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Net Promoter Score Should Not Be The Only Measure

The conclusions reached in the following article (that using Net Promoter Score alone is not sufficient to measure customer loyalty) is shared in October 2016 working paper The Fallacy of the Net Promoter Score: Customer Loyalty Predictive Model by University of Cambridge www.cambridgeservicealliance.org.

It is important for cooperatives and credit unions to use multiple sources including big recent purchase analysis, and comment analysis and social media comments.

See more posts at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinlytle

5 NPS Myths and How to Overcome Them


Bob Hayes

I first heard of the Net Promoter Score from Fred Reichheld, one of its co-developers, in a talk he gave at a vendor conference. When he stated that “the NPS is the best predictor of business growth,” my interest was piqued. Why? I have never found evidence in my 20+ years of experience to support that statement. Since his talk and the release of his book on the same topic, I have conducted many studies to examine the merits of the NPS claims. Additionally, other researchers, from both industry and academia, have conducted research on the NPS. Our basic conclusions: the NPS claims are not true and there are a lot of problems with their research claims.

My research addressed several issues surrounding the NPS claims, not just the original claim. Based on mine and others’ research, I present my list of 5 NPS myths. Additionally, I present evidence that debunks each myth as well as what you can do to improve how you measure customer loyalty. You’ll see that the NPS is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

5 NPS Myths

Myth 1: NPS is the best predictor of growth

Fact: The NPS is not the best predictor of growth. Keiningham et al. (2007), looking at the personal computer industry, found that satisfaction is just as good as the NPS at predicting growth. They also found the same pattern of results in other industries (e.g., insurance, airline, ISP). In all cases, satisfaction and NPS were comparable in predicting growth.

What you can do: Use other loyalty questions. The use of the other two common loyalty questions, “Overall sat” and “Buy again,” result in the same conclusions as when you use the NPS.

Myth 2: Net scores are easy to understand

Fact: Net scores are ambiguous; You can arrive at the same NPS score using different Promoter and Detractor scores. Net score creates a metric on an entirely new scale (from -100 to 100) that is different from the original customer rating (0 to 10). Additionally, CX professionals exhibit bias when interpreting summary metrics. Also, the segments used to calculate the NPS are arbitrary. Specifically, while the NPS formally defines Promoters as customers who gave ratings of either 9 or 10, we found that Promoters could also include respondents who gave a rating of 8, 9 or 10.

What you can do: Use mean or top-box scores as summary metrics instead of net scores. The use of the mean keeps the group metric on the same scale of measurement as the original ratings (0 to 10). Train your employee on statistics and statistical thinking (long-term).

Myth 3: The NPS is the only loyalty question you need in your survey

Fact: Customer loyalty is multidimensional; it is not a single thing and you simply can’t measure “loyalty” with a single question. There are really three different types of customer loyalty. The three types of loyalty are: Retention, Advocacy and Purchasing. In a nationwide study asking over 1000 customers about their current network operator, different loyalty questions were predictive of different types of objective business growth metrics:

  • Retention loyalty questions were the best predictor of future churn rate
  • Advocacy loyalty questions (including the recommend question) were a good predictor of new customer growth
  • Purchasing loyalty questions were the best predictor of Average Revenue per User (ARPU) growth

What you can do: Measure all types of customer loyalty that are relevant to your business. Consider the different ways your customers can contribute to the bottom line and ask about those types of loyalty behaviors. Here is a more comprehensive list of customer loyalty questions you can use in your next customer survey.

Myth 4: High correlation between NPS and customer experience (CX) illustrates importance of CX in driving recommendations

Fact: The correlation between NPS and CX is artificially inflated because both are measured using the same method (a survey asking for self-reports; both use similar rating scales). The true correlation between CX satisfaction and customer loyalty is much lower than what is indicated when self-reported metrics are used to measure both variables. As your loyalty metric becomes more objective (asking about number of people to whom you recommended, for example), the correlation between “recommendations” and CX decreases significantly.

What you can do: Use objective loyalty measures in your analysis. Integrate your disparate data silos (e.g., CX system, CRM, Mixpanel) to link objective loyalty metrics (e.g., number products purchased, amount spent) with CX metrics (satisfaction with product, service). When you analyze these data, the results will be a better reflection of reality.

