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Why does Net Promoter Score fall short?

Everywhere you turn these days, someone wants to ask the Net Promoter Score question. When first introduced in an HBR article in 2003, it was a welcome way to simplify the customer discovery task. And NPS remains a useful tool.

But NPS on its own falls short. Why? Because many companies report their numerical NPS scores without understanding enough about why they have those scores, and more important, what they can do to drive NPS.

Scaling_it_-_Eigenworks_pptxThis isn't really the fault of the NPS creators. After all, the NPS question itself is always followed by the question "why". But asking why on its own won't yield much. Worse, most NPS surveys are done online, often using some kind of popup. It's cheaper that way! You can even ask them why! But if you ask them why online, you'll likely get a short response, and not much insight.

To really understand how to move NPS, you have to go beyond why. You have to understand the deep customer story.

I used to talk about 5-whys, which is a really great concept, but it's still not really enough. The problem is that if you actually ask someone the question why five times in a row, that person will either end the conversation or it will end up sounding like a Louis CK routine (NSFW).

The solution to this challenge is to abandon why, slow down, and discover the deep customer story. I'll talk about that in another post.

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