To Know Why, Do More Than Net Promoter Score

I was talking with a former client, catching up on our respective recent experiences, family, etc. Everything was good! When all of a sudden the topic turned to Net Promoter Score (NPS).

Ah – NPS. So ubiquitous. Yet, so misunderstood!

Don’t get me wrong. NPS is simple to implement and also simple for users to provide feedback on their experience. “How likely are you to recommend this app (or tool or feature, etc) to friends or colleagues?” or some such. Answer 0 to 10 and that’s it!

For brand loyalty and the like, NPS is a valid measure. It is far more useful and accurate than traditional brand awareness surveys. But if your organization is using NPS as a value delivery or customer satisfaction measurement for Agile transformation, then it’s meaning has limits.

For example, if your app has an increasing NPS, then you must be doing something right. Right? Well, maybe and maybe not!

The problem is that NPS is in marketing terms a “what”. That means it’s a number that lacks intrinsic meaning. It may be simple to implement but it’s results are also simple. It means you don’t know “why” the user answered the way they did. “Why” is the reason for the things that we do. “Why”, in Agile, tells us what we should pay attention to and what we may want to learn.

So back to my friend. They had two years of increasing NPS on their associate and customer apps and had thought of NPS as user satisfaction confirmation of their agile efforts. So far, so good. But in the last year, despite a continuing range of agile teams improvements (velocity, lower Work in Progress, etc.), confirmed by business measures (lower TCO, higher ROI), their NPS across most of the apps had stagnated. What was happening?

If NPS is all you have, I believe you’ll never know. One has to ask more targeted questions.

Of course, you can create active user feedback groups without using any instrumentation. That is another way that interactively, one can gain an understanding of the issues behind the apparent NPS. But instrumenting is the way many are moving to deepen the user experience data pool and gain better understanding of the “whys” of user behavior.

If the app is instrumented, then you can know if a user has been using the feature you just released. That’s the time to ask about that feature.

If a user’s NPS is changing, you need to know why! So targeted questions and collecting lots of user interaction data is what is needed to provide the why to explain changes in user satisfaction.

Yes, I hear you saying, adding all of that instrumentation and diving on issues is no longer simple! Yes, indeed. But to know why your customers are acting as they do, you’ll have to go beyond Net Promoter Score!

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