“Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.”
Instructions for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch - Monty Python*
We all spend a lot of time dealing with the sophistication of Net Promoter but it’s worth, on occasion, reminding ourselves of the merits of getting the basics right.
With this in mind, and with all humility, I offer my Five Laws of Net Promoter as a starting point for discussion. If we need a simple compass to program success, I hope this may help us stay on the right track. Or, you may decide that “five is right out”.
- The First Law of Net Promoter: You need to know your score, and it needs to be trustworthy
- The Second Law of Net Promoter: You must act immediately on customer feedback
- The Third Law of Net Promoter: You need to know how you rank against others
- The Fourth Law of Net Promoter: You need to understand what to do to improve your score
- The Fifth Law of Net Promoter: Your organization needs to be accountable for their score and improving it
Well, there you have it. Simple enough?
Let’s start today with The First Law of Net Promoter...
I will bet that any competitive manager who reads just about any article on NPS will have this question pop into their head: what’s our score? It’s part of our makeup to want to keep score and if you buy into the potential value of NPS, you are drawn to this question like an accountant to a GAAP** statement. For many companies this is where the pilgrimage starts and, for a sad few, where it ends. Because this deceptively simple first law is a bear to follow if you are really ready to trust your data.
Trustworthiness defies a numerical definition. Response rates don’t get you there: many consumer packaged goods companies make major decisions on the basis of 10 people in a focus group. If 9 out of 10 people in your largest account respond but the CEO doesn’t, you may still consider the data untrustworthy. And for skeptics, no customer data is good enough for decision making.
No, it’s a subjective measure. Your data is trustworthy when you are willing to make major decisions based upon it. And only you, or your management team, can figure out exactly where the bar is set. For some, the plural of anecdote is data – a handful of customer comments is sufficiently affirmative to drive a revolution in their business. For others, years of statistically sound data won’t get them there.
We do know that corporate data is a quagmire. Large sophisticated corporations whose CRM systems are chock full of inaccurate or outdated information and for whom customer profitability financials are out of sight – these are the rules, not the exceptions. 30 years of information technology have left us often more confused than when we started. For these companies, their Net Promoter data might, in fact, be the only data they can trust at all. At least they know there is a human being at the other end of the survey, and someone who cares enough about them to provide an opinion. I’ll take that over a GAAP statement any day.
So those are my thoughts on the First Law. Laws Two to Five to follow soon!
*”Five is Right Out” is a quote taken from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, a British comedy film from 1975 that takes an irreverent look at King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The quote refers to the usage of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. To use the grenade, you counted to three, before throwing it. Five was right out – as in too many numbers, too long a count. Other highlights of the film include the coconut-shell horses, the black knight, the knights of Ni and their fondness for shrubberies.
**GAAP: Generally Accepted Accounting Principles refers to the principles used in accounts throughout the U.S. The principles allow a fairer and simpler comparison between the financial positions of different companies. Several organizations contribute to the development of GAAP, most notably the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Though GAAP is not legally binding in itself, the Securities and Exchange Commission requires that all publicly-traded companies follow the principles.