Over the years, companies have developed many different methods for gauging the attitudes and behaviors of their customers. None of these methods is perfect; all are simply attempts to gather data that a company can use to improve its products and processes.
We believe that Net Promoter, as both a specific metric and a management system, is the most useful and practical method. Among its primary advantages:
- Simplicity. Net Promoter surveys typically require just two or three questions, keeping the burden on the customer low. Moreover, the key "likelihood to recommend" question is scored on a simple zero-to-ten scale. There are no complex indices or correlation coefficients. The Net Promoter score is a single number that can be tracked from week to week and month to month, just like net profit. As with net profit, of course, a company’s Net Promoter scores can be broken down however you wish—by business line, by store, by product, even by individual customer-service rep.
- Ease of use. A company can conduct its NPS® surveys by phone, e-mail or Web—whichever generates the best response rates and the most useful data. It can compile and post scores quickly, so that people can see the results of their performance in a timely fashion. It can share up-to-the-minute verbatim comments with employees and managers.
- Quick follow-up. NPS practitioners typically share customer feedback very quickly after it is received. They quickly ask managers or frontline employees to contact every customer who gives an unfavorable score (a detractor), to identify the customer’s concerns, and to fix the problem whenever possible. Frontline managers and senior leaders use NPS data and customer comments to inform decisions about process changes, new products and other innovations.
- A growing body of experience. Thousands of companies in many different industries have begun to measure their Net Promoter scores over the past several years. More important, a growing number of companies have adopted the full Net Promoter system. Among the early adopters are corporate trailblazers such as Apple, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and Philips. These companies have developed successful systems based on Net Promoter principles but adapted to their own business. Many practitioners share their experiences and lessons learned through mechanisms such as the NPS Loyalty Forum.
- Adaptability. As an open-source method—no high-priced vendors or "black box" statisticians required—NPS can easily be put to work in a wide variety of business settings. Apple uses it in its retail stores, American Express after important servicing calls. Logitech, the computer peripherals manufacturer, uses the system to assess what customers think of every Logitech product. Charles Schwab employed a Net Promoter system as it pursued a turnaround.
Customer-related measurements have a long history, and each has its partisans. But we think no other method has as many advantages as the Net Promoter system.