Ever since Fred Reichheld’s “The One Number You Need to Grow,” Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become an enormously important measure of customer sentiment.
But how useful is NPS — or how useful is it likely to remain — if and when score inflation or deflation occur?
The use of NPS and ‘likelihood to recommend’ questions has been extended to measure employee sentiment of internal enterprise applications, websites, services, and even employee engagement. However, the more it’s used and the greater the understanding of the calculation by survey respondents, the more score inflation and deflation we see.
The findings of this case study, based on the results of three successive independent internal studies in a large global enterprise, have serious implications for the wider use of NPS not only within an enterprise, but also for benchmarking and trending in the marketplace overall.
- Increasing familiarity with Likelihood to Recommend questions and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) calculation is influencing some survey respondents to deliberately inflate their scores by selecting ‘9’ and ‘10’ at the top end of the NPS scale. This score inflation may be diluting the predictive power of NPS.
- Another respondent cohort included in the case study involves those self-reporting that their understanding the NPS calculation does not influence how they answer likelihood to recommend questions. These give lower ratings than the study’s control group respondents who are not familiar with NPS. This effect is particularly apparent when respondents rate items they are less likely to recommend, in turn leading to score deflation.
- Countries where cultural dimensions research has previously indicated the presence of extreme response styles when taking surveys are also more likely to be influenced by their understanding of the NPS calculation.