Is NetPromoter the Answer?

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What is NPS?

Over the past several years, the NetPromoter methodology has emerged as a leading indicator of customer loyalty.  Its founders, Dr. Fred Reichheld and SatMetrix, have also linked it to corporate growth.  Here is how it works:

Using a 0-10 point scale, the participant is asked a single question, “Would you recommend us to a friend or family member?”  The result is then categorized into three categories: 9-10 represent Promoters, 7-8 represent Passives, and 0-6 represent Detractors.  The NetPromoter score for a company is calculated by subtracting the % of Detractors from the % of Promoters.  Through their research, they have provided a number of examples that have correlated improvements in a company’s NetPromoter score with its overall growth.  Although there has been quite a bit of debate about this particular claim, the more important question is how this can be appropriately used in the contact center context.

Is NPS the only question I need?

Another key message from the founders is that NetPromoter is the only measurement that you need to effectively track customer loyalty.  Coupled with an open-ended comment question, “The Ultimate Question” can provide all information that an organization needs to improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.  What this fails to recognize is the fact that surveying is a tool commonly used for a number of different reasons.  In a contact center environment, they may be used to ask direct questions about agent performance, IVR usability, and hold times.  Although these types of responses may come out in an open-ended comment response, there is no guarantee that the customer will bring it up.  Only by asking direct questions to survey participants can you guarantee that it is commented on.  Therefore, other survey questions provide just as much value to other parts of the business.

So what types of questions should you ask?  If your sole focus is on tracking customer loyalty, the NetPromoter questions may suffice; however, if you are looking for more data, it is ok to ask additional questions.  In reality, NetPromoter often provides a great loyalty gauge, but falls short in providing actionable next steps.  To solve this, more focused survey questions can be used to gather deeper, targeted input.  In my experience with many survey deployments, I have found that the most common survey is a hybrid, meant to capture different types of data.  Not only does this allow for more direct input about various parts of the business, but it also enables cross metric correlation that can also be extremely valuable.  For example, how does agent satisfaction affect customer loyalty?  The first thing you should ask yourself is what you want to try to accomplish with the survey.  From there, if you follow some basic best practices in survey design, you should be able to maximize the effectiveness of your customer feedback program.