NPS is not the De facto Metric for Telecomm Customer Satisfaction

Perhaps my favorite thing about reading blogs is that I can have a dialog with the author and fellow readers. Friendly debates or spontaneous collaborations are a lot of fun.

But when comments I share that are “pending moderator review” never appear, it really annoys me.

About 10 days ago, I read an interesting article on TMCnet—a site that I like for technology-related topics. But it just so happened that this article had some important omissions. So I posted a thoughtful reply. Nothing incendiary. Nothing rude. Just a friendly sharing of information with the author and fellow readers.

It never appeared.

After a week, I emailed the editor. Still nothing.

The original article recommends NPS (Net Promoter Score) as the optimal standard for customer satisfaction with telecommunications providers. Ummm, no. So since I didn’t get to share on the TMCnet site, let me share some information here for those of you interested in measuring customer satisfaction in the telecommunications space.

  • “There are many scenarios in which customers may be satisfied with certain service levels or offerings yet refrain from recommending or referring the larger offering to their friends.” Yes, this is very true.
  • “…customer referrals – should be the ultimate measure of customer satisfaction and should be cultivated to the greatest extent possible.” Not necessarily.

In telecommunications, willingness to refer is not always the best metric. Having done over a hundred research studies on telecomm topics over the past 20+ years, I know that other items can be more relevant. For example, two items that are very important in the telecomm space:

  1. Willingness to renew (vs. propensity to brand switch). For some service providers, lack of brand loyalty is a huge challenge. And cost of customer acquisition can be quite high. So for them, the most useful metric can be renewal intent.
  2. Interest in “add-ons” (incremental features/services that would increase $/customer). Again, because the cost of customer acquisition can be high in telecomm, some service providers focus not only on retention but on extensions; how can we sell more to the existing customer base? That’s why in telecomm you often hear people talk about raising ARPU (average revenue per user). And customers’ willingness to buy more says a lot (like how well the proposed add-ons align with their interests, and how far the brand has permission to extend).

Yes, NPS is a wonderfully efficient approach to measuring customer loyalty. But it isn’t the only one. Customer satisfaction and loyalty research is not a one-size-fits all proposition. Telecomm providers need to take the time to identify the best metrics for their research to be truly useful.

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