Myth 5: The claim that “NPS is the best predictor of growth” is widely accepted by CX professionals

Fact: In a survey of CX professionals, Only 25% of CX professionals said they believe the claim that the NPS is the best predictor of growth. This finding is more remarkable for CX professionals from loyalty leading companies. Of CX professionals from loyalty leading companies, only 14% agree with the NPS claim. Of CX professionals from loyalty lagging companies, 42% agree.

What you can do: Share your concerns about the NPS (along with the supporting research) with your CEO and CMO. Sharing the alternatives of the NPS with them to help move your loyalty measurement program forward.


This post summarizes scientific evidence that debunks the popular beliefs about the NPS. I presented 5 popular beliefs about the NPS and show why those beliefs are not supported by evidence. The evidence shows that the NPS: 1) is not the best predictor of business growth, 2) is difficult to understand, 3) is insufficient in capturing all the components of customer loyalty, 4) inflates the importance of CX on loyalty and 5) is not widely accepted by most CX professionals. These myths are presented in Table 1.

Your job may require you to use the NPS. Your livelihood might depend on selling the NPS. If you want to keep using, supporting, loving the NPS, go ahead. I really don’t care what loyalty metric you choose to use. What I do care about is sharing evidence-based conclusions and helping companies optimize the use of their data. The quality of your customer analytics is only as good as the metrics you analyze. In this post, I shared the empirical evidence regarding the myths of the NPS and what you can do to overcome them.


Hayes, B. E. (2008). Net promoter score debate: The measurement and meaning of customer loyalty. Business Over Broadway.

Hayes, B. E. (2008). Customer feedback programs best practices: An empirical investigation. Business Over Broadway.

Keiningham, T. L., Cooil, B., Andreassen, T.W., & Aksoy, L. (2007). A longitudinal examination of net promoter and firm revenue growth. Journal of Marketing, 71 (July), 39-51.

Morgan, N.A. & Rego, L.L. (2006). The value of different customer satisfaction and loyalty metrics in predicting business performance. Marketing Science, 25(5), 426-439.

Netpromoter.com (2007). Homepage.

Reichheld, F. F. (2003). The One Number You Need to Grow. Harvard Business Review, 81 (December), 46-54.

Reichheld, F. F. (2006). The ultimate question: driving good profits and true growth. Harvard Business School Press. Boston.

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Cooperatives Should Lead Blockchain Technology

The following article by Chris Howard supports the concept that member-ownership is the cooperative/credit union primary point of differentiation.  I agree and hope blockchain and distributed ledgers help cooperatives demonstrate their difference from investor-owned entities.

The Existentialism Of Bitcoin, Blockchains, And Distributed Ledgers

Blockchain technology has the promise to introduce unprecedented control and security in the payments world, but do credit unions care, and should they?


I’ve been spending lots of time on the road recently at planning sessions, working group meetings, client visits, and conferences, and I’ve been hearing a lot of things from credit union leaders. One frequent question regards blockchain technology and — to be blunt about it —whether credit unions should really care.

Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to be a CEO-level question just yet. I’ve been hearing about it from IT folks, operations/payments people, and the occasional board member. And happily, most of them have moved beyond simplistic questions about bitcoin. This isn’t about some flighty, mysterious, crypto-currency beloved by speculators, techno-nerds, nefarious actors, and the tinfoil hat brigade, it’s about the future of data security and all that represents.

Let’s be clear, the technology that makes bitcoin possible through sufficiently secure shared ledgers can do the same for any other dataset, including all those that represent each of us to the world beyond our personal connections.

It’s relatively easy to see how that could mean quick, safe transactions off the long-established rails, but squint a little bit and you can even imagine that meaning a world where identity theft is no longer possible. Or — perish the thought — a world in which individuals rather than monolithic for-profit corporations own their own datasets AND can control access to them.

As risk arbiters and managers, it may be far-fetched to believe that credit unions might be interested in a world where their members rather than their institutions own risk management-related personal data, but from a cooperative standpoint, the picture is different. Our primary long-term competitive advantage – our singular competitive differentiator – is member-ownership.

We put a premium on building mutually beneficial long-term relationships with our members.  In a world where people, not companies, own the data, a trusted relationship with a company you own — like a credit union — becomes worth its weight in gold for the average person because they can’t reap the benefits of data ownership as individuals.

With that as background, questions about blockchain technology take on a different cant.  Suddenly, we are not just talking about a new payment rail or better cybersecurity, but the ability to redefine the relationship between a cooperative and its members.

