How to pervert the NPS system

A few months ago I was interested to notice my bank teller had a notice at her station describing the typical Likert scale used for NPS responses. It shows promoters as “in the green” with smiley faces and the description “I would recommend you” passives as yellow and detractors as red, sad faces and the description “I would never recommend you”.

Highlighted beneath is the statement that their expectation is the teller will provide you with “10 out of 10 service” (subliminal perhaps?).


I was thinking about how this might influence consumers, and the impact this would have on the whole NPS statistical model. Potentially, consumers might feel they were placing themselves in the red, bad group by responding as a detractor. I don’t think people like to be thought of as either “passives” or “detractors”. I am sure Fred Reichheld used these labels in a “statistical” manner, never intending the respondents to be thus labeled individually. The primary point of the NPS referential question (“Would you recommend us?”) is to judge the subject of the survey, NOT the respondent!

So I was at my local bank branch again today, and they’ve change the notices. They are even MORE likely to influence the outcome of an NPS survey now! They have removed the passive category altogether. A 9 or 10 is a good response, while ANYTHING else (1-8) is considered “Not GOOD Service”. They are CLEARLY attempting to influence passive respondents up to promoters.


What do you think?

Guy Elliott, Head of Product Management at GSN

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