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“I just need to know that our NPS score is higher than the one of …”

This is real now, OK! No fake, no bold story, no exaggerated anecdote for creating attention. The following has been crazy reality, and I assume that I am not the only one who is exposed to similar thinking.

A key leader in one of the pharma companies I worked in so far once in a call openly said about CX metrics

“The only thing I need to know is that our NPS score is higher than the one of our main competitor


In full transparency, in the concrete situation I had been simply overcharged. In a weird mix of being surprised, being shocked and not trusting my ears. Those who know me a bit longer, also will know that this very rarely happens to me after working quite few years inside industry.

I had been professional enough to express deadpan with my outer face and hearing me say “OK … interesting!” But my inner expression had been … different. I hope it is OK to not disclose further details as language might not be appropriate and balanced enough for a public article.

You are confused what I am talking about and what the issue might be? OK, let me help you spotting the fallacy …

NPS is not enough

The statement above reveales a thinking that NPS would be the only important and relevant metric to be considered.

What a negligent mistake!

Yes, NPS is a key CX indicator. But it does not give you the full picture. Actually, it is focusing on a limited CX aspect only (relationship). And more mature organizations generally put NPS side-by-side with other CX metrics like CSAT (satisfaction). Plus, they closely map CX scores to business figures (e.g. sales data).

As a side note, I am observing for a while now that NPS seems to be gradually replaced by CSAT as lead indicator. Not saying that NPS would not matter anymore. It seems to lose emphasis in more CX mature organizations. But this is a different topic which might benefit from having a dedicated discussion.

CX scores are no performance KPIs

NPS is not focusing on your performance. Especially not your competitive performance. NPS is revealing customers’ perception of your relationship with them. About customers’ trust in you and about the evel of loyalty. And if they feel comfortable enough recommending you to others.

Yes, there is a proven relationship between e.g. high NPS scores and high market share. So NPS is a kind of a lead indicator for improved (or worsened) business outcomes. But …

Celebrating a score does not give you more business

OK, you have a high NPS. But so what? What are going to do with it? What are you learning from it?

Are you leaning back, feeling good, of how great you are, celebrating having a higher score than your competitor, having a cigar, …?

Guys, I am sorry to say, but a higher score is no CX outcome. Having more and better business is. CX is about taking action on scores and feedback who are providing guidance on the right direction, and enabling to constantly imrove. With that perspective, …

Higher might not be high enough

The assumption that “higher than competitor” = “high” = ‘doing well’ might be a dangerous misconception. If your competitor has an NPS score of 10 and yours is at 20. This sounds like that you would be double as good as your competitor.

But factually both scores, including yours, are low. As really great NPS scores start around 30. And a good reason for celebrating (if you still want to do it) might be more an NPS of 70< for your company. With the 20, yes you are better than your competitor, but … you are actually doing quite bad and your relationship with your customer seems not be the best.

What really matters is focusing on the customer, not the competitor (BTW, there is an older but still eye-opening interview with Jeff Bezos you need to watch!). You need to make your customers more happy not yourself. If you make your customers more satisfied, having more trust in you, enjoying being served you … this will automatically give you more business, more sales and a competitive advantage. Instead of wasting time by starring at industry benchmarks.

In a nutshell, having a score higher than your competitor is a non-information. It is useless. Focus on your customers. Focus on your your scores (NPS, CSAT, …) and what they do tell you and where you would like to be. You outperform your competitors by taking action on feedback and perceptions shared by your customers, and by getting better and better day by day.

The trend is the eye opener

Finally, the biggest mistake of all. Looking at the single figure of the day. What does a standalone NPS score value of XX tell you? It is nice to know (and easy to thoughtlessly celebrate). But is it significant?

Visualizing and following the trend is the real power of all CX metrics! An NPS score of 30 can be great if the trend goes upwards. And a NPS score of 70 can be bad if the trend goes downwards.

My personal recommendation. Ignore the figure of the day, but ensure having early consistent & continuous data an all metrics revealing trends.

At the end I would like to countervail a false impression that I wouldn’t enjoy celebrating successes. Believe me, I do! Very much. But I mostly enjoy celebrating real successes and not the fake ones, like this “my NPS score is higher than competitor’s” pitfall.


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