It always amazes me to see people, especially management, abuse the concept of KPI’s, the Key Performance Indicators. Instead of using them as indicator as they suppose to be, management like to use them as target for the company to meet. As soon as we are using the KPI’s as target, you set people up to game the system and one of the biggest right now (that I know of) is done by car dealers, at least in The Netherlands.

And YES, here in The Netherlands, car dealers are gaming the NPS, the net promoter score, like madmen. So I question myself ‘What is the use of this?’. For those who don’t know the NPS let me explain. NPS is used as one of the metrics to measure the customer experience. It takes the overall experience of the customer in scope to score the company, product or service by asking ‘How likely is it that you will promote our company, product or service to your social network?’. The customer can rate this on a scale from one to ten to express his experience in terms of customer satisfaction.

The NPS is one way to measure the customer journey and get feedback about it. With this feedback we can improve our service or product so we might get a higher score next time. So it is a means to make the customers opinion transparent and be able to inspect the customers demands and adapt our product or service based on this feedback. Now there is one flaw with the NPS in combination with the Dutch culture. The NPS categorises in three groups. The promotors’ll score you with a 9 or 10, the passives with a 7 or 8 and detractors’ll score you with a 6 or lower score. And although we are used to the scale of 10 in our way of scoring (we do it throughout our whole educational career as well) we never give a 10 when emotional things play a part in the score. Nobody is perfect so we don’t give tens in general. If I don’t know an improvement for you you still get an eight and if you are lucky I’ll give you a nine. In The Netherlands people tend to give you a seven or eight when the are satisfied and happy. Unfortunately this will result in negative values for the rating (score = % of Promoters – % of Detractors).

I experience this myself while giving trainings. During the training I ask the trainees to rate me on a scale from one to five with the remark ‘If it is not a five, please give me a tip to make it more valuable for you…’ Now guess what happens…….right, I receive a bunch of threes and fours of which 80% is without a tip. Toward the end of the training people tend to give only fours and fives but as soon as the feedback form needs to filled in, you see sevens and eights without tips for both the trainer as well as the training. Luckily there are a lot of tops on the forms though 🙂 .

Two examples of Dutch dealers ‘gaming’ the NPS score one with a apple-pie lottery…

Now back to the dealers gaming the NPS score. In this case the NPS (a lagging KPI)  just becomes a target without caring about the feedback, the indicator. The score is now merely a rat race between dealers to get the highest score. Some dealers are even having an apple-pie-lottery for those who fill in the form. I question myself if I need to rate them a ten to win it though?!? So I would give them a ten. Instead of pleasing customers by getting their service improved, they setup the customers in giving high scores. With that they fail to learn and truly improve themselves. By the way, I only show KIA and Peugeot in the picture but I am fully aware that others are gaming the outcome of the NPS as well.

As an Agile coach I know that ‘being transparant’ is quite scary for companies and the people. But it is the only way to really improve as a company or human being. So please stop gaming the system, whether it is the NPS, CSAT (Customer Satisfaction score), CES (Customer Effort Score) or any other kind of customer feedback you gain. Try to improve by doing better than previous times and make long-lasting sustainable improvements that brings customer value….

Do you really think customers care about an apple-pie if their car brakes down while on route to their holiday destination?