I have a new rule of life. If I decide to complete a customer satisfaction survey I will bail out at any point there is a Net Promoter Score (NPS) question. NPS, if you aren’t aware, is a magic number. By tracking NPS you can excel at customer service; at least that’s how the story goes.

An NPS question is quite simple: on a scale of 0 (no chance) to 10 (I absolutely do) how likely are you to recommend the service provider to someone else? Tracking that score leads to magical things. This is of course utter bobbins.

Even at the time when NPS was first identified, it would be possible to be somewhat sceptical of single metrics that could be so powerful. But an industry built up around it and nurtured it and today you’ll frequently see the NPS question front and centre of any customer satisfaction survey.

Today, though, 13 years after NPS was first introduced to the world, the very nature of recommendation has changed. There are entire industries devoted to allow people to give and share recommendations, from TripAdvisor to Check-A-Trade. Giving recommendation these days has become friction-less experience. Moreover, look at the recommendations that people actual give. If recommendations were well spread, surely ratings on things like Amazon would be more, well, average. But things are never a “3”. (As an aside, someone once gave one of these blog articles a 3 out of 5. I still count that as one of the most passive-aggressive acts in internet history).

The thing is that we do give recommendations on things we like, and anti-recommendations to those that we don’t. But it’s really hard to give motivate someone to give you a “meh”.

So with over-surveying, more opportunities to recommend changing the very nature of the concept, and my innate feeling that one magic number is probably BS, it’s time to call time on NPS.

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