The Net Promoter Score No No – Do not use NPS if it makes no sense to do so


0 nps no

Net Promoter Score (or NPS as it is also known) has been written and spoken about thousands of times over the last few years. Whilst some see it as the simplest (and cheapest) way to capture customer feedback, others dismiss it as far too simplistic with an inability to allow the organisation using it to understand what issues need to addressed.

Using the NPS scoring system as an analogy, I am neither a promoter nor a detractor of the methodology – although I would say the same thing for any customer feedback mechanism. As I will tell any business that asks me – every organisation is different – different customers; employees; business structure; issues; environment etc.. What each individual organisation needs to do to improve the customer experience will de dependent on its situation. This includes the adoption of a customer feedback programme.

NPS is a very effective tool to help a business understand customer loyalty – but it does not apply to every business. I have very successfully encouraged organisations to adopt it.  These tend to be businesses looking to grow – the more likely one customer is to recommend the business to someone else, the greater the likelihood is that they will achieve the growth they are looking for.

NPS is obviously not the only customer feedback mechanism available. Customer Satisfaction is very commonly deployed, whilst ‘Customer Effort Score’ has become more prominent in the last couple of years. None is right, none is wrong – what is important is that an organisation deploys what is right for them. More often than not, I will recommend using two methods – one to galvanise support in the organisation, and one to provide a granular understanding of the priorities for improvement.

Sadly, NPS is often abused and misused – I would like to share with you a very current example. Yesterday, Mrs Golding unfortunately had to pay a visit to the Accident & Emergency department of our local hospital in Chester. Naomi’s injury was a long way from life threatening, but she was sent there by our General Practitioner. To cut a long story short, Naomi had a piece of ceramic tile stuck in her foot – a little like a splinter – and it needed to be removed as quickly as possible.

I dropped Naomi off at the hospital at 11:30am, and collected her at 15:45. We did not expect her visit to be swift!! In the hours Naomi was at the hospital, she observed and experienced a number of things – from the packed, not particularly clean waiting room, to friendly nurses and helpful doctors. By the time she hobbled out of the hospital, her objective had been met – her foot was sore, but the problem was solved.

Of all of the experiences we have today – especially in the UK – the one that we might least expect to be asked about is our experience at an NHS hospital. When Naomi looked at her phone later that day and saw a text message from an unknown number – she was intrigued. The unknown number turned out to be from the Countess of Chester Hospital – the image below is of the text message:

0 nps no no no

Instantly Naomi knew I would be interested in seeing it – she was right. My immediate thought was No No No!! Why on earth is an Accident and Emergency department of the only NHS hospital with an A&E department in Chester asking the NPS question??? What better example can be provided of an inappropriate use of the NPS methodology? Why on earth would anyone NOT recommend the A&E department in a city where there is only one??? Would anyone ask a paramedic to drive on to the hospital in the next city as they were told by a friend not to use the local one??

I think that the intent of the text message is correct – the method is completely wrong. I once attended a meeting where the now defunct NHS Direct shared with the group that their NPS score was close to 100% – this was yet another example of an organisation using the wrong method – NHS Direct was unique – you would never have NOT recommended it!!

I can tell you right now that the Countess of Chester Hospital will learn nothing from this survey – they will not have any idea that the waiting room was not clean, that certain members of staff were kind and polite, that the waiting times were satisfactory or not. The NPS score they receive will be extremely high. They may perceive as a result that the A&E department is doing a great job.

There is NO POINT capturing customer feedback unless that feedback enables your organisation to understand what the priorities for improvement are. If you want to get a great customer feedback score for the purposes of vanity, put your business in a monopoly situation and then ask the NPS question. The A&E department at the Countess of Chester Hospital would be much better served asking patients how satisfied they were with a small number of touchpoints during their visit – from waiting room, to triage assessment, to staff engagement etc.. If they carry on asking patients if they would recommend the unrecommendable, the result will be quite simple – a complete waste of money!