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How likely are you to recommend NPS to your friends and family?

By | Customer experience, Customer Satisfaction, NPS

I remember having a conversation a few years ago with a senior manager of a telecommunications company who declared “our happiest customer is the one who has a fault and then rings us” I challenged this at the time, “surely a happier customer is one who doesn’t have a fault”…… apparently, I was wrong, because the Net Promoter Score (NPS) told him this..

Is this right AND, should this drive our actions to improve our customers experiences in the future?

This has stayed with me over the last few years and I have been largely sat in silence trying to understand this further and exactly:

How has the NPS measure become so widely adopted?


What should it be used for vs. what is it actually used for?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the measure then:

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) measure:

It is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend your company’s products or services to others. It is to gauge the customer’s overall satisfaction with your company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand.

Respondents are grouped into 3 buckets

  • ‘Detractors’ gave a score lower or equal to 6.
  • ‘Passives’ gave a score of 7 or 8.
  • ‘Promoters’ answered 9 or 10.

The actual Net Promoter Score (NPS) is determined by subtracting the percentage of customers who are detractors from the percentage who are promoters. What is generated is a score between -100 and 100. This is called the Net Promoter Score or NPS.

E.g.  if when surveyed, all of the customers gave a score lower or equal to 6, this would lead to a NPS of -100. On the other end, if all the customers were answering the question with a 9 or 10, then the total Net Promoter Score would be 100.

NPSLet’s consider this hypothetical situation, I am definitely not suggesting you start scoring the ‘office brew round’.

Whilst you are reading this you may have a cup of your favourite hot drink in front of you, So:

Have you ever had a cup of tea or coffee made for you by a colleague in the office, on a post it they write down each person’s choice or they try and remember it, before heading off to the kitchen to get to work.

Think about how likely you are to recommend them to make a cup for your friends and family? What score would you give them out of 10? And, what could they do what that score if you told them a few days afterwards?

What kind of things would you consider when scoring?

  • Was it too hot or cold?
  • Was the cup only half full (I’ve had a few made for me like that, who had the other half?)
  • Did it take too long to arrive?
  • Did it get spilled on your desk?
  • Was it too strong or weak?
  • Was it in your cup or one of the emergency ones from the cupboard?
  • Did they write your order down or remember it?
  • Did they smile when they asked you?

Etc etc.

If everybody who had a brew made for them by the same person scored, this would give that individual an overall NPS score, BUT, what could they actually do with that??


  • If this was the only person who made a brew and got scored – How do you know what a good score is?
  • Where would you/they look to target improvements? Trying to get someone who scored a 1 or a 2 to a 6? Is that a good improvement? It may be? but they are still a detractor so would not affect your NPS.

Ultimately the above example is to get you to think about when and where to use NPS or any measure, this example is over simplified but hopefully you understand what I am saying.

I don’t want you to think I am using this post to beat up the NPS metric, I genuinely believe it does add value BUT, it has to be used correctly.

Some positives about NPS

  • It is a common cross sector metric that may allow you to benchmark across individual sector and wider
  • It is easy to read – apparently that’s one of the main reasons for its popularity, I would argue that simplicity has also driven its misuse, due to the lack of actual understanding and people just try to improve the number any way they can!
  • It provides insight – yes it does
  • Its an overall measure of the brand – but not necessarily based on a single specific experience
  • A higher NPS generally correlates with growth and revenue

Why do we use NPS?

Why do we use NPS. This is a question I have often wondered and on a recent LinkedIn post of mine, it was also asked by a contributor, in my experience I have witnessed reason(s) for its use as:

  • A competitor has publicised their score so you need one
  • You need a measure for your CX programme
  • You want to drive your CX strategy with customer insight
  • You need a customer focussed measure for an individual’s bonus
  • Because you think it’s the right thing to do

Whatever the reason it has been chosen to be used, it should not be used without knowing what you want to get from it!

Please answer me this, is your NPS measure divorced from operational reality?  i.e. how much knowledge of the work do we understand or need to understand from your score? If you have ‘not a lot’ then could NPS drive leader’s decision without a true understanding of the operational issues? – Should they go and ‘get knowledge’ to support this?

Therefore truly understanding ‘why’ you are measuring and what you want from any measure is key!

