Net Promoter Scores Vary By Region

We recently published a benchmark of Net Promoter Scores of 180 companies across 19 industries. Someone asked me if the scores varied across different parts of the U.S. To be honest, I had never thought about that question and had certainly never researched it.

As you may be able to tell, I have a hard time leaving a quesiton unanswered. So I examined the data by region for all 19 industries. As you can see in the chart below:

  • NPS is highest in the South for 16 out of 19 industries.
  • NPS is lowest in the West for 13  out of 19 industries.
  • There’s a double-digit NPS gap in nine industries.
  • The largest NPS gapsare as follows:
    • Major appliances (21 point gap between South and West)
    • Grocery chans (18 point gap between Midwest/South and West)
    • Hotel Chains (17 point gap between South and Northeast)

The bottom line: Want to improve NPS? Survey more from the South and less from the West 😉

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about these topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

19 Responses to Net Promoter Scores Vary By Region

  1. Sam Klaidman says:

    Very interesting but raises a question. How did you determine the regional impact?

    Also, I for one would be very interested in seeing a similar analysis by global region or, preferably, by major country. This will be very important to international businesses (as you know).

    Thanks for your insights.


    • Dave Fish says:

      Bruce, we found similar resultswith our CEBenchmarks product ….I guess the south is just kind of laid back. We found that there was also a big effect for rural vs. metro…

    • Dave Fish says:

      Sam, also there are three confounding varaiables in doing this globally. First language equivalents cross language don’t usually have the same meaning. Second, cultural response styles vary which are an artifact of culture rather than actual experience. Third, the actual experience can vary by locale ( what we are really interested in) . Disentangling these three is somewhat problematic, so we don’t generally recommend doing these kinds of comparisons.

      • Sam Klaidman says:

        Thanks Dave but many global businesses have adopted NPS as a KPI and they just can’t help themselves from comparing country or regional managers performance against the KPI’s. And, as you correctly point out, the actual experience is what is important. So, any suggestions on how to deal with this issue?

      • Bruce Temkin says:

        Sam/Dave: I’ve worked on many global studies and worked with companies on this issue. It’s unfair to compare NPS across regions, as cultural differences radically change how people answer multiple choice questions on a scale. I recommend that every region establish a baseline and goals for improvement. There are ways to normalize results, but that’s a longer discussion.

      • Dave Fish says:

        I agree with Bruce, those comparisons are are problematic for the reasons I described above. We usually do not recommend making cross regional (e.g., cross country) comparisons with exception of some forms of behavioral measures (e.g., retention, etc).

      • Mike says:

        Dave – I agree 100%. Working now on several large global CSAT trackers and to compare across global geography would be very misleading. Better to track relative comparisons within geography and across time. That said, I still see clients producing charts with country flags across the top and CSAT results compared.

        In particular NPS would be susceptible to cultural differences in scale usage.

    • Richard says:

      I was trolling through the net looking for info on NPS, hence the time delay. Did you ever get a response to your question about global differences

  2. Irene Sibaja says:

    Another question to ask would be why does the geographic gap exist, and what does it imply?

  3. Larry says:

    I recently traveled to Florida from Las Vegas, NV to visit my son in Gainesville, where he is going to college. I ate at different restaurants in Gainesville and in St Augustine and noticed below par customer service everywhere I went, except at Chick fil ,which was superb. I think most people in the south have lower expectations in regards to customer service?? My wife and I were surprised when a girl at a store we went in to greeted us and made eye contact and pleasant conversation. I bought three pairs of jeans from her. I asked her,after check out, if she was from around that area and she stated no, but was from Las Vegas originally. Being from Las Vegas I think I have been conditioned to expect excellent customer service anywhere or from anyone I come across??

  4. Guy Letts says:

    “Want to improve your NPS? Survey more from the South and less from the West”

    Bruce, could you clarify please? Surely the goal should not be a higher NPS by gaming the survey but by serving customers better. One gives a real business benefit, the other gives no business benefit at all.

    Fascinating results but, as Dave indicates in his comment, identifying and solving the problems is more important than reporting a higher score.

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Guy: The bottom line in the post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, I don’t believe at all in chasing scores. But it does show that metrics can be heavily influenced by sampling strategies. Successful companies use customer feedback (NPS and other sources) to improve, not to keep score.

      • Guy Letts says:

        Sorry for missing the irony – I think I was in a state of shock! I always treat the score as a temperature check – in practice the main thing is to know which end of the dial the score is so you can react accordingly. I’ve known people start arguing about the decimal places and it’s never a good sign. Thanks for clarifying.

  5. Sam Klaidman says:

    Bruce, that’s the same advise I (and probably all of the readers) give but your data and Larry’s indicate that different regions have different expectations and report different levels of Sat. for similar service.

    The population of the Eurozone is approximately the same as the U.S. yet we lump the U.S. into one measurement and council our clients to measure individual trends for each countrybecause of cultural and experiential differences.

    WHat am I missing please?

    • Bruce Temkin says:

      Sam: Another great question! I always look for baselines and improvement plans by region, whether it’s in the US or elsewhere across the globe. To be honest, I haven’t fully examined the US variance, which might be driven by other demographic factors (e.g., age differences) across regions. There are some global differences, however, that are culturally-based and not attributable to demographics.

  6. Dave Fish says:

    Good point. I would suggest a few things in relation to goal setting: 1) base line improve approaches generally work pretty well in taking into account regional variations (per Bruce above) and 2) short of that, baseline units to regional scores (or “like units” e.g., metro vs rural) is also a common practice that takes into account geo-demographic influences. Also I would submit the cultural difference and language difference within Europe has a far greater variance than here in the US. But as both Bruce’s and our data point out, they most certainly do exist. We dived into this with our study. If you interested you can download the deck here..

  7. Thunder says:

    Net promoter is a more complicated that it seems. This is a link that explain the concept

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