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The Number Games – A story about how the web’s biggest are using NPS to stay at the top

The Harvard Business Review has called it the One number you need to grow. Net Promoter score is a number or grade we give to our customers' loyalty. It's a truth universally acknowledged that high loyalty = good business. So how do these numbers actually effect business? A company's net promoter score is none other than a measure of the number of people that would recommend you vis-a-vis the ones that wouldn't. Here's a basic illustration of what the Net Promoter Score actually represents. The value or actual figure is deducted from the answers to a series of questions designed for this purpose.

Question that you may use to find your NPS: "On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to refer to a friend or colleague?"


Three companies that consistently score some of the he highest Net Promoter Scores in the world are Apple, Zappos and Amazon. But what are the commonalities that seem to have propelled them to the top and keep them there…

Each Brand works in its own way towards the ultimate goal for growth – improving their Net Promoter Score.



Apple make it very clear that their goal is to delight customers, the company has focused on creating a unique customer experience that hones in on what people really want for many years. They go to great lengths and make unparallelled efforts to understand what their customers really want, and ultimately how to delight them.

This includes listening daily – Apple’s store managers and customer care representatives are the main drivers of this, however everyone gets involved. Not only do they look out for detractors but they also look at the reasons behind their customers’ unhappiness and dig deep into any negative reviews.

They then focus on turning these detractors around by responding quickly. Seeking out their detractors and calling them directly with the intent of turning them into promoters – these calls turn into more purchases, boosting sales. In spite of what the media sometimes reports, the Apple structure is built around this. This is the basis on which outlet managers base their decisions on a daily basis. The employees are fully aware of how Net Promoter Score works and also how they compare to other Apple outlets in the same country. This perhaps breeds a bit of healthy competition.

According to Forbes contributor Steve Danning,

“Each day, there is an opening daily standup (the “daily download”) where the employees review the NPS feedback and discuss how to adjust their work accordingly.”




It has been called the most customer-centric company in the world. One of the early adopters of Big Data analytics, Amazon uses any information available to assess the customer experience and improve it. It is one of the few companies that puts its money where its mouth is. Amazon’s experience is based around keeping people happy; they re one of the few companies that will give their customers a quick response, an apology and a refund for a technical problem encountered on the site.

This is a company that uses its data to delight the customer and offer proactive service. Maz Iqbal from Customer Think received the following email after a failed attempt to purchase a film.


We’re contacting you about your recent attempt to purchase “The Wolverine”. We recently learned that a technical issue may have prevented you from being able to watch this video. We’re very sorry about this. 

To help make it up to you, we’ve issued a £3.48 for this order. The refund will be applied to your original order payment method and should complete within the next 2-3 business days. 

We look forward to seeing you again soon. 

Customer Service


This level of customer-centric behaviour is so rare that it leaves many users astonished. Yet this is simply data put to good use, coupled with the determination to delight the customer.
Amazon of course, knows a lot about its customers but it uses this information to work for them not against them. How you use the data matters!



Zappos’ business strategy has always been to focus on customer service. It’s known for its willingness to accept returns, quick response, and the way it follows up the detractors to learn how it can improve. However Zappos has been one of the first to leverage a new way of looking at Net Promoter Score. employee Net Promoter Score. The term defined the Net Promoter Score of the company internally. Busines leaders are fully aware of how important it is to have your people behind you.

This just takes it a few steps further and gives management the tool to improve their internal NPS. It has been called eNPS or employee Net Promoter Score and is a reflection of how people feel about the company they work for. It is an important number because it allows the employer to gauge employee enthusiasm, giving management a measure of employee happiness which is very important to company success. It also provides confidence in the employees when the numbers start looking good. In fact a high eNPS has given Zappos the confidence to allow their employees to use their social media channels freely as Zappos employees.

This has become Zappos differentiator, it hinges on the combining eNPS with social media policy and  strategy. Which basically translates into arming your employees with social tools to spread the word after you make sure most of them will be promoting the brand with enthusiasm (by measuring eNPS).

“Zappos also has a clear social media policy that allows its staff to tweet under their own name while identified as a Zappos employee. That’s a risk.” “Zappos can feel confident that (embarassing employee posts) won’t happen—because it’s clearly found that it has a high eNPS score.” Steve Denning.


This proves that a number of approaches can bring one to improve NPs, by approaching it creatively and finding a way that complements with Company culture the road to success need not be so steep.


We have summed up these big results into 3 easy tips to keep in mind daily…


1. Its not just about knowing how many detractors you have – its about following them up to turn them into happier customers.

2. Hit while the iron is hot – Quick Response to detractors can turn into instant sales boost

3. Use many social touch-points to arm your promoters and identify detractors to bring back to the herd

4. Promote your company positively online and remember to assess your team’s NPS




Credits and Resources

Interesting Presentation based around their NPS from ZAPPOS  – what principles drive the growth of  Zappos