Monday, June 02, 2008

External vs. internal measurement

It’s a good external measurement. Does that make it a good internal measurement? A recent post, white paper and comment has me wondering.

I recently wrote about the possibility of using a kind of net promoter metric internally. Reader Mariana – bless her commenting heart! – wrote to say she was going to give it a try. I also think it has promise, and I want to try it too.

However, last week I read a great paper from the Corporate Executive Board that takes some air out of net promoter as a measure of consumer service and support. (The Corporate Executive Board is a terrific source of ideas. Be sure to ask if your company has a membership and get access to its resources.)

So, regarding consumer service and net promoter (NPS). The study first addresses loyalty. It maintains that promoters don’t necessarily stay, and detractors don’t necessarily leave. What does count in consumer service and support loyalty is how easy you make it for the consumer. Measure consumer effort instead of satisfaction or likelihood to recommend. It’s a better predictor of customer financial behavior.

The paper also says, concerning support, that "NPS® is an inadequate metric in the service channel for two reasons:

  • "The survey question is inherently positive, as it only considers likelihood to recommend (not criticize).
  • "It also captures company-level sentiment regarding product, pricing, and brand reputation, which limits its actionability within the contact center."

Now, do these issues mean NPS is not suited for internal use? I’d say no. It’s still a useful metric – a way to look at your net impact. It may have the added value of being familiar to your business-focused bosses. That makes it easier to communicate upward.

At the same time, it’s always good to be aware of any weaknesses in your metrics, and address them. Let’s make sure we measure the likelihood to criticize. And let’s make our net promoter questions specific enough to be actionable, vs. “would you recommend internal communications?”

Thanks to dogra on for the photo.