I was spurred to look up what I’d written on Netpromoter or NPS by two things this week.

First seeing a tweet about Nina at Porsche talking at Jump on Porsche’s journey with NPS. Nina has been in the Chief Customer Officer Forum since its early days (crumbs CCOF it’s about to go into its 7th year now) and as a Porsche nut, I’ve enjoyed following her smart journey through measurement and the complex job of motivating a mixture of owned and franchised outlets in a very sales led industry.

What hit me most was when I was chairing a conference 2 years ago where she presented in Brussels ( a fun few days !) was the show of hands. I asked how many people used Netpromoter and about half the audience was using or experimenting with it. I then asked those with an advocacy strategy to keep their hands up. Only Porsche were really trying to generate advocacy rather than measure an expressed intention about advocacy. At the time, very few e.g. first direct were measuring how many customers had been advocated rather than a “would you?” – obviously very different answers. And have you ever been surveyed or asked the NPS question by companies who have grown astronomically through word of mouth with little or no advertising e.g. Amazon, Google, Facebook or Skype?

And secondly being asked some questions about my point of view on measurement and NPS – that will hopefully lead to a conversation to help a charity of which I’m a fan.

In the past 3 years, I have only worked with one business, British Gas, who really had a handle on the use and value of NPS scores. It had done the detailed economics behind movement in NPS scores and was using its model to make faster investment decisions across the 4 drivers of NPS and the resultant effect on life time vale.

I just looked up 3 previous blogs on NPS which go into certain angles:

In “Raid that budget” as a result of the 2011 Netpromoter report I was talking about the balance of spending between brand and experience.

In “I dont want to be a benchmark” I was talking about the balance of measurement vs action. How come the best companies don’t try to measure you in the same way. How come other companies try harder to measure you than do something with what you tell them.

In “The big apple and netpromoter” from back in 2009, I took a detailed look at NPS in the context of Apple’s success and understanding the complexity of the drivers: brand, price, product, service.

But my, how things have changed in the last year, let alone 2. Marketing has changed so much. I wrote about it our last newsletter ‘Is Marketing dead?” concerning the debate we’d had at the CCOForum at eBay.  2011 Euro Contact Centre of the Year winner DRL illustrated it so well. Marketing as it was – brand led – had already moved on. It’s about winning in search (SEO) and actual experience so that any brand promise is met. If not met social just blows the brand out of the water.

So today word of mouth strategies are fully to the front of mind. And measurement has moved on in to a much more analytics focus.

And in this new environment companies are struggling with a couple of things:

a) Listening to what customers and front line staff are telling them  – and acting on everything

b) Unravelling BIG data when there are so few high calibre business analysts in the market to use the tools at their disposal

c) Platforms in the cloud are so capable compared to their own systems. This is important in 2 ways:  (i) The big guys (Amazon, Google, Facebook, eBay) fight first and foremost for the very best talent in the world and apply it to developing the business going through their platforms. They win at analytics and get faster and faster at reacting to what customers want. Facebook, although massive to branding and word of mouth, is only just starting as a commercial platform  – take a look at things like Soldsie. Even the big companies won’t be able to compete on what their platforms can do – if you doubt it consider that Facebook supports 1 billion users with 1000 engineers and zero downtime. Ask your IT director what his figures are. (ii) The tech boom that’s going on in Boris’ London is all about cloud based applications and the people doing it are developing stuff for customers to value, not for businesses to buy; they are embedding service, rapid feedback and analytics in the products. They are just so much better than “IT”.

And a final point – people are being bambuzzled by ‘social” in service. For 2 reasons: (i) Executives who don’t live on social vs executives who do – you have to “get it” to see what its good for ( and to stay in touch with what’s happening in social) (ii) You have to be specific – it’s not “social”, you have to say which tool for what purpose e.g. using a customer community to allow customers to help other customers (crowdservicing) or e.g. using Twitter to identify what certain people are saying about you or e.g. using YouTube to let customers train themselves on how to fill in your forms.

So next time someone says “social” to you at work, stop them and ask them “which tool for what purpose?” and see if they can answer….