Beyond Net Promoter(r): measure your emotional preference score


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Classically firms are inward focusing asking questions such as how satisfied are our customers or how likely are they to recommend US. These are all great questions but they all suffer the same problem, they do not differentiate your company in terms of the market.

Think of it this way:

  1. I can say I am very satisfied with your firm, but I can say pretty much the same thing about many other organisations as well
  2. I can say I would highly recommend your firm, but I can say pretty much the same thing about many other organisations as well.

This is important for when customers consider using your services, brands or products they are always consciously or implicitly playing a game of compare and contrast. Your firm does not sit in isolation; it is always set in market context.

So what is a differentiating question, one that considers these market conditions?

One way is to simply ask a question of preference; to what extent do you prefer company x over the competition? As preference over competition necessitates an attitudinal response based on how you are set against the market this seems to be further development on from mere considerations of your firm in isolation. Furthermore, by the way the question is framed; you are looking towards a singular preferred firm not a characteristic that can be shared at the highest levels between firms

Even better when it is ’emotional preference’, when consumers really ‘feel’ that difference, then you are talking about achieving that hallowed blue water between yourself and the competition. Which of course then leads the answer to the question

‘what drives or destroys emotional preference,’ to be much better focused on effective and differentiated returns.

What’s your Emotional Preference Score (EPS)?

The diagram above demonstrates the principle of EPS in its 2×2 box form.

Captives – here there is a low emotional preference to a firm over the market competition but customers still spend highly because they are captured. There are many examples of this, for instance in a convenient grocery store you’re not keen on but go to regularly or your local electricity and gas provider where it is difficult to move between providers. The risk from being in this box is that you have no platform for growth, are open to competitive entry and are at risk internally of creating an inert short-termist and no doubt over-measured culture. Strategy: redesign your experience fundamentally

Inerts – here you are basically just about in business. You may get passing trade or be in a monopolistic situation for certain low need items.

Strategy: completely overhaul your business.

Latents – this is an interesting market position. You have high emotional preference but because of a lack of diversity or communication channels you have failed to grow your share of wallet. Because we are comparing you in the minds of the consumer to your market potential we can see that this is a great platform for growth.

Strategy: diversification

True Loyals – here you are both emotionally preferred and you are getting great share of wallet. This requires a maintenance strategy to keep ahead of the game. Strategy: maintain leadership.

Looking at the market in this way, perhaps you can see how dangerous it is just to make an assumption that high CSAT or Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the end of the story. You could for instance assume your customer base likes you, but they don’t really differentiate that ‘liking’ emotionally from others in the market. You may think you have True Loyals but in fact you have Captives; who are satisfied with you, recommend you, but would not prefer you over other alternatives.

Interestingly this way of looking at the market also means that you can start to see that just because you have a low share of wallet does not mean you are doing badly; you may have a great platform for growth that needs to be expanded: consider those who don’t use you as well as those who do! Think of Apple or Virgin and how they expanded in terms of brand diversification or product innovation.

Management Implications

  1. Define your EPS score
  2. Define the drivers and destroyers of EPS
  3. Plot your strategy
  4. Journey Map your ‘to be’ experience
  5. Pilot and measure change

For Beyond Philosophy, a fundamental to EPS is Emotional Signature® as it teases out emotionalised preference from unfelt preference and is one of the cornerstone market values.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Walden
Steven Walden is Director of Customer Experience at leading CX firm TeleTech Consulting (which includes Peppers and Rogers, iKnowtion and RogenSi). Steven is instrumental in efforts to develop the CX practice promoting thought leadership and CX community engagement and IP development. Prior to TeleTech he was Director of CX at Ericsson, developing their Experience Management Centre and also Head of Research specialising in emotion and journey mapping agency side.


  1. Steven,
    Thanks for the great blog. You are absolutely right, emotion plays a critical role in loyalty, especially in today's market where we have this dynamic combination of an exponential increase of choices, greater consumer ability to take advantage of those choices, decreased product differentiation and an explosion of available information that help us make what we think are the right choices for us. You put all of those dynamics together and, I believe, you get a picture where loyalty itself has been turned on its ear. In essence, consumers today are still loyal, but they are loyal to themselves and, more specifically, the definition that they assign to the value they receive from any given product. You are right on target, because value is defined to a large degree by an emotional quotient, with very practical product features and benefits playing a role. The bottom line is "loyalty” no longer means that I am faithful to your brand or business forever…it means that I am faithful as long as you as an organization and your products live up to my requirement for value in this particular area of my life or business. And I expect that you will continue to work to provide that value and keep me in a loyal place. In other words, loyalty still exists, but it exists in the context of the "choice, information and switching” freedom that today's consumers possess and their pursuit of value for themselves in every area of life and business.

    I really like the way your model focuses on a bias for action. You steer organizations toward looking at the loyalty data they receive and "doing” something with it. We are working with customers in similar ways to help them understand the practical and emotional realities of building loyalty and understand the changes they need to make to ensure that customers walk away from every experience, whether B2B or B2C, with the very real perception that their product or service creates the greatest level of value for them. Thanks again for your work here!

    Dr. John R. Miller


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