Do leaders use NPS to drive the right behaviours?

Ultimately it depends on how you are using the measure as NPS is a measure of customer advocacy. So, a Net Promoter Score can and will give the Board and other teams an idea of the level of loyalty someone feels toward their product, service and brand.

I know some companies who reward individuals based on a Net Promoter Score, but is this fair for the individual? People confuse it for Customer Satisfaction when NPS is whole company measure……….Can individuals influence all the things customers perceive as their experience?

What we need to remember, NPS is measure of all of us, it is not really a measure of the individual personally….

There is an easy way to tell if someone is bonussed on NPS, situations like this occur:

Just before I finished writing this article, I had an issue with my broadband, at the end of the call the advisor said:

Lee, you may be asked to complete a survey at the end of this call is there anything I have done that would prevent you from answering a 10”.

My reply “just asking that question”. Silence and an apology followed before we ended the call.

I would say this is and there are other examples of bad practise. If you gather data this way how can you use it to drive the right behaviours?

NPS like most metrics are driven top down until they reach they actual worker. This results in them having to develop their own improvement strategy and the actions come from this, but are they the right ones??

NPSHow should you set up when using NPS

NPS if not used correctly can point you towards addressing an issue after it has failed, it may not point you towards the initial failure. So, what can you do to make measuring NPS successful?

As NPS is based on an opinion after the event from a %age of the population about their future intent to do business with you again. This measure by itself is not usable to drive improvement without some critical steps being put in place first, I would suggest:

  • Understand your organisations purpose
  • Understand who your customers are
  • Have clarity on the leaderships reasons for implementing a measure and what they want to achieve
  • Align your strategies incl. Employee Engagement strategy
  • Understand how you will get to the specific things that need to be acted on from your NPS score i.e. the root causes

If you currently measure NPS, how many of those 5 things do you have in place?

So, in summary:

NPS is a gauge of advocacy which allows for benchmarking and strategic positioning. But, to shift the dial operationally there are more granular measures that can identify the specifics needing to be worked on, and, Ultimately – Without the right buy-in and reasons for any measure you will really be up against it to make it successful!



About the author:

Lee Houghton is a Management Consultant for Lean Consulting. His 12 year multi sector background has provided him the opportunity to develop his approach of both CX & Improvement best practise to deliver real results.

How close are your Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Strategies?

By | Customer experience, Customer Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Lean Culture

Double acts have long been part of many peoples lives, from Morecambe & Wise, Penn & Teller or even Cake & Custard. These have each had their own success and in business there are two things that I believe you should look at together. Not as a comedy, magic act or dessert, but, together as one that can deliver you real bottom line results, if taken seriously. This double act is “Employee Engagement” and “Customer Experience”.

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup

There should be clear alignment between these two, let me explain further.

Many studies have shown that there is a strong link between an engaged workforce and a satisfied customer base. One of these studies conducted by CX Measurement Experts Foresee shows the correlation between these 2 measures:


Customer Experience and Employee Engagement graphThe link between Customer Experience and Employee Engagement provided by Foresee

If, Happy Employees = Happy Customers then, why do I still hear stories that are part and parcel of some organisations DNA today, they command and control, or rule by fear yet outwardly express their desire to satisfy customers.

Have you ever worked in an organisation where the person who normally sits next to you is not in today with the reasons unknown? Then a few weeks later a “pursuing other opportunities” email hits your inbox late one Friday afternoon.

Consider how this makes or would make you feel?

And, how did/would you feel during those few weeks? Worried about your colleague and your own job? more than putting the customer at the fore of your mind?

This is just one example and hopefully a rare one.

Other examples of ways to see the strain on employees, is the level of unpaid overtime or working many hours to “get the job done”. I have been guilty of this and at times still am. This should not be an expected state each day or week and should be the exception.

What do employees want?

A lot of organisations I have asked, have an annual employee engagement survey to understand how engaged their workforce is. Is this enough? and how can you truly understand how engaged your people are if you ask them once a year. Some organisations even measure managers on completion rates of these surveys. Are you really getting the truth from your people? I would say not and suggest:

Ask often and ensure a safe environment is provided for the feedback

Reward and recognition features high in most “wants” from employees when asked. This does not have to always be monetary and in some instances a ‘thank you’ is enough. When was the last time you said it to each member of your team?

