Customer advocacy metrics: the NPS theory in practice

Justin Kirby and Alain Samson

One of the most talked-about customer loyalty metrics of recent years, the Net Promoter® Score (NPS), has come under fire from researchers and practitioners who challenge its claim to be 'all you need to know' to predict business growth. It is easy to see why business managers were drawn to this one-question metric. First, there was the basic belief that customer focus is good and profits at your customers' expense are bad. When the NPS was introduced a few years ago (1), it provided scientific backing for this philosophy. What is more, in a world of increasing complexity it is reassuring to see that less is sometimes more. Or that one question, which also happens to make intuitive sense, can help us predict business performance.

The NPS is akin to the thin-slicing described in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink – another sign of a desire for a shift from complexity to simplicity and from reflectivity to reflexivity.