The Problem with NPS (Or do I Look Fat in This?)

I am 45.

They say that when middle-age is upon us our broad minds and narrow waists swap sizes.

It is happening to me, (certainly around my waist, and as I no longer enjoy finding strangers in my kitchen first thing in the morning, probably my mind as well).

I need to lose some weight and I have been taken in more than once.

I have been seduced by all the diets:

  • The Caveman Diet: fast 2 days a week (Neanderthal never man had it that good)
  • The Atkins Diet: no carbohydrates plenty of bacon (no energy and bad skin)
  • The Alkaline Diet: lots of fruit and veg, no sweet fizzy drinks (go figure)
  • The Cabbage Diet: eat cabbage soup for a week (you’ll smell dreadful)

Unfortunately, there is only one solution to the “muffin top” and that is to lay off the chips and drag your sorry arse into the gym.  You know that, I know that, we all know that.  We just don’t happen to like it much.

Which is why I am always bang-up for trying the latest diet fad, in the vain hope that it will somehow, miraculously resolve my middle-aged spread.

The same fascination with fads is found in business

We love a quick fix, regardless of the situation.  Take our customers for example.  We all know we should wow them with excellent service and in our efforts to find out how, we have all been seduced by:

  • Voice of the Customer – listening to what they say
  • Customer Satisfaction – understanding if they are satisfied
  • Customer Effort – finding out how difficult we make it
  • Net Promoter Score – worrying if they will they recommend us

Unfortunately, there is only one way to prevent unhappy customers and that is to stop doing the stupid things that upset them.

You know what they are, they know what they are, even I could hazard an educated guess, and I don’t even work with you.

The next measurement fad won’t change that

All it will do is tell us about exactly the same things all over again and, let’s be honest, we won’t be totally surprised.

We just won’t like the answers much.

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fat man

Read another opinion

Image by keithloaf1961


  1. Hello James,
    Excellent. This post has a certain beauty to it, a zen like quality to it. Put differently, it occurs to me that you speak truth.


  2. Great picture… time to hit the gym. James, you always speak words that need to be said. You’re absolutely right… no fad, no metric, no newfangled gadget will improve the customer experience any better than simply ceasing to do the stupid things and starting to do the right things.

    Seriously, get your arse to the gym. Thirty years from now, your family will thank you for it.


  3. Nice of you to post my pic with this article

  4. Steve Cohn says:

    Great piece. I wrote a book called “it’s Not Rocket Service” which generally says the same thing – you know what good service is, you know what bad service is, so why are you doing the things you know to be bad? In fact, in my classes, I often ask the class to volunteer all the things they hate about dealing with businesses on the phone. After I list their answers on a flip chart, we go through them and then I say, “you see these things we listed.? Don’t do those things!” I really enjoyed reading a kindred spirit.

  5. James,

    Before we even go thinking about bothering someone else for their opinion, trust your own opinion and do what you know to be right first.

    I like it.

    How does that fir with Druckers idea of “What gets measured, gets managed”?


  6. NPS is a funny one because it’s a useful measurement & a fad.

    The measurement part is useful. To use your diet and exercise analogy, if you wanted to lose some weight you’d probably weigh yourself periodically to measure your progress. You’d probably also monitor your diet and keep track of trips to the gym. Those measurements are helpful because they’ll tell you if you are on the right track or not. The same is true in customer service — we need to measure how we’re doing so we can make adjustments along the way. (Bonus points – people naturally respond to a scoreboard.)

    The fad part isn’t useful. Back to your diet and exercise analogy, that’s the quick and magical fix we’re all looking for. In customer service, thinking that one simple score will forever improve service is just as delusional.

  7. Ray Harrison says:

    I’ve worked for the last 26 years in senior Learning & Development roles in some of the big UK Financial Services businesses and not sure whether it’s just bad timing or ignorance on the part of the companies I’ve worked for however I only got full exposure to NPS in the last 18 months. I have to say that as the leader of a support function that, like many others, is under the budgetary microscope NPS has provided my function and I with the ability to express the value we add in a language that our internal customers can relate to – being able to show a 20 point shift in post induction NPS scores is a revelation and when we take it to the next level of translating it to an increase in FPOC,a decrease in the number of complaints, a reduction in call volumes, a reduction in early attrition etc then it’s amazing how joined up we are and how much easier it is to obtain financial support for the work that we do

    • James Lawther says:

      Thanks for your comment Ray, I’m glad it is driving action for you. I suppose my real question is why did your organisation have to wait for NPS? But I guess all businesses are different.



  1. […] James Lawther tem uma solução prática para satisfazer clientes, ele diz que: “só tem uma maneira de evitar clientes insatisfeitos, é só parar de fazer coisas estúpidas que deixam eles irritados”. Pensando na ótica de cliente, você provavelmente vai identificar várias coisas estúpidas que anda fazendo (inclusive, é uma cultura que estamos trabalhando continuamente por aqui). […]

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