You may think that some don’t deserve it. If not, why do they not? Is there anything about the environment they work in that is driving their behaviour?

Richard Branson Employee Engagement

The parallel between Employee Engagement and Customer Experience Strategies

As an organisation you need to ensure there is a parallel with your employee engagement strategy and your customer experience one. You cannot and should not really have one without the other, if you genuinely want to be customer centric. Unless that is you are just after a badge or Customer Experience (CX) certificate to stick on your fridge.

The actions you deliver are a truer measure of success. It is generally perceived the most impactful Customer Experience actions to deliver are systemic ones e.g. a new website or a new computer system. I would however encourage as much, if not more effort needs to go on the cultural and process improvements to really deliver you lasting results.

The way people in your organisation are treated can manifest itself as a direct reflection on your overall performance. What I am not saying  is give everyone a pay rise, but, create an environment that allows them deliver for your customers.

You may be a senior leader or manager. If so, your employees could be your customers, and as my mum always told me “treat people as you would want to be treated yourself”, is that too much to ask for everyone?

Who wins the employee or the customer?

It is a complete win-win situation. Whilst engaged employees lead to satisfied customers, the opposite is also true. Satisfied customers play a large role in employee engagement.

Positive customer experiences and showcasing these back to employees is vital especially those responsible for delivering that specific experience. This can reinforce how employees feel about the value and purpose of their work. If done correctly it can also motivate them to continue to deliver to this level.

Don’t forget though, as I am talking about acting on a plan another thing that can impact employee engagement is how you approach change. Change is uncomfortable for many people. Whether the first day you go to school or any act that challenges your comfort levels needs to be managed carefully.

A few pointers on how to effectively deal with change for the employees.

• You need to clearly articulate WHY there is a need for change but not from the perspective of the business, WHY is it better for the individual. These messages may need to be adapted for different levels or areas of the business, but, it needs to be centric to the individual receiving the message.

• Be inclusive where possible, I am a big believer in “the person who does the work knows most about it”, therefore why not include them in the discussions and development. Where possible also include customers to ensure what you develop is fit for the employee and meets the specific needs of your customer.

What is needed to succeed?

So, with both Employee Engagement and Customer Experience, I believe the 4 critical success factors are:

1. A shared vision
2. Ask often
3. Analyse results
4. Act with purpose

Is this anything to do with Lean?

Respect for people” and “Continuous Improvement” are the key principles of Lean. A simple definition for the ‘Respect for people’ principle cannot fully capture its meaning. However, “People” is not just employees. Above I talk about 2 different sets of people both customers and employees, but you need to consider all people whether they be employees, suppliers, customers, communities, and competitors – ultimately anyone.

Ultimately ensure your system/process is aligned to deliver maximum value for all ‘people’.

Therefore, aligning your Employee Engagement and Customer Experience strategies are ultimately the key to your organisations success.

Finally, if after reading this you are confused like me as to why businesses are not taking this more seriously. Then let’s talk. Or even better, let’s get together and figure out what we can do about it. Contact me at Lee.Houghton@leanconsulting.com or via my LinkedIn profile

Every time i access the NHS it's painful & wasteful

Every time I access the NHS it’s painful & wasteful

By | Customer experience, Customer Service, Lean Thinking
On Tuesday I had a flare up of an ailment I sometime get (once or twice a year) in my foot. A simple medicine takes care of it – but it requires a prescription.

Irritatingly, I went to take my medicine to find I only had 1 or 2 pills left. On Wednesday, I called by doctors surgery to ask if they can give me another prescription for the medicine. They’ve prescribed it before and it’s not a very dangerous class of drug. Read More

Does high performance equal great customer experiences

Does high performance equal great customer experiences?

By | Customer experience, Lean Thinking, Lean Training

We have worked with some great teams. Teams who are experts in their field; truly committed to the cause and proud of the knowledge that they hold.

These teams hit their SLA’s, their visual management is awash with green and they have fantastic people retention. This sounds perfect doesn’t it?

