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Why NPS Doesn't Work and What You Should do About it.

Perhaps the most pervasive customer metric of the past two decades has been Net Promoter Score (NPS), a metric developed in 2003. The score is based on one simple question, “What is the likelihood that you would recommend Company X to a friend or colleague?” rated on a 0-10 scale. C-Suites worldwide were obsessed with the “too good to be true” simplicity of the survey and the potential of a single customer experience indicator. However, more and more companies have since discovered that NPS as a sole indicator of loyalty is not as helpful as many hoped. In fact, Gartner predicts that 75% of organizations will abandon NPS by 2025. 

Despite how easy the score is to administer (and how valid NPS may appear), the methodology has some profound flaws, and NPS’s efficiency far outweighs its effectiveness. Several studies reveal variations in NPS scores do NOT correlate with variations in sales performance. Nor are NPS scores predictive or prescriptive, meaning that as scores increase or decrease, brand leaders have zero insight into which behaviours affect performance. 


NPS’s efficiency far outweighs its effectiveness.


The Cost of Simplicity.

This lack of clarity has to do with how NPS categorizes responses, identifying 9 or 10 as Promoters, 7 or 8 as Passives, and everyone else as Detractors. There is a lot of room for interpretation (how does one perceive the difference between a 6 and a 7), and this interpretation can result in as much as 30% of insightful data being overlooked. The NPS scale fails to include any submission categorized as a Passive response, meaning all 7 and 8 submissions are ignored. Additionally, NPS does not explain why a customer would recommend a company, identify if a rating is based on a particular experience or overall relationship, or consider consumer demographics. It may suggest, but it does not tell, making it almost impossible to fit a complex network of data into a single number or lens.


Engagement is Key.

To help remedy these deficiencies, Cult co-created CustomerEQ (CEQ™), our proprietary engagement process leveraging the Apex research tool and proven Cult Brand Principles to aid business leaders in pursuing better insights to increase desired results. Rather than continuing to interrogate inferior business metrics providing lagging indicators (i.e. satisfaction, sales, traffic, CPA, etc.), we developed a means to find clues that inform future success. We have learned how to track the attitudinal expectations of both groups and uncover the subconscious triggers that will prompt them to solidify their feelings, attitudes, and beliefs, compel their purchasing behaviour, drive their loyalty, and inform their advocacy.

CEQ™ matches the simplicity of administering NPS in that our survey can be completed within seconds while revealing more. It artfully uncovers which of 16 hyper-relevant attitudinal and emotional-based factors must be enhanced to positively impact customer experience for the audience and, ultimately, business performance for the organization. Unfortunately, too many organizations continue to scratch at the surface of research data, taking answers at face value, focusing on intentional behaviours and rational facts. Conversely, CEQ™ probes deeper to uncover the subconscious, emotional instincts of consumers predisposed to a particular brand in the first place.


An engaged audience is a key indicator of the level of predictable and long-term success your brand will achieve.


For example, Cult recently completed a CEQ™ assessment for one of the leading healthcare providers in the United States. The findings allowed us to leverage proprietary research to identify deep insights into specific elements of how patients interact with the health care system and their awareness of the offerings and current in-market assets. In addition, the assessment provided our client with a core set of brand lenses based on audience desires that provided detailed guidance on how the brand should most appropriately show up.

We Put in the Time to Get it Right.

We have spent years developing a suite of data-driven, SAAS-based solutions with input from brand leaders, statisticians, behavioural scientists, and everyday consumers to ensure our approach is logical, practical, valuable, and actionable. It relies on proven statistical tools like regression modelling from the market research world and helps our clients transform abstract concepts such as a “prospect” or “customer” into fully-formed human beings while providing specific guidance our clients can take to build more meaningful relationships amongst key cohorts.  


Meaningful Data = Long-Term Results.

Studying, measuring and affecting audience engagement can be the most important decision your company or organization can make, as an engaged audience is a key indicator of the level of predictable and long-term success your brand will achieve. The sooner you get a handle on audience engagement, the more solidly you build the footings for success with every other measure you hold important.


Start seeing your brand through the eyes of your customer. Contact us to learn more about CEQ™ and the benefits it can offer your brand.


Further Reading
The CULT of Customer Experience
FIX: A new prescription to cure disengaged customers, prospects or staff
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