Why Your Net Promoter Program Is Failing


Share on LinkedIn

Has the Ultimate Question turned into the Ultimate Letdown for you?

Lots of businesses, large and small, have jumped on the Net Promoter Score (NPS) bandwagon as a means to gauge and improve their customer loyalty. They embed the Net Promoter “ultimate question” into customer surveys (how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague) and – voila! – they wait for the raving fans to shower them with love.

And then they keep waiting… and waiting… and waiting… baffled as to why their Net Promoter score doesn’t budge.

It’s a conundrum that’s all too common. Companies embrace Net Promoter as a measurement elixir to cure all ills, and then are disappointed with the outcome.

Now don’t get me wrong — I think Net Promoter is a very valuable business tool on a variety of levels. But here’s the catch: the most important component of a successful Net Promoter program has nothing to do with Net Promoter. No matter what loyalty metric you favor – success revolves not around the score, but rather, what you do with it.

While it’s nice to know that a customer is likely to recommend your business, that information is essentially meaningless unless you understand the rationale behind the score. The same holds true for dissatisfied customers: getting a low rating is bad; not knowing why you got that rating is much, much worse.

Which brings us to the key element that separates successful customer feedback programs from failed ones: Presuming you’ve structured your customer surveys so you not only have a score, but also the rationale for it – then what do you do?

If your answer resembles something like “file it” or “pass it onto another department” – then thanks for playing and enjoy your extended stay in the land of mediocrity.

The better answer is to actually do something meaningful with the information.

Distill the key themes from the survey results. Pinpoint the top three reasons people cite for being brand advocates, and the top three reasons they cite for being brand terrorists. And then act on it. Do everything in your power to institutionalize the business practices that create fans, and fix those that create detractors.

Calculating an NPS score, or any type of customer rating, is easy. Teasing out insights from the score and using them to drive change – that’s more difficult, but far more energizing for your business.

Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jon Picoult
As Founder of Watermark Consulting, Jon Picoult helps companies impress customers and inspire employees. An acclaimed keynote speaker, Jon’s been featured by dozens of media outlets, including The Wall St Journal and The New York Times. He’s worked with some of the world’s foremost brands, personally advising CEOs and executive teams.Learn more at www.watermarkconsult.net or follow Jon on Twitter.


  1. Jon’s article scratches the surface. As he says NPS isn’t about the score, neither is it just about the what is done with the feedback. Its to do with how the feedback is shared with front line customer service people to allow them to understand how they can improve the customer experience. NPS works provided its implemented and managed correctly.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here