In 25 years of working with leaders and business to focus on customers... what I've often noticed is that the score is the end game. First it was garnering a great "satisfaction" score, then one for "loyalty," followed by "experience," and now Net Promoter.

The name of the game should be giving customers a memory and experience so great... that they'll want to repeat it. Yet, corporations in their quest to drive customer focus have attempted to improve customer experiences by attaching things people want to the attainment of a good score. It's the score that's tied to people's compensation and it's the score that determines if people get that bonus to pay for braces or that trip to Disneyland or college tuition. Pavlov himself couldn't have set up a better behavior modification system.

The sad news is that the behavior modified is how to get the customer to give a better score, not taking the data to heart to change the company.

Net Promoter can break through and drive the change... But ONLY if you break the cycle of what is classically done with the information you receive.

Any time business asks a customer how they're doing it should be for the purpose of doing something with that information. But that's just not happening today. Heck, companies are so exhausted and numbed from customer survey collection that just getting the report out is considered a great feat.

And that's where it lands—in a brick—that big 4-inch report of survey data lands at the feet of the people who are supposed to read the data, analyze it and understand how it relates to them, weep about it a bit and then go fix things for customers. But beyond the rigor of running surveys, there is not much rigor around doing anything with what's learned.

There is a frenzied optimism on the simplicity and potency of the new NetPromoter concept. But beware, if your end game is simply pushing for the greatest NetPromoter score—know that at the end of the day this may just be the latest of your corporations' customer scoreboards. As with any customer feedback system, it's what you do with the information that's key.

  • What will you do when a customer won't recommend you? Will you find out why not?
  • Are you collecting all of that information from dissenters and identifying the big things that are broken in your business and fixing them?
  • Are you identifying and holding those who have declared that they would recommend you close and building stronger relationships with them?
  • Have you spent the time to find out what they really love about your business and then pinpointed which part of your operation and in what geographies those actions are coming from?
  • Have you created systems and processes to reliably replicate those loved experiences across your enterprise?

Here are five actions to determine if you're moving in the right direction, and to gain the required accountability.

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image of Jeanne Bliss
Jeanne Bliss is the founder of CustomerBLISS (, a consulting and coaching company, and the author of Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action.