How to Set Net Promoter® Targets for Your Organisation and Staff

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Once you have the three prerequisites to setting Net Promoter targets in place, you can move on to setting targets for your organisation.

Give local targets not company wide targets

The cultural and industry factors that impact Net Promoter Score® are wide and impossible to accurately predict. Between similar countries, the same industry can have vastly different scores. Within countries, different industries can have vastly different scores.

To counter this, you need to provide targets at a “local” level, whatever local means in your circumstance. In a global company, this probably means not giving each operating country the same target. In a national company, this means not giving every operating division the same target.

Use relative change targets

Stop worrying about absolute scores and instead focus on relative changes in scores over time. We know from the Net Promoter research that if your score goes up, then your revenue will probably go up. This is the basis for using Net Promoter as a proxy measure for customer loyalty.

This is also one of the other reasons that running a stable, repeatable measurement process is so important. Cultural and other factors that may skew your overall Net Promoter result are less important if you run a consistent process. This is because the same skewing factors are present in every result. When scores are assessed relative to each other, the skewing cancels out.

The starting point for setting targets using relative scores is to look at history. What has the score been in the last few months? If you can, extend the history out to a year or more. Some industries have substantial seasonality in their scores: low at some times of the year and high at others. If this is relevant to you ensure that you take that into account.

Once you have a handle on the starting point there are several ways to set relative targets. The three that I like to use the most are:

Reasonable improvement rates

Generally the lower the current score the easier it will be to improve it. As this chart from”Answering the Ultimate Question” indicates, the lower the NPS, the greater the opportunity for improvement.

Using this approach, different business units or groups within the organisation may have different “relative change” goals. Those with higher scores have less head room and so can expect a smaller change. Those with lower scores have more opportunity for improvement.

Significant Improvement

Harking back to the point that you need to know clearly when a movement in the score is real and when it might be statistical chance; another goal setting approach is to look for “significant improvement”.

This “significant” is in the statistical sense, i.e. you are confident that the change is real. The goal for a particular part of the organisation may be simply to create a significant improvement in the score.

If you want to check for significance in your Net Promoter numbers download our free Net Promoter® Comparison Tester.

Break down the score

There are several mathematical ways to improve a Net Promoter Score: move detractors to passives, move passives to promoters, move detractors to promoters. Another goaling approach is to select one of these and make that the goal.

So instead of the goal being to change NPS® itself, the goal may be to, say, reduce Detractors by 5%, or increase Promoters by 5%, or halve the number of 0’s and 1’s. You can even flip these goals back and forth on a regular basis.

This is another way to target the way the organisation is focused. Focusing on halving the very low sores is, for instance, is a focus on fixing serious process and service or product quality issues. Focusing on improving the number of Promoters is a focus on pulling ahead of your industry in key areas.

If you have uncovered  a particularly good way to set Net Promoter targets please let me know in a comment below.

What is Possible?

After all this you may be wondering just what is possible in terms of turning around your NPS. How about a change from -10 to +30 in two years.

…Whilst their CE programme was multifaceted it critically included changing employee’s measures and making Customer Experience measures account for upwards of 30% of their bonus. In 2 years they have moved their Net Promoter score from -10 to +30.

Lessons in bonusing the Customer Experience measures

There are more real world examples of how much you can improve NPS in this post.


I've created a Business Leaders’ Practical Guide to Implementing Net Promoter.  Download it Here [2]Answering the Ultimate Question, Laura Brooks

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