Last week in Rome, the descriptively titled “2nd Optimising the Customer Experience Forum " featured a strong lineup of around 70 customer experience directors, who promptly turned the conference into a discussion forum for NPS in Europe. The shape of the discussion was pretty interesting as it tells us something of the state of the nation for Net Promoter.
Love it or hate it, Net Promoter is ubiquitous. Remember, this wasn't a conference on NPS - but it still featured as a topic in a full three out of every four presentations. If it wasn't part of the presentation, it was almost always part of the debate in Q&A.
We had always worked on the theory that UK+ Northern Europe (I love it that we Brits have a habit of seeing ourselves as separate from northern Europe) was a faster adopter than Southern or Eastern. That's still true, but by far less of a margin than we had originally thought. Large corporations in Italy (Telecom Italia), Eastern Europe and even the Middle East (Emirates airline) were getting in on the act.
But what was really interesting was the nature of the debate.
The NPS debate is still about the metric. Which is a shame in many ways as it's almost certainly not going to convince anyone on either side. In addition, it misses the central point of Net Promoter which is about the process, or the discipline behind it.
Here are the arguments we heard, pro and con.
PRO-NPS folk typically focused on the outcomes they believed they were getting. "It works in our business". The degree of perfection around the metric itself seems less important to them (the debate is not relevant to their decisions) because it's secondary to other factors, such as ease of internal communication or implementation. Ultimately, getting results from their program was the deciding factor. The role of these people in their organizations were often concerned with operational improvements.
ANTI-NPS people throught the metric to be too simplistic, and made the case that there are better (more sophisticated) models out there. Generally they perceive "baskets" of metrics to be more stable and a better predictor of their business outcomes. Frequently, these people have roles that require them to focus on data analytics and their job is to provide insight into customer issues and strategic change.
Of course, this is a generalization and simplification, but you probably get the overall sense of the discussion.
So I restate my original objection: who is being convinced by this discussion? Companies are not challenged around customer experience improvement because they have not been successful designing the perfect metric. It's that very focus that is letting them down.
Choosing Net Promoter and failing to implement the broad range of process improvements required for success is misplaced energy. If choosing a simple metric like NPS enables you to focus your energy on driving adoption and creating change in your organization, then it's working for you. If you think you can accomplish the same outcomes with more complex solutions, then good for you.... stick with what's working.