Your Own Personal Report Card3

Posted by Thomas Miller, CCIM

I noticed a magazine lately with the lead story entitled “Can ONE NUMBER help you delight customers ?”  It was in Fortune Small Business. Since I was in a doctors’ office and had the time, I read the article. It interested me since we are all in the customer satisfaction business, whether we want to be or not. What could this secret, magic ‘number’ be that defines how we are doing with our clients ? The article refers to an evaluation system developed by Fred Reichheld, a partner at a Boston consulting firm. It’s called the Net Promoter Score, or NPS to those in the know. It represents a numerical factor of your customers who are promoters of your services to others. Those clients of yours that are so enamored with your product or services that they actively promote your business to others they interact with. Then the formula deducts those customers who are ambivalent or did not care for your services or product; called detractors. So, it’s the promoters minus detractors = your score, or ‘NPS’.

To get your NPS, customers are asked to rate your services / products on a score from 0 to 10. Promoters are rankings 9 to 10. Passives are 8 to 7, these ranks are not in the formula at all. Detractors are 6 thru 0. The percentage of promoters less the percentage of detractors equals your score. Apparently this scoring system is being embraced by businesses and growing in popularity. So, not only will people have their credit score to discuss over their morning latté’s, but now their NPS score as well.

Whether one cares to initiate such a program within your business or not; what I took away from the article was the mindset of a participant company’s employees. If they were to buy into the system, when they are dealing with a customer at any level, they are thinking of……” OK, will my service be worthy of a 9 or 10 ranking ?”  To me, if I rank a service or product a 9 or a 10, it had better be pretty darn good. Approaching perfection as I would define it. Now ask yourself, would the last customer you just interacted with before you read this Blog article rank your service at a 9 or 10 ?  When I asked myself this question, the answer was ‘probably not’. Maybe something more of a 7-8.          

Most managers agree that customer retention is extremely important in growing any business. So what do we do about the general lack of excellent customer servcie we are so good at giving out ? Well, we might start asking our customers how they liked our service / product. Then listen to the answers. Resist all urges to be defensive, since that alienates the customer and defeats the whole process. Maybe the customer’s complaint was that you didn’t provide XYZ. Let’s say you actually did. Then obviously you did not effectively communicate the fact that you did provide XYZ, correct ? Candid customer feedback can provide invaluable criteria to improve your services. Maybe this is something we all should start to think about and how it fits our business profile.

Whether we’re an owner, a senior manager, junior manager, in sales, in charge of filing  or putting products into boxes for shipping, we all need to be thinking about asking for feedback in how we are doing, so we can improve. We all need to keep this ‘NPS’ concept in mind. Our personality, our moods, our workload, our personal stresses all mean nothing to that next customer who presents themselves to us…..all they want is excellent service in exchange for their business. And they deserve to get it. And they will get it, from others if not from you.

Last thought……I had an acquaintance that worked for The Disney Company in Anaheim, Ca., and knew about the operations at Disneyland . He told me something that really stuck with me.  He said that when any employee goes outside the employee area in Disneyland, into the public area; they ALL are acting out their respective parts. Well, that’s obvious with Cinderella and Goofy, but it is also true for the guy in the red and white stripped searsucker coat that has that dustpan on a stick who sweeps up the spilled popcorn on Main Street, USA.  That guys’ part is to act as the friendly, smiling, clean outfit, well informed, wonderful guy who sweeps up popcorn and loves his job and loves the kids and loves the adults spilling crap all over his sidewalk ! No grumbling, no complaining, no grousing, only smiles. Now that guy would rate a 9 or 10 in my book. He does his job and he elevates my Disneyland experience while doing it. My judges card reads a 9.35.

So look at yourself honestly and if we’re not acting the part of the wonderful owner, senior manager, junior manager, salesperson, filing person or shipping clerk, maybe we should give it some thought. Maybe that alone might raise our NPS with everyone.

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About the Author

Thomas Miller, CCIM

Thomas Miller, CCIM is the president and broker of Miller Industrial Properties in Reno, Nevada. He has worked in industrial real estate since 1991, with 15 years of previous experience designing and building industrial warehousing and manufacturing facilities in the northern Nevada market. Contact Tom at or 775-742-9891.


  1. Adam Dorrell

    good thoughts on the Net Promoter Score. I’ve been using it for four years in many different organisations, and we’ve not failed to see significant improvements in customer service.

    If the entire organisation understands Net Promoter Score (and it’s not difficult!) you can actually change a company culture to become more customer focused.

    It’s possible to start measuring it manually and with a spreadsheet to graph it. Any small business can do it. After a while you want to invest in specialist tools like CustomerGauge to help but the first steps are most important.

    Finally, you may find this “2 minute guide to Net Promoter” in cartoon format interesting…


  2. Diane Lapointe


    Thank you for your inspiring article. Nowadays, it’s imperative that we focus on the highest level of service to our customer base. I have worked for an organization that was very committed to surveying their customers in the form of an anonymous survey letter after the transaction was completed. It gave our customers an even greater opportunity to share their honest comments with the company. The comments were sometimes brutal but we had a chance to really examine the way that we provided customer service.

    Your article also reminded me of another company who set the pace for great customer service in the retail industry. When I lived in Seattle, shopping at Nordstrom was always a great experience. They were so focus on delighting their customers that I eventually eliminated their competition from my shopping trips.

    Let’s make NPS part of our regular vocabulary.


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