The Net Promoter System® is defined and documented in one single way – Everything else is fake news
I have been trying to work out why most Net Promoter System implementation I see are missing even some basic things. I believe I have found a new way of thinking about the problem.
The relationship between countries’ constitutions and the Net Promoter System
Many countries have a constitution. The constitution is the fundamental law of a country, and sets out the principles by which a country should operate. The United States has a constitution, and it has been enhanced by a number of amendments over the years. Here in Switzerland, the constitution dates from 1848, and our direct democracy model means we have the opportunity to propose and vote on amendments every three months. I think of these constitutional models as ‘open systems’. They are public, are clearly documented, and can be improved over time.
The Net Promoter System follows the same model. The current version of the NPS ‘constitution’ is The Ultimate Question 2.0 by Fred Reichheld and Rob Markey. The constitutional amendments are documented in a single location: the netpromotersystem.com website. The website includes a blog and podcasts that define the amendments to the NPS constitution.
Any representation of a country’s laws that does not take amendments to the constitution into account is wrong. And any representation of the Net Promoter System that does not take the updates on the website into account is wrong.
90% plus of all companies do not even use the correct NPS survey questions
Before trying to draw some conclusions, I would like to make a distinction between the score and the system. Since Net Promoter is an open system, anyone can take whatever element they like and combine it with whatever they want. This is what almost all software vendors and consulting companies have done with the Net Promoter Score. While defining the score correctly, they combine it with open questions and improvement processes that are not the same as those documented in the Net Promoter System. Indeed, I feel confident when I say (without any proof other than my experience of answering about a hundred NPS-type feedback requests that I have received over the last two years) that 90% or more of all companies that use the score do not even use the correct survey questions, let alone the rest of the system. The same applies to vendors that supply NPS software.
Unfortunately, the same applies to training. NICE Satmetrix is the only certified NPS training provider and I believe they currently only offer training in what they call NPS2. NPS2 is something different from the Net Promoter System as defined by its reference point. This is unfortunate, given they are joint holders of the NPS service marks, together with Bain and Fred Reichheld. Bain provides training that is individually customized to the needs of their implementation customers, but does not offer a standard course of any kind.
Standardization beyond the recommendation question matters. At the very least, please use the correct open questions in your implementation. For overall brand and relationship research, the questions that should follow the scoring question are ‘Why?’ and ‘What could we do better?’. Close approximations to the second question are acceptable, such as ‘What should we improve?’. Being consistent on these will at least allow software vendors to provide better survey and text analytics software.
If we can all be more consistent in how we implement the Net Promoter System, we will all find it much easier to communicate. It is already the system that is easiest to communicate. However, our apparent collective difficulty in keeping up to date with its ‘amendments’ make us less consistent than we should be. I do not know of any company that provides a training course that corresponds to the current version of the Net Promoter System. If you know of one, I will be happy to mention it here. In the meantime, please use The Ultimate Question 2.0 and the netpromotersystem.com websites as your reference points. And of course, recent books on implementing NPS according to this design should be useful too. Hmm… ah yes, I can think of one: our own Net Promoter – Implement the System.
As always, feel free to agree or disagree below, or by sending me email at firstname.lastname@example.org.