The Net Promoter Score is a hugely popular tool for measuring performance. The number of promoters (scoring 9 or 10), passives (7 or 8) and detractors (0 to 6) has long been used to estimate customer loyalty, and satisfaction; but how effective is the measurement for improving performance in the call centre?

Today, I’m looking at 5 reasons why Net Promoter Scores aren’t helping your call centre; and offering advice on how to get more from your NPS metric.

1) You’re Asking for NPS at the Wrong Time

The basic question at the heart of the Net Promoter Score is a simple one: based on this experience, would you recommend our company to your friends and family? The entire system is based around the scoring of a specific user experience; and crucially, not all forms of customer contact will provide a fair estimation of net promoter score.

Many overzealous companies attempt to survey their customers for NPS as frequently as possible, resulting in customers being surveyed at completely inappropriate times. For example, there are a plethora of reasons for contacting a bank’s call centre. If your customer has checked-in for the simple reason of changing their postal address, it doesn’t make sense to survey for NPS.

Instead of surveying after a trivial customer engagement, it’s far more meaningful to survey after a significant milestone – like, in the example of a bank’s call centre, opening a new bank account.

2) There’s No Universal Definition of a Good NPS

Simply put, there’s no hard-and-fast definition of a ‘good’ Net Promoter Score. Every business is unique, from the products and services it offers, through to the types of people it attracts as employees and customers.

Each of these factors will affect the business’s own unique definition of a ‘good’ NPS. Whilst some businesses will doubtless aspire to the heady heights of Apple’s 80%+ NPS, others may deem any form of positive NPS to be a decent achievement.

This poses a problem in the call centre. The best performance metrics are those which are clear, concise and easy to act upon. With no ‘universal standard’ for a good Net Promoter Score, it can be extremely difficult for people with different levels of ability, experience and available time to understand NPS in the same way.

Without a readily-available, universally-applicable NPS standard to aim for, it can be a difficult metric to use to improve performance.

3) A Positive NPS Isn’t the Same as a Recommendation

The Net Promoter Score is designed to survey future intention: and as the UK general election recently demonstrated, there’s often a huge disparity between intention and action.

Even if your business surveys an overwhelmingly positive NPS, there’s no guarantee that those responses will ever translate into genuine recommendations. The creator of the NPS, Fred Reicheld, has said that other metrics (most notably “likelihood to revisit, repurchase or reuse”) may offer a better indicator of customer loyalty than Net Promoter Score alone.

If the Net Promoter Score is a relatively poor predictor of future customer behaviour, the NPS measurement finds itself reduced to a measure of customer satisfaction at the point of the survey. Whilst this is still hugely valuable information for any business to measure, we already have a metric to determine that: customer satisfaction score (or CSAT).

4) It’s a Subtle and Complex Tool

The previous points speak to a single idea: NPS is a valuable, but inherently subtle, tool. Whilst many metrics allow you to fixate on specific numbers, NPS is best viewed as an indicator of change – allowing you to gauge the changing direction of your customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Without a universal concept of ‘good NPS’ or ‘bad NPS’, it’s an extremely difficult metric to let loose in any operational environment – including the call centre. It’s best used in the context of other performance metrics, when senior management can analyse the trends it indicates; and has limited use in a performance management cycle, where tangible, black-and-white figures are far more helpful and effective.

Whilst there’s no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, it’s important that NPS is viewed as a high-level metric – and isn’t used in day-to-day operational context (like on a staff balanced scorecard!).

To learn another way to improve call centre performance, download our free executive summary below.

How Intraday Automation Can Help Your Call Centre