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Net Promoter Score as a transactional experience monitoring tool

Now don’t get me wrong, Net Promotor Score has its place and is a very reliable way to measure customer sentiment and track its trend over time. But following a single transaction with a company…? I struggle to understand why a company would want to try and use this as a measure for a single experience.

An example of this is when following a telephone interaction with a telecoms company or a bank you receive a text message survey that asks “Following your interaction today how likely are you to recommend us to a friend? 10 (highly likely) to 0 (unlikely)”. That interaction might have gone very well but if a customer has had a number of bad experiences previously, would they recommend? Would a single good interaction change someone’s opinion and make them forget about past issues? When a customer responds it’s not clear whether they are responding to that single interaction, some indeed might be, or if their response has been influenced by past experiences. Conversely a customer might have had a relatively poor experience on this occasion but generally they’re very happy. How would they respond? So as a measure it’s contaminated by default. One could argue that it’s the trend that matters but it has poor integrity in this application because completely unrelated issues like product quality or availability, billing, website usability or a recent interaction with a branch could affect the response.

What is worse is that some companies reward or penalise staff based directly on the NPS feedback customer give following an interaction with them. This is without trying to understanding other potential influences like whether it was the first call or 5th call to resolve an issue. Some Call Centres even display results on TV screens in full view of everyone. Essentially naming and shaming ‘poor’ performing staff in the assumption that peer pressure will push them to improve ‘their’ performance. But in reality this can be extremely demotivating when negative responses are due to issues completely outside their control.

Some time ago I went into a bank and next to the counter there was the picture below (Fig 1). I asked the teller how many people gave her feedback based on it. “Very rarely” she said “In fact we only proactively ask people when we’ve provided really good service, would you like to give feedback” she said with a big smile. “No” I said “for the exact reason you’ve just explained”. What feedback was obtained was completely misleading.

(Fig 1)

Your likelihood to recommend is based on your entire experience of an organisation not just on a single transaction. Surely it’s better to have a measure that provides feedback on the performance of that specific touchpoint? Questions like ‘Please rate how satisfied you were with….’ or ‘How easy did you find it to….’ or ‘How much effort…’ or ‘Did you find what you’re looking for….’. This provides a much more targeted diagnostic information when looking at potential drivers of poor satisfaction or overall Net Promoter… What are you views on the best way to measure transactional customer experience?

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