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March 9, 2011


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They Say They’ll Recommend You, So What?

The annual Net Promoter Industry Benchmarks were recently reported. It’s probably not all that surprising that USAA (87%), JetBlue Airways (60%), and American Express (56%) were the big winners in their categories.

As you may know, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) asks consumers about their "willingness to recommend" a given brand and provides an overall score by subtracting the number of ‘bottom-box’ responses (a 6 or lower) from the number of ‘top-two-box’ (9 or 10) responses. In this national study 22,000 U.S. consumers were asked to rate 170 individual brands encompassing a wide variety of industry sectors. And, in case you’re wondering, yes it is pos-sible to get a negative NPS score, just ask HSBC Bank (-13%) or Citigroup (-6%).

Is that all you really need?

We might argue, as some have, despite Fred Reichheld’s (the creator of NPS) confidence in recommendation that it is no better than asking consumers about their intention to repurchase or their overall satisfaction with a brand. Or we could challenge, as others have, that willingness to recommend doesn’t correlate very well with the actual behavior of recommending. - - But there’s actually a much more troubling issue that must be addressed regarding the strategic value of NPS as the "Ultimate Question" and therefore the only ques-tion you needed to be asked. The fact is that if you are anything other than one of the category leaders, and you desire to improve the experience that you are providing your customers, then you need much more information than you can get from NPS’s single question. You need an objective under-standing of the total experience you are providing to your customers. This understanding can only come from an examination of each and every touch-point (major points of interaction), and the experiential components compris-ing each touchpoint. We believe these elements are the building blocks that customers use to consciously or sub-consciously evaluate their experiences with any organization to determine whether or not to use that business again.

Setting Improvement Priorities

Without that customer feedback data there is no way for management to know how they stack up to customer evaluations, and most importantly no way to know what changes in process, policies, training, physical environ-ments, or customer communications should get the top priorities as budget-ing takes place. To learn more about optimizing the customer experience please call us or visit our website,

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Customer Experience Partners, LLC
Measurement, Management, Optimization
Contact us at: 203-655-0090 or

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