Last week I met with the head of CX of a company which I can only describe as a "highly evolved species" in the area of customer experience. In fact, if I'd tell you their name you'd consider them as one of the world's leaders in the game.
As we were discussing a project I was doing with their international leadership team, NPS came up as a topic of conversation. At this point, I was kindly but firmly recommended "not to mention that word in our company".
I had to say, I was more than a bit taken aback. Not just because I'm an avid NPS proponent. But also because everything NPS stands for is embedded in the DNA of this business. If NPS didn't exist, they'd invent it. So I couldn't resist asking "why", and then the story came:
"There's nothing wrong with NPS per se, but it's too crude a measure for us. I mean, we ran the numbers and ended up with an NPS between 50 and 70% per country (using a 5 point score in which 5 = promoter). But all it tells us is a score, in which it's hard to see or explain what the score means. We need to know why people become detractors, which emotional triggers turn them into promoters, how you connect the propensity to recommend to actual recommendation. We want to compare what we do to the competition and see where we're ahead or behind them. And so much more."
Any NPS aficionado will know that an accurately implemented Net Promoter approach will tell you all these things and more, but what is remarkable to me is that that a brand like the one I met could have such misconceptions about the approach.
I could chalk this up to one company not getting the NPS memo, but in the past few months I've heard various - well-placed - people dismiss Net Promoter for reasons which are simply incorrect. Not to mention the Net Promoter implementations I've seen which which only use the system at 50% capacity or (worse) are an outright disaster.
I'm not the only one to notice this. When attending last weeks Net Promoter Conference in London, even Fred Reichheld himself lamented that 65% of TOP 2,000 companies now use NPS, yet most do this only at a very superficial level.
I've heard some NPS practitioners complain that "these people just don't get it" or that they "should go to a certification programme". But the reality is that these people are NPS "customers". They don't need to "get it" by themselves. The reality is that we, as an NPS community and advisors, have apparently failed in explaining the power of the system.
Part of this is understandable. The Net Promoter System is still a rapidly evolving discipline, in which communication will always lag reality. But if we're honest, NPS has also become a bit of an "in crowd phenomenon" with the same people talking to the same people about the same topics. I feel that - as a community - we've lost a bit of the convincing zeal of the early days.
My call, to everyone who cares about Net Promoter, is to bring back this energy and make sure that everyone time we communicate about Net Promoter, the recipient of our message understands the full power of NPS. My fear is that if we fail to do this, the negative word of mouth around the system will structurally start limiting its adoption before it really can go mainstream.
Or do you think I'm seeing ghosts?