3 Shortfalls of Net Promoter Scores


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Net Promoter Score (or NPS) rocked the customer feedback world when it came out ten years ago. Today, it’s everywhere. But is it really the best question and metric for your company? Now that NPS has become a fact of life for corporations, let’s weigh the pros and cons one more time.

Let’s be clear: the advantage to Net Promoter Score is that it is simple. The question—”How likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to your friends and colleagues?”—seems pretty straightforward. Plus, using a simple customer satisfaction metric can make it easy to identify important goals and get staff on the same page.

But NPS does not give management the tools necessary to improve customer experience. Basically, there are three main shortfalls

1. NPS Leaves You in the Dark

If you want to know why you got the score you did, NPS doesn’t explain anything. Even following the NPS question to ask “Why?” won’t solve this problem. You can’t drill down into the score itself. And that means you’re missing crucial information about how your company should move forward.

2. The NPS Question Is Lame

Net Promoter Score’s single-question approach puts all eggs in one faulty basket. The question’s close-ended, yes-or-no format is too black-and-white and the question simply does not work for every situation.

But even if it does apply, the question itself rings false. The language is not customized to your industry, or branded to your company. It sounds like a tired, one-size-fits-all market research question—and your customers can tell.

3. NPS is Not Always Accurate

Weak approaches to customer feedback get weak results. Research has identified problems with questions that presuppose positive responses. Some research has even shown that satisfied customers are more likely to participate in customer feedback surveys. And, certainly, inflated results won’t help you improve customer experience.

Market research on Net Promoter Score has shown some of its drawbacks. In some sectors, NPS just doesn’t cut it. In 2007, one study found little correlation between a company’s NPS and its growth. If you want to improve customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Score might not deliver. And that’s a chance your company can’t take.

But, if you are using NPS, all is not lost. Even just customizing the NPS question can make a difference. And, when your company will allow, augment NPS with the most multifaceted, nuanced methods.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Martha Brooke
Martha Brooke, CCXP + Six Sigma Black Belt is Interaction Metrics’ Chief Customer Experience Analyst. Interaction Metrics offers workshops, customer service evaluations, and the widest range of surveys. Want some ideas for how to take your surveys to the next level? Contact us here.


  1. When it comes to NPS, I agree, there are more than three shortfalls. However some of the problems are common to all multiple choice surveys and not unique to the NPS question itself. Martha


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