(Note: Due to concerns that the strong language of my original blog would overshadow the message, I have rewritten the first paragraph. The goal of this blog is to stimulate conversation – admittedly, through confrontation – in order to determine what correlation NPS really has and how to best use it, or not!)
As the Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) analyst in the Market Insights Team, I get a lot of questions about Net Promoter Score (NPS). As the “ultimate question,” NPS is being positioned as a cure to all business ills and a way to understand everything you need to know about your customers . . . with just one question. Most market insights professionals struggle with NPS as it goes against our training to accept data correlations which have not been proven. Presenting actionable insights tied to NPS when correlation has not been proven? It feels like selling snake oil and is likely one of the drivers for the view that “researchers hate this metric.”
Has NPS — like Britney Spears’ singing — been overhyped?
My professional colleagues — including Timothy L. Keiningham, Bruce Cooil, Tor Wallin Andreassen and Lerzan Aksoy (A Longitudinal Examination of Net Promoter and Firm Revenue Growth) and Jeffrey Henning (Net Promoter Score [NPS] Criticisms and Best Practices) — have already beautifully, and very analytically, dissected and disproven NPS. They are not alone in their views or criticisms. So, why do we still use NPS when there is no clear statistical conclusions as to its effectiveness?!
First off, this is not a personal question. It’s business. In fact, it’s the most important question in business — and executives are asking it every day.
How can you quantify your contribution to the business? And do you even want to spend your precious time on this? Based on Forrester’s research, the answer is pretty clear: yes. Within the next 3 years, more than half of market insights professionals expect to have to quantify their ROI to the business. Executives are pushing marketing to show its ROI and will soon put pressure on market insights. Are you ready?
Market insights professionals tend to see it as difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the value and ROI of their organization. How do you quantify the impact of an intangible service that is not sold? In researching the answer, I found a couple of smart approaches, like market insights soliciting bids on a project — which they intend to do internally — to determine the fair market value (FMV) of its service. I also found some questionable approaches, like calculating the theoretical opportunity cost of not doing research.
When looking at business impact, there are typically three types of measurements of success: 1) hard metrics, which have known links to revenue and/or profit gain; 2) soft metrics, which have known links to business improvement but unclear links to actual revenue and/or profit gain; and 3) the “halo effect”, a non-quantifiable gain that doesn’t necessarily translate into immediate customer action but can help drive business results incrementally and over the long run: