Net promoter score

From The Jolly Contrarian
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Net Promoter Score.png
How to vote if you find NPS questionnaires tiring.

In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.
Index — Click ᐅ to expand:

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Requests? Insults? We’d love to 📧 hear from you.
Sign up for our newsletter.

Net promoter score
/nɛt prəˈməʊtə skɔː/ (n.)

For to a folysshe demaunde behoueth a folysshe ansuere.

—William Caxton, Aesop’s Fables, 1484

A silly question posed to your whole client base in the forlorn hope it will somehow yield a sensible answer.

Usually taking the form of a survey question along the lines “on a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” the net promoter score device purports to measure meaningful client loyalty, the likelihood of client referrals, recommendations, and the potential for repeat business. The aggregate data spinning off an “NPS” question is considered, by the sorts of people who should know better but don’t, as a good proxy for forecasting business grown and the health of one’s brand; “brand” being, in this grim modern existence, everything.

Thus, in our rubbish modern lives, we find ourselves inundated with “NPS” questionnaires for anything from yeast extract to the London Underground to corporate trust and agency services.

They are at best a second-order derivative and in most cases just a lazy proxy for what they purport to measure. There are learned studies asserting no correlation between NPS outcomes and revenue or customer behaviour, but we should not need boffins to tell us the face-slappingly plain.

Ask yourself: how seriously do you take the net promoter score questionnaires that flood your inbox? Have you, really, ever recommended yeast extract to your friends and family? How about your internet service provider? What about an ultra-high net worth wealth manager?


Scope creep

Net promoter methodology is leeching away from the brand value of chocolate bars and is seeping into the management methodology of international financial institutions — weird — and, weirder still, to the performance measurement of their internal functions.

Now, we of the western liberal elite are surely messed-up, readers, but are we so divorced from reality that any of us would honestly recommend to our loved ones our employer’s IT helpdesk or HR self-service portal? Would we rave over cornflakes about our favourite asset managers, insurers, debt collection agencies, broker-dealers or any of the other modernists behemoths that systematically perpetrate their worst reasonable efforts to their clients?

Perhaps the breakfast table in the Contrarian household is different, but we do not.

That these organisations even ask whether their customers would recommend them suggests some kind of survivor bias among respondents: there can be no other explanation than “only the truly sycophantic and ingratiating clients even bother responding to these Net Promoter Score questionnaires”.

How to fight back

It is hard to credit that information surrendered under protest, but yet for free, at the end of a meaningless encounter with customer support can, when aggregated, tell the firm anything about how its customers regard it — surprise surprise, the theory behind the NPS questionnaire is based on pure, dumb correlation — and since the arithmetic behind the NPS calculation is elementary, there is a simple way to banish them from the common currency: consistently vote them down. It is not a question of whether you recommend your favourite epoxy resin to your friends and family — why do you care whether they know that or not? — but whether you want to be bombarded with these stupid questionnaires.

The simple answer is to vote no.

See also