Why buying NPS benchmarks is a bad idea

How does our Net Promoter Score compare to the scores of our competitors? It seems like a natural question. Why shouldn’t we benchmark our NPS against others? Because it’s not about the number! 

It’s about using an NPS system to improve your own internal processes and become a more customer centric organization.

It’s best not to compare scores

Why? There are just too many elements that influence scores to compare them realistically.

To start with, survey design and methodology affect NPS scores strongly. Let’s say you put the NPS question at the beginning of the survey. There’s a strong chance the result will be different from a Net Promoter Score measured in the middle of a survey. Same thing for the distribution channel. Surveys conducted online or by phone can have totally different outcomes. If you don’t use the same channel or questionnaire design as your competitors, comparing scores is useless.

Even the wording of the NPS question will affect results. “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” and “If asked, how likely would you recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” may seem like the same question, but the ‘if asked’ will change the score.

Another influencing element is timing. NPS scores can differ significantly depending on the season, hour of the day, day of the week, etc. Also, global events with large impact, such as the election of Trump in 2016, affect people’s mindsets. That’s why Net Promoter Scores scores measured before and after these events can be entirely different.

On top of that that, we need to keep in mind the cultural differences. We see that Americans tend to give higher scores than Dutch people for example. That’s why European companies often have more neutral NPS scores in comparison to American companies.

I think you are getting the point: getting a valid external benchmark is very difficult. Therefore, many of the websites with NPS benchmarks are not reliable. The few trustworthy ones are very expensive. Your money can better be spent on your own NPS program. That’s what it’s all about!

So, what should you be doing then?

We advise you not to worry about industry NPS benchmarks at first. Start measuring NPS and use your score as a benchmark and base. Setting up a consistent feedback methodology and measuring your own improvement is more important than the score itself. We refer to it as “the 4 stages of NPS”.

Minify what you are doing wrong. Amplify what you are doing right.


Most valuable is why that is for each group, so you should track the issues that are making detractors upset and work on them. Also, find the things that promoters love and try to duplicate them with as many customers as possible. Take action and repeat, but don’t ask everyone at once. Spread it out and ask a small panel once a month. This way you shorten the cycle between measurement and action, and back to measurement again.

net promoter score program

Set up this efficient NPS system and watch your score go up. It serves as an improvement program that can be used across your organization, because Net Promoter Score is a simple number for everyone to follow. So get everyone in your organization on board and primarily focus on your own score to create a mature customer centric culture.

Considering NPS benchmarks? Do it right!

When your NPS system with follow-up is up and running for some time – let’s say a year – you can start thinking about benchmarking your score. The best approach is to set up your own industry benchmark research using a non-branded survey that gauges all important players in your work field. Survey a neutral respondent panel, let them select their company from a list with you and your competitors and ask the NPS questions. This way the survey design, timing and methodology are the same for all benchmark scores. It’s best to calculate this industry benchmark once per year to track your position within the group.

CheckMarket can facilitate setting up this kind of project. We can provide the respondent panel and the reporting. Interested? Let us know!

Want to get started with your own NPS program? Try our tool for free.

Are you benchmarking NPS scores? Or got an opinion about them? Let us know in the comments!

Net Promoter and NPS are registered service marks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.

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