Sales Essentials Blog

Is a Net Promoter Score a valid predictor of customer loyalty?

Posted by:

In your business travels you may have heard of the acronym NPS. It stands for Net Promoter Score.

Developed by Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company and Satmetrix in 2003, NPS is a management tool designed to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships. It serves as an alternative to traditional customer satisfaction research and claims to be correlated with revenue growth. In short, it is a single question measure that asks customers to rate their intention of referring a business on to others. The rating scale is 0-10.

Clients who give scores of 9/10 or 10/10 are regarded as being ‘Promoters’.

Clients who give scores between 0-6 are regarded as being ‘Detractors’.

Forget about 7-8/10 apparently they don’t matter as much as they are labelled ‘Passives’.

The overall intention of the NPS score is to rate customer loyalty to a brand or company.

To get an overall NPS for your company or division or department it works something like this:

Your business looks at all the Net Promoter scores you get over a period of time and then subtracts the total Detractor scores from the Promoter scores. The overall NPS scale ranges from -100NPS to +100NPS. You are, of course wanting a positive score. Anything over 0 is moving in the right direction in terms of customers referring you on to others. Anything in the negative zone is deemed problematic.

NPS is an interesting concept that has been all the rage for some time now, especially with larger businesses, who apparently ‘live and die’ by their NPS score ratings according to the management consulting guru Zeitgeist.

Having an NPS score is one thing. Doing something meaningful about it is another.

How valid is the NPS score?

Researchers and other assessment developers have concerns about the NPS because it uses scales with *low predictive validity, meaning it doesn’t really measure causal connections to customer loyalty.

In market and behavioural research a single item question is much less reliable and more volatile than a composite index.

Hayes (2008) claimed there was no scientific evidence that the “likelihood to recommend” question is a better predictor of business growth than other customer-loyalty questions (e.g. overall satisfaction, likelihood to purchase again). Specifically, Hayes stated that the “likelihood to recommend” question does not measure anything different from other conventional loyalty-related questions.

But in reality, even if someone is “likely to recommend” a service or a business, “will they recommend it?”; will they do something with this positive sentiment or are they just answering a question posed to them?

Whatever you make of the NPS, one thing is for sure – it raises the awareness of people to examine if their business, their sales approach, their service levels and delivery of what they promise is ‘recommendable’ at all.

Start by asking yourself ‘Would you recommend your own business to others?’ And if so ‘Why?’ or if not ‘Why not?”.

Regardless of whether you use NPS or not, being recommended is powerful and referrals are a great source of new business opportunities we cannot do without.

To give people a more decisive way to recommend you, set up a referral system that shows people how to refer business your way. Make it easy and clean.

*In general, validity refers to how well a test or assessment actually measures what it intends to measure. … Conversely, a weak correlation between the assessment data and the target behaviour indicates low levels of predictive validity.


Author: Sue Barrett, 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No links/urls/http allowed in comment section. They are a security risk, comments containing them will simply be discarded! You may use these HTML tags and attributes:<abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

To prove you are human, enter the AntiSpam Text shown in the image into the input field
Click to hear an audio file of the anti-spam word
Fill in text as seen in the image *