OK, so I have my NPS or CSAT score. Is it good or bad?

OK, I have my NPS number. Is it good or bad?” There are two parts to the answer. First, the score does not tell you much on its own. The reasons customers give for the scores and what they want you to improve are more important. Second, the absolute score number is meaningless. What matters are how it compares to your competition and whether it is improving or getting worse. Let’s start by talking about the score.

Scores vary greatly by industry

Not alone are average NPS scores quite different by industry, they vary widely within an industry. The first diagram below shows the results of a NPS Temkin benchmark survey, for example. The overall message you should take here is that a single number is meaningless in isolation. An NPS of 15 is horrible for a supermarket and approaches best-in-class for an ISP or cable TV provider. There is one subtlety in NPS theory that is worth noting here: you gain or lose share when your NPS trend is more or less favorable compared to the leading competitor. The Temkin table considers all competitors to be equal when calculating the average score. Some of the extreme scores below will be for companies that may not be relevant (unless they happen to be your own company). As noted at the bottom, the graph expresses the views of US consumers. Scores also vary by country, and I will cover that another time.

Temkin NPS

Validation using CSAT scores by industry

The variations by industry are of course not unique to NPS. Table 2 shows the American Customer Satisfaction Index scores by industry as of today (November 8th, 2017). The pattern is similar to that for NPS scores. Since NPS numbers can vary from -100 to +100, and ACSI numbers only from 0 to 100, it is to be expected that there is far less variation in the ACSI scale. Remember that these are not NPS numbers.

ACSI scores by industry

Communicating the ‘goodness’ of your NPS scores

Once you are confident you understand the range of scores for your industry and geographical coverage, I suggest communicating some round numbers in a consistent way. For example, if you are in the supermarket business in the USA, try saying “30 is good, 40 is great, 50 is world-class.” Make sure you understand where your most important competitor is within the range.

Recognizing ‘marketing’ NPS scores

I suppose I am being polite here. I have seen too many companies trumpeting things like “Our NPS is 92” with no indication of the source for the number. The only acceptable source you should use for such statements is a reputable double-blind benchmark survey. If you use anything else, you should at least provide the source. I have been reading double-blind benchmark survey results for many industries for many years. I have never seen a score of 92.


As always, feel free to disagree below or write to be at mfg@customerstrategy.net. As you might expect, the above is has been adapted from a chapter in our book Net Promoter – Implement the System, available on Amazon.