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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

Net Promoter Score - Demoted Intention Is Not the Same as Actual Behavior

For sixteen years the Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been a convenient way of gauging respondents view of companies and their offerings. However, the NPS substitutes simplicity for true insights, says Christina Stahlkopf of C Space. C Space, has developed a new method of gaining more meaningful customer feedback called the Earned Advocacy Score.

Calculating the Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Ask people, "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company or product or service?" The NPS equals the percentage of Promoters (score of 9 or 10) minus the percentage of Detractors (score of 0-6).

Stahlkopf equates the NPS with a compass that helps you navigate, but gives you limited helpful topographical information. Her critique of NPS is based on C Space"s extensive survey data:

  • Intention to recommend or discourage a purchase does not mean the person will act as intended. "Sixteen percent of consumers in a C Space survey were detractors, yet only 4% of all the respondents had actually told others to avoid a brand….[In fact], detractors were seven times more likely to have either recommended a brand or said nothing at all than to have disparaged it."
  • NPS uses an arbitrary classification system. People with scores of 9-10 are Promoters and 0-6 are Detractors. Those with scores of 7-8 are Passives and are ignored.
  • People can simultaneously be advocates and detractors. (e.g., I recently used Consumer Reports to compare tire brands. Some reviewers recommended Michelin tires for performance in bad weather but panned the tires for noisiness and poor wear.)
  • "Have you recommended this brand" is more meaningful than "Would you recommend this brand?"

"Earned Advocacy" - New Behavioral Method

Earned Advocacy Scores (EAS) are more meaningful because they are based on actual behavior. Moreover, the EAS approach examines the reasons behind a decision to recommend or criticize a brand or product.

Calculating the Earned Advocacy Score (EAS)

Ask people, "“Have you recommended ABC?" Also ask, "Have you discouraged someone from buying ABC?" The EAS is the percentage who have actually recommended ABC minus the percentage who have discouraged someone from purchasing ABC. Following up with open-ended questions will elicit the reasons that underlie the behavior.

While one should not base major decisions on a single number, calculating an Earned Advocacy Score will offer insights into how your company is doing, particularly if you follow up with open-ended questions that elicit reasons for having recommended or not recommended a brand. For example, "Why have you given a qualified recommendation for brand ABC?" "Why have you told someone not to purchase from XYZ?"

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Copyright © 11/19 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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