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Benchmarking Net Promoter

I would absolutely love you to deliver totally-average service. I’m looking forward to being able to rate you a solid 6 or 7 out of 10. – Said no customer, ever.

And that, in a nutshell, is why NPS benchmarks are a waste of your time. The thing that drives your company forward, paying your bills, is your customers, not your competitors.

Your customers don’t care if you have an NPS of 40, and a competitor has an NPS of 45… The standard they want you to aim for is 100.

If you can match your competitor’s NPS next quarter, what happens next? You obviously won’t suddenly stop striving to delight your customers, so what have you gained from knowing you’re at-least-as-bad as a competitor?

But isn’t the ‘benchmark survey’ one of the three types of NPS survey?

You’re absolutely right.

The official NPS site describes three types of survey:

  • Experience: Also known as ‘transactional’ surveys. Sent after a customer interaction, this is the most useful type of NPS survey.
  • Relationship: Sampling groups of customers and sending them a periodical survey about their overall view of your company.
  • Competitive Benchmark: Asking both your customers, and your competitor’s customers what they think of you.

It might sound a bit presumptuous for us to say that one of the three types of NPS survey are completely worthless, so let’s dig a little deeper to understand what’s going on here.

An excellent article from Bain, the developers of NPS sheds a lot of light on this with a single quote:

Competitive benchmark surveys are a form of traditional market research.


We haven’t got an issue with market research – it’s absolutely vital for businesses to understand the market they operate in. And there are some fantastic market research firms who provide thorough, accurate research which you can use to understand your strengths and weaknesses relative to your competitors.

But market research and customer satisfaction surveys are like sugar and salt – both essential in your kitchen, but not something you want to mix up, if you want your guests to return for a second serving of cake.

So NPS Benchmarking is OK?

Arguably, yes. Market research is certainly a good thing to do, and if you’re running your business on NPS, so you want to do your market research in the form of an NPS benchmarking survey, then great!

But pragmatic customer contact teams use surveys to get feedback on the service they’re delivering and put things right when they fall short, because they understand their role is to delight customers.

Market Research isn’t part of the day-to-day routine for customer contact teams. Which means that NPS Benchmarking shouldn’t be, either.

Don’t use any customer satisfaction benchmark other than “100% satisfaction”, because that’s what your customers want. If you hold yourself to a lower standard, that’s the standard you’ll hit.

Understood. Is any sort of benchmarking OK?

By all means, benchmark things which impact the customer experience:

  • Call waiting times
  • Delivery times
  • First contact resolution
  • And so on…

If it’s important to your customers, and you can measure it against your competitors and improve it, then there’s no harm in benchmarking it. But keep satisfaction benchmarks well away from your front-line teams.

Read more:

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