I think this is what’s motivated a broad array of credit union thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and provocateurs to come together as CULedger to pursue the not-yet-fully-defined promise of blockchain; totally secure data, paired with the capacity to leverage it essentially risk-free, is unprecedented and cannot be ignored.

For the rest of us, this begs some important questions.

  • Is there a play for credit unions in the arena of personal identity self-management? (That’s the core argument of John Best and other first movers among the CULedger mafia.)
  • Even if not, do we need to be in this space to protect our interests, given the gazillions that megabanks are spending to build out this technology?
  • At its core, is this just another payment rail and, if so, can we count on rapid migration to open systems and white-label offerings?
  • Either way, is the credit union standard of “fast-following” (third-to-fourth tier adoption) going to be good enough this time?  (Or, asked another way, is this just another tool where our cooperative structure allows us to be laggards or is this a tool with the threat/promise to realign that norm?)

Personally, I don’t see the U.S. financial services industry and regulators allowing the emergence of an exclusive payment rail, but it’s reasonable to be concerned about the timing or cost of access to a new rail and the the potential of associated disadvantages.

Further, it’s fair to ask a couple of other questions regardless of whether we are considering immediate entry into the technology sweepstakes or preparation for the world after the technology is fully developed.

  • Does the unique nature of financial cooperatives create some imperatives for this type of solution that may not be accounted for if either technology or commercial development is left solely in the hands of for-profit enterprise?
  • Do the characteristics of this technology lend themselves to advantage(s) or differentiation(s) for credit unions from banks? If (potentially) so, does exploring or pursuing them require either developmental knowledge of the technology and/or early preparation which would suggest diving in now despite our analysis that it would not otherwise be critical?
  • Are there things the technology would permit that credit unions could benefit from that are not likely to be pursued by our bank competitors and, if so, would this warrant acting now?

I don’t have answers for these questions. But I’ll admit to being interested in a question that’s even more existential than any of them: How, as an industry/movement, do we address them?


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6 Ways to Engage More Members

  1. Pay and promote a patronage dividend – One of the best ways to remind your members they are owners and not simply customers is to pay an annual dividend based on member participation. The amount of the dividend per member is less important than the act. And make a big deal about the patronage dividend by sending a personal letter from the CEO and enclose a check to every member. In the letter remind them they own their credit union and cooperative and how unique that relationship is in today’s business world.
  2. Board term limits – regular turnover at the board level will increase member awareness about the value of democratic control in your credit union/cooperative. Plus your new board members will generate fresh ideas.
  3. Lead with your WHY – It is not WHAT you do that is important to people, it is WHY you do it that people care about. Your members will have strong, warm feelings about your credit union/cooperative when they understand your WHY. If you are not sure what I mean, click this url to view Simon Sinek’s TED Talk as he describes the decision-making process all people share.
  4. Educate staff about cooperatives – Every employee is a representative of your credit union and cooperative. They should be knowledgeable about the cooperative business model and why it is important to members and the local community.
  5. Change your web site home page – Place your Why on your web site home page. The first experience a visitor to your web site should have is a heartfelt story related to your Why.
  6. Adopt technology for governance – Make it as easy as possible for interested members to get involved in your credit union/cooperative. Post and email Board meeting notes and decisions to your members following every meeting. Make it easy to vote in board elections by using printed ballots, email replies, and mobile voting apps. Use a video conferencing service to record and archive your board meetings.

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10 Ideas That Create A Great Impression

10 Ideas That Will Create A Great First Impression On New Members

  1. Train your public contact staff on the broader cooperative movement and require completion of a test to prove that knowledge was transferred.
  1. Prepare 30-second answers to frequently asked questions; train all public contact staff on delivering them with enthusiasm.
  1. Document your member buying process for financial services and align your marketing messages accordingly.
  1. Provide members with information that includes how their membership translates into dollar savings.
  1. Tie member recruitment to local fund drive (as a member you help support this local cause).
  1. Provide new members with something tangible and symbolic at the time of joining such as the owner guide, membership card, coupons or a small gift.
  1. Provide an owner’s guide for new members. Include bylaws, financials, ownership information, organizational information, board member biographies. Recommend they keep it to refer to later.
  1. Follow up with a letter or phone call a week or so after joining to answer any questions and help them feel welcome.
  1. Hold new member orientation meetings and encourage attendance. Send a letter or postcard to invite. Give a gift to those who attend.
  1. At orientation, include your history, structure, tours, and history video or personal message from the ceo or board chair.

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