch may be more suitable at a later date. Just be conscious of the side effects of targeting. It can lead to employees concentrating on the wrong things just to achieve a target number. Whilst the destination my be reached the methods of getting there might be damaging.
  6. Think carefully about linking NPS and remuneration – a tricky topic for most clients but think carefully before doing this. Once a number is linked to pay then the culture changes. My preference is not to go down this route. I’ve had enough service calls with someone whispering a plea down the phone for a good SMS follow up score that it’s plain to see the damage this can do and how much it hardens number watching

These are just some of the tips I’ve got to share. If you have  any more then join the debate!

Net Promoter, NPS and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc. and Fred Reicheld

AICEX Customer Experience Italian Association


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