What about their customer’s experience though? Are their customers delighted about the service they receive? Are they leaving awesome reviews? Unfortunately, not always…

The performance of a team is one thing, but the experience a customer has with an organisation can be totally different. We’ve worked with high performing teams but when we get under the skin and gather the voice of the customer and map the end to end customer journey, it can be found that the customer has endured a complex, clunky experience, which has generated dissatisfaction.

So, how can a customer be dissatisfied with the service of a high performing team?

Let’s take a quick moment and look at a customer journey for changing your personal details with your bank:

You phone the bank, key in your account details into the automated service, and then you are presented to an advisor.  You inform the advisor that you need to change your address and your bank details. The advisor asks you to confirm your account details, as well as other Data Protection being carried out. The advisor proceeds to make the necessary changes to your address. Once done, you are informed that another team has to update your bank details. You are then transferred through to the payment team. They ask you Data Protection questions again, and once satisfied, they update your payment details. The total duration of the call was over 14 minutes.

Although both teams met their own call time targets and carried out their Data Protection questions, the customer still left frustrated. Frustrated that they had to provide their account details verbally as well as electronically, frustrated that they had to speak to two different teams, and frustrated that they had to provide Data Protection answers twice.

If this bank put themselves in to the shoes of the customer and walked the process themselves, and documented the process end to end, they would quickly understand why their customers are dissatisfied and work out how to make improvements to the process. So, let’s not ask non value added questions, let’s design a process that delivers first time call resolution and therefore reduce hand offs, and whilst meeting Data Protection requirements, let’s not over process.

Attending a training course with Lean Consulting will provide you with a detailed overview of the tools and techniques required to document and analyse the end to end process and customer journey. The courses shall talk you through the challenges organisations face as a result of their silo approach to meeting customer demand, and the benefits of adopting collaboration and how much more productive and effective companies are if their teams are all rowing in the same direction.

Our training courses aren’t just about learning the tools and techniques of lean sigma either; you will also get so much value from collaborating with others in the room that will maximise your experience and learning.

We’d love to work with you and support you on your Continuous Improvement journey.

Customer Journeys can be tricky buggers

Customer Journeys can be tricky buggers…

By | Customer experience, Fintech, Lean Thinking, Management

Recently, we moved our business bank accounts from one of the major banks to another. We’d had repeatedly bad service to the point where going through the hassle of changing banks was better than stay where we were.

By and large, it’s been ok. Not great, but OK. Would I recommend our new bank? Probably not. Would I warn people not to use them? Probably not either.

I’m completely ‘meh’ about them. Here’s why.

Today, I received an email from them (a real email!) saying I had IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS added to my library. IF that wasn’t enough it went on to say “Please take some time to read it as soon as possible, as it may need a response.”

So I duly logged into my online banking to read this incredibly important message. You see, a few weeks ago I opened a second bank account with this bank.

I open my messages to find… a letter advising me that they have set up online banking for me.

They literally just told me to log into my online banking so I could read a letter confirming I have online banking! Obviously completely unnecessary.

It likely stems from moving all the old world paper-based comms into the digital world, without really taking the time to understand how the message changes or is impacted by the digital world. We see this all the time. A kind of ‘lift and shift’ from paper to digital. It creates a poor and clunky customer journey.

The problem with this is that they took up my time reading the email they sent me. More time logging into online banking with its 2 stage verification. Then downloading the letter itself and reading it. 10 minutes of my time wasted.

Things like this are important – not because it will make a customer leave, but because it’s death by 1000 cuts. It adds to my overall sense of being underwhelmed with the bank.

And there have been other examples of this. Like the time I first used their online banking. I went to pay all my staff and they flagged all the payments as potential fraud. I had to call them to verify the payments. Extra layers of security including explaining what each payment was for (why would they need to know that!?). When I asked why these had been flagged, the response?

“Well sir, you have to admit it’s highly suspicious when you’ve only had your account open for a few weeks and you start making large payments. Of course it’s going to trigger an alert with us”.

It’s a business bank account! Of course there are going to be large transactions moving through it.

I can’t be the only employer out there who pay’s their staff, right? Or have I got this whole running a business thing mixed up?

I have more little examples of time wasting but I’ve taken up enough of yours. I won’t be leaving the bank unless (until?) things start to go really bad, but I won’t be advocating them to anyone. No referral business will be generated from me.

And that’s a missed opportunity if I ever saw one.