Is the Net Promoter Score Really So Bad?

So, Gartner predicted that, by 2025, 75% of companies will stop using NPS to measure their customer support program.

I’m calling BS.

Now, I am a bit jealous, because it’s great click bait. I can just picture the folks at Gartner sitting around, thinking, “Wow – Forrester got a lot of interest when they predicted that one out of four CX people will lose their job. What can we do that will create similar buzz? I know! Let’s make a dramatic prediction that’s close enough to feel imminent, but far enough away that nobody will remember it when it’s time to see if we were right!”

In their press release, the only supporting evidence was a survey of 42 heads of customer service. That’s hardly enough data to make such a prediction.

Besides, it fails the prima facie test. Just by looking at it, it feels untrue. The only way that so many companies will leave NPS is if something better grabs the spotlight and gets CEOs’ attention. Gartner’s CEB division tried that with the Customer Effort Score, and while that was successful, it just became a parallel metric – many organizations measure both. So, unless Gartner has a new metric that will take the world by storm (and they probably hope they do), it’s not going to happen.

It’s a fun debate to have, but it’s not going to happen. And, what’s so wrong with NPS anyway?

Regular readers may be confused that I’d defend NPS. Even members of my team accuse me of being an NPS basher. But that’s not quite right. I don’t dislike NPS. I dislike any metric that has not been proven to predict customer loyalty.

In a webinar we conducted a few months back, Nancy Flowers of Hagerty told us how NPS is very predictive of both retention and the purchase of additional products. For Nancy, NPS is a perfect metric (although she does surround it with others that help her answer more specific questions).

But most programs running NPS are doing so because it’s popular, and they never take the time to validate that it predicts anything. For those companies, NPS is a terrible metric. Not because of what NPS is, but because nobody knows whether NPS correlates with loyalty, let alone predicts it.

If you’re going to interrupt your customers to ask them to fill out a survey, let’s make sure that we’re asking them questions that matter. If that’s NPS, then great. If it’s ease of doing business, terrific. If “How do you like our logo colors” predicts loyalty, then use that!

But.

What if Gartner is right? What if 75% of companies do stop using NPS? My hope is that 3 out of 4 companies take the time to analyze what best predicts customer loyalty, and then switch to that. And, if that happens, I’ll gladly record a video and send it to Gartner of me eating my hat.

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