5 great reasons why IT teams should use Net Promoter

In case you’re not familiar with Net Promoter®, let’s start with a 1 minute introduction…

Net Promoter® is an open-source methodology used by 65% of the world’s top 200 companies to grow their businesses by increasing customer loyalty. At its heart is a metric called the Net Promoter Score (NPS®) that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services.

An NPS is calculated by asking customers a question along the lines of, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”. Based on their rating, a customer is categorised as a Detractor (when they give a rating of 6 or below), a Passive (7 or 8) or a Promoter (9 or 10).  The NPS is then calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. This results in a score ranging from -100 (all your customers think you’re rubbish) to +100 (all your customers think you’re the bee’s knees).

Net Promoter Score = % of Promoters - % of Detractors
Net Promoter Score = % of Promoters – % of Detractors

Two very valuable follow-up questions ask the customer why they gave that rating, and what the number one thing is that they’d like to see improved.

With me so far? Great. Net Promoter, as a system for driving service improvement, is often overlooked or rejected by IT teams because of the irrelevance of the “likely to recommend” question for an internal service provider. But that concern is easy to address by simply changing the wording of that question (a topic for another day!). With the question reworded, you’re free to enjoy the benefits that Net Promoter has to offer.

Here are the top five reasons that IT teams should adopt it:

  1. It is a globally proven service improvement methodology trusted by brands such as Apple, Google, Rackspace and Zappos. There are a mountain of case studies that show how effective it can be. Net Promoter has been around since 2006 and Google Trends shows that interest has been steadily growing ever since – it’s not going away anytime soon! If your organisation is already using Net Promoter, then using it for IT is a no-brainer. And if it’s not, then IT can lead the way. Your organisation probably won’t be far behind.
  2. Unlike traditional surveys for gathering customer feedback, a Net Promoter survey – with only three questions – is ridiculously quick and easy for customers to complete. Not only that but the third question (“What is the number one thing we could do to improve?”) is like having a service management consultant working for you for free. Forget process maturity assessments! If you’re serious about improving service and delivering value, everything you need to know is contained in your customers’ answers to that one question.
  3. The Net Promoter concept is simple to understand by staff at all levels.  The survey is simple, the calculation is simple and the behavioural change it requires is simple – focus on reducing the number of detractors.  And how do you do that? Just read the feedback given by your customers in answer to Questions 2 and 3 and all will be revealed.
  4. About 75% of IT teams do customer satisfaction surveys of one sort or another. They run the survey, calculate a metric and bury the results in a management report. But in all but a few cases, no improvement action is taken. This is where Net Promoter comes into its own. It includes some fantastic practices that help you turn customer feedback into prioritised actions that lead to improved customer satisfaction/loyalty.
  5. When you use a standard question, rating scale and calculation method you can benchmark yourselves against others using that same method. An NPS is standardised so you can compare your NPS to that of other IT teams. Hell, because brand and industry NPS scores are widely published, you can even compare yourself to other organisations such as Qantas, iiNet or the Commonwealth Bank.  One of our clients, who used Net Promoter to improve IT customer satisfaction by 25 points in just 6 months, had the rallying cry of “Let’s not be a Toyota, let’s be a BMW”, referring to the relative Net Promoter Scores of those brands.

If you’re not surveying your customers to understand how they perceive your performance, you should be. And if you’re not using Net Promoter to do it, you should be


Net Promoter, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered service marks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld

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