Why Advocates are more realistic than Promoters
February 14, 2017 in Uncategorized
Fred Reicheld's popular Net Promoter (R) Score has been an excellent tool to regain a crucial focus on customer relationships. Its simplicity has garnered top level 'promotion' in organisations, and in many cases it has pushed customers to the top of the organisational agenda, to sit alongside profit as a focus for discussion and decision making.
In mobilising the necessary attention, NPS is great. But in technical terms, it has its problems. While it claims to be statistically based, there is evidence that this perspective is flawed. And there are a number of stories of sales people actively asking their customers to make sure they rate them as a '9' because an '8' just doesn't count - which is a real temptation for those who have worked hard to make their customers happy and fear that they won't get recognised unless they properly calibrate their customer's interpretation of the scale and its consequences.
Furthermore, how do you feel when you come across a 'Promoter'? Personally, I prefer my advice to come from someone a bit less one-dimensional - someone who has a more objective and balanced perspective of things. I am somewhat suspicious of someone who recommends one solution irrespective of the topic and my circumstances - and I am more likely to trust someone who will caveat their praise. In short, in seeking inputs to help inform my decision, the level of trust I place on the information I receive is based as much on 'who' is saying it, as 'what' is said.
In reality, we are unlikely to simply promote a business for all products and services, at all times, in all circumstances, and if we did, our listeners would be rightly suspicious of either our motives or our judgement. We are more likely to talk about specific aspects of that businesses approach which we found remarkable, and which we have a story around. In short we will tend to advocate it for its specific strengths and positive experiences, and in so doing we create much more vibrant impressions in those who are listening.
Asked how likely I will be to recommend a business to my friends, my response is almost certainly 'it depends' - because frankly it always should 'depend' - I owe my friends at least that much! Asked whether I am likely to talk positively (to 'ad - vocate') about a specific experience and I can be much more definitive about my answer.
And this idea of advocacy provides much better input to the business as well. By knowing what I am likely to advocate, and what I am more likely to critique, the business has a much better idea of what aspects of the customer experience provide opportunities for improvement.
With that in mind, I would like to propose the idea of a Net Advocacy Score. A score which is about better understanding our strengths and our opportunities for improvement. A score which is about learning and advancing our abilities rather than one which seeks to proclaim them.
The NPS(R) has been great in getting a vitally important concept onto the business agenda. It has raised the flag, but to keep the flag high we need the next level of sophistication, a number which can better move our learning from aspiration to application.