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25. May 2022

Evaluating the true core of your client relationships

“Truth has nothing to do with the number of people it convinces”, Paul Claudel advised us already. For me, the 21st century Paul Claudel is Nikki Anderson, the founder of a User Experience Academy. In her recent blog post, she dares to question the value of the NPS (Net Promoter Score) - THE scale probably used most by companies to measure client satisfaction. She outlines in a very thoughtful and fact-based, yet compassionate, way why the NPS might be popular but falling short in evaluating the true quality of client relationships, and what you need to add on.

NPS assumes a correlation between satisfaction and recommendation that is not necessarily given. Sometimes the results can even mislead and result in wrong conclusions. That means, if the NPS is high – e.g. yes, we would highly recommend your website to others – the website can still be itself a product of low quality, e.g. with a lot of bugs that need to be fixed. But unfortunately, if the NPS is high we tend to think that the product quality is high and might miss investing in improvements. The same can happen the other way around: A low NPS does not necessarily mean a product is of low quality. It could also be that the person evaluating the product knows nobody in the surrounding area that has a need for the product, e.g. a certain app or software.

What to do instead? Instead of asking about a future-based opinion (“Would you recommend…”), Nikki suggests asking for perceptions of concrete actions and events that have happened in the past. Here are some of examples: “Did you recommend us to a friend or family member in the last X weeks? Yes (+1), No (-1) “ or “Have you felt frustrated with our product/service in the past X weeks? Yes (-1), Unsure (0), No (+1)”, or “How easy or difficult was it to complete your order online? Very easy (+2), Easy, (+1), Neither (0), Difficult (-1), Very difficult (-2)”. Above all, she refers to existing, validated satisfaction scales from research to draw ideas from.

Thank you, Nikki! I am very grateful for your courageous, constructive and critical view on the NPS, which I share from the perspective of relational research. Besides its knowledgeable content, this blog post is for me a wonderful “role-model” of compassionate critical writing. It’s not at all a simple bashing, blaming or shaming at the expense of others, as we all too often have to read. It’s inclusive, balanced, respectful, and truly advancing the knowledge of us all, in that it’s not written to be proven right, but to make us think. Please more of that! Thank you.

 Dr. Eva Bilhuber
Dr. Eva Bilhuber
Human Facts AG
Founder | Managing Partner
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