Recommendation Calculation

  |  January 19, 2012   |  Comments

How can you get the most out of your Net Promoter Score?

I was out to dinner in London with about eight other online marketing types and somebody spouted a rhyming couplet about analytics.

"That would make a great Burma-Shave sign," I chuckled.

"A what?" They all looked at me like I was speaking Macedonian.

"A Burma-Shave sign!" I said much louder, as if speaking to a deaf uncle, a non-English speaker, or a small child...with the same effect.

"What's that?"

I retorted:

If you don't know
Whose signs these are
You can't have
Driven very far.


I then realized that two of them were from the U.K., one from Canada, one from Finland, and two from Germany. But the other two were American. I scolded the Yanks for not knowing their advertising history and instructed them to look it up on their iPhones immediately.

I explained the small, hand-painted signs by the side of the road and I then cajoled them into reciting some of them.

Does your husband
Grunt and grumble
Rant and rave
Shoot the brute some

Past schoolhouses
Take it slow
Let the little
Shavers grow

Our fortune is
Your shaven face
It's our best
Advertising space

Source: Nostalgia and Now

I was struck by the same feeling of bewilderment last week when I asked the audiences of several conferences if they were familiar with the Net Promoter Score (NPS). They were not. So I explained - without raising my voice.

On a scale of one to 10, tell us:
How likely are you to recommend to a colleague or friend?

That's the seminal question behind the Net Promoter Score. It's that simple and it's mighty revealing.

It is nowhere near as informative nor as scientific as in-depth customer satisfaction surveys and analysis. IPerceptions and OpinionLab have been at it for years. ForeSee has delivered deep insight and specific business recommendations based on its surveys from the start.

But the Net Promoter Score is simple enough that everybody in an organization can quickly agree on its value and adopt its use.

Ask the above question, add up your "promoters," subtract your "detractors," ignore the passives, and the resulting number is your handy-dandy guide to whether your customers like what you're up to or not.


How can you get the most out of such a simple survey?

First, get everybody in the company to care about their scores. (Tying the results to compensation never hurt!) You could even make it a competitive challenge. Understanding the power and value of a promoter and the detrimental impact of a detractor is eye-opening.

Then, it's time to take action. Segment your customers by the above three categories and take action. Keep your promoters happy, give some extra love to those passives, and fix whatever is going on that is making the rest unhappy.

If you extend this thinking to social media, you can then correlate what your customers say to you and how they talk about you out in Twitterville and Blogovia. You can monitor their brand affinity and - above all - their likeliness to recommend you to others.

In the grand scheme of things, that is the ultimate goal that begins with:

  • Awareness: do they know who you are?
  • Attitude: do they like what they see?
  • Propensity to buy: do they intend to part with their hard-earned cash?
  • Purchase: do they actually part with their hard-earned cash?
  • Recommend: are they a proponent?

Imagine you're driving down a country road and see a set of signs flash by:

If customers
Can't see their way
To recommend you
Every day
It's time to
Rev that service motor
And turn them into
Net promoters


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Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne is an international consultant focused on measuring the value of the online marketing for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, produces the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and is co-founder and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association.

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