Where NPS Creates ‘Disloyal Bonding’ and Damages your Brand and Profitability

By Bob Morrell on October 22, 2020

NPS or Net Promoter Score is that survey you are given at the end of a transaction – either face to face, on the phone or online. They ask you to score the service out of 10.  A 9 or a 10 means you are an advocate for that experience and would talk about it positively to friends and family, an 8 means you’re neutral about the experience and as you go down the numbers you become a detractor – someone who would actively talk down the brand.  Nobody explains this to the customer of course, so their score is supposed to be their honest opinion.  It is a measure that most major brands use to improve their customer service and by and large it works as a measure.  It is another target and if we can persuade enough customers that our service is good then we can boast about a high NPS score.

The danger is in retention calls. If I call my insurance company and complain about the price of my car insurance renewal they say ‘Okay, sorry about that, here’s a discounted premium.’  So, I get what I want.  A lower price.  I would rate that highly on NPS even if the service was brief, and perfunctory, and not that good.  The person who serves me may also say ‘the system won’t let me change it’ or ‘let me check with my manager to get a better price’ and these are forms of lying to customers.  So what they’re saying is ‘We were taking a liberty with that renewal letter and you’ve caught us out –and rather than defend that premium, which was calculated with some degree of accuracy, I admit we were taking a liberty and drop the price’.  So, they are actually exposing themselves as, in some way, misleading, and the advisor taking the call is agreeing with that in a way that is disloyal to their employer, and in a way that, they hope, will make them bond, briefly with the customer.  So, brands that actually score highly on NPS could be using behaviours like this, and yet we think they’re amazing.

Some companies use a blatant NPS push at the end of the call – ‘You’ll be sent a survey and if you could score me 9 or 10 I’d really appreciate it’, or worse, ‘so I won’t get I trouble with my boss’.  In what way is this a genuine reflection of the customer’s opinion?

On all calls, your people should be prepared to defend and be ambassadors for their brand. Even if it means losing a customer. Integrity is really important, especially right now, and brands that claim a high NPS should be challenged to prove that their score was arrived at fairly, or if they used disloyal bonding to score so highly.