THOUGHT PIECE: On Net Promoter Score – and how best to assess the customer journey

When you want to assess different aspects of a customer journey it can be tricky to decide on what measures to use. Obviously you want to keep your survey short, but there are so many useful metrics out there!


Should my focus be on task completion? How do I break this out by missions? What’s all this I’m hearing about customer effort? How about ease of use? And what about overall satisfaction?

It is easy to get lost in the detail and even easier to convince yourself that every measure is important. This isn’t the case though. Each metric has its strengths and weaknesses, meaning that the solution that works for you will be as unique as the journey you are trying to measure!

What you need to understand is how the metrics work:

  • What are they really measuring?
  • At which stage in the customer journey should they be deployed?

So to start your thinking on tracking measures, and to help you decide which ones are for you, I am going to pull apart two of the most commonly discussed and commonly used measures out there; Satisfaction and Brand Advocacy (aka Net Promoter Score® or NPS®). The aim here is to provide you with a deeper understanding of how these measures work and how you might apply these and other measures to your journey tracking.

“Satisfaction Versus NPS®” or “Satisfaction and NPS®


Satisfaction and NPS® are old timers as far as tracking measures go. They are simple to calculate and they are great for benchmarking, but there is often confusion about what they are actually measuring and whether what they measure is actually different.

NPS pic

The problem is that on the face of it Satisfaction and NPS® look very similar. They use similar scales and to an extent, sound similar in their question wording. However, they have very different intended purposes.

Satisfaction measures are great for focusing on customer feelings around getting the job done. In other words, they help to monitor the basics. You can use multiple satisfaction measures at different points along a journey to get granular detail on which specific elements of your business are performing well e.g. How satisfied are you with this help you received? Why is that?

This makes satisfaction great for fine-tuning elements of a customer journey but you will often find that if you try to ask satisfaction at an overall level, your trended score over the months will remain quite flat compared to other measures. This is because when you ask a customer to rate an entire experience there are so many factors to weigh up and so many different reasons as to why they might have interacted with you in the first place.

NPS® can help to simplify this by taking the focus off of evaluating an entire experience and instead bringing the focus back onto the overall brand. It can therefore be thought of as “the bigger picture”. The measure aims to push past the basics of functionality onto the overall feeling that the customer is left with after they have completed their interaction with one of your touchpoints. As the wording of the measure suggests, it is all about the long term relationship with your brand and whether their interactions, at an overall level, deliver a positive experience that encourages them to think and speak well of your brand.

Whereas Satisfaction works well for fine tuning, NPS® tends to fall down if you attempt to use it on too granular a level. In theory it would be great to understand how each customer touchpoint affects brand perceptions and recommendations. However brand perceptions don’t really work like that. If you measure NPS® right as a customer struggles to get help from you, you are going to get a low score. Five minutes later when they have found help and completely solved their issue, they will give a high score. In this situation you have no idea what their true NPS® is, as the customer hasn’t had time to process everything into an overall perception. What you will have measured here is their satisfaction with different elements of the journey.

This all means that NPS® works best when asked once and asked at the right time, preferably at the end of (or sometime after) an interaction. It also means that NPS® can be effectively paired up with Satisfaction to allow you to dig into both the granular detail (with specific Satisfaction questions) and overall brand perception (using NPS®).

In Closing


Now of course this blog has only discussed two measures, and there are many more out there. Hopefully this bit of an explanation has got you thinking about the way you design your research and how the different available measures can be used for specific purposes, as well as being used together to help paint an overall picture of performance.

There is, of course, so much more that we could discuss about NPS® and Satisfaction, as well as other rating scales. So if this blog has got you thinking about how you want to set up your upcoming tracker project, feel free to give me a call and we can chat through how they might work for you.

Shaun Smith is an Associate Director in the Product team at Marketing Sciences Unlimited

Net Promoter and NPS are registered trademarks and Net Promoter Score is a trademark of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld





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Richard Snoxell
01962 842211
Article date - 14/10/2015
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