Most Promoters Promote And So Do Some Detractors

We recently published a benchmark of Net Promoter Scores of 180 companies across 19 industries. Within that research, we showed that promoters are more likely than detractors to repurchase. In a separate analysis, we examined the actual number of times that people recommended companies and compared that to the NPS rating they gave those companies. As you can see in the graphic below:

  • Promoters are more likely to recommend. Promoters are much more likely than detractors to recommend a company across all industries.
  • Not all promoters recommend. The number of promoters that recommended a company ranges from 47% (parcel delivery services) to 80% (retailers).
  • Some detractors recommend. The number of detractors that recommended a company ranges from 13% for banks to 39% of retailers.

What doesn’t show-up in this graphic is the intensity of recommendations. Our detailed analysis examined the frequency of recommendations across all of these industries. Promoters are an average of 3.4x more likely than detractors to recommend companies to three or more friends (ranging from 2.1x more likely for major appliances to 5.7x more likely for banks).

Bottom line: NPS is a good, but not perfect indication of actual recommendations

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

10 thoughts on “Most Promoters Promote And So Do Some Detractors”

  1. OK, I’ll confess to being confused. Hasn’t the classic detractor always been characterized as someone who will actively disparage the company, and discourage friends/colleagues from doing business with them? What are these people doing recommending?!?

    1. Bob: Promoters are just “more likely to recommend” and detractors are just “less likely to recommend” which is consistent with the methodology that asks them how likely they are to recommend…

    2. Remember, Bob, the recommend question is a measurement of sentiment, not behavior. Fyi, these findings are consistent with what many customers find with their own datasets.

  2. One question please. What about when your NPS scores are influenced by the company you work for?? We are surveyed by a large company that we work for. The comments from the customers are affected by their experience during the initial process with this company and the after results from the company we work for. We are currently at 41 NPS and market comp 38 NPS. The executives we work for want our NPS higher but because of their policies and the customers experience with them I feel they negatively affect our overall score.??

      1. Sorry…you probably need a little more info. I have owned a service plumbing company for 16 years. Our biggest account which is a home warranty company surveys all the customers that we service for them. The customer initially calls the home warranty with the problem. The warranty co than sends us a work order and we go out collect and collect a deductible and assess the situation. We than call for approval depending on the customers coverage. Customers are very upset if something is not covered or if they have more out of pocket based on limited coverage. We than repair the problem and afterwards we are surveyed by the home warranty co. The NPS is a fairly new surveying technique. We have always scored high in professionalism, appearance and job done correctly, but now that NPS is added it is much lower than the other categories?? I feel NPS is not a good indicator in this scenario??

      2. Larry: You are absolutely right in your assessment of NPS (and its limitations). The likelihood of a customer to recommend is likely driven by a lot more than your interactions with them. So their feedback is not about your firm, but about their collective experiences with all products, services, and entities that the customer sees as being related to the warrantee experience. Companies often make this mistake of using NPS to evaluate a specific interaction (like a plumbing service call). Good luck in helping the home warrantee company improve its customer feedback program. Maybe you need to get them to read this blog 😉

  3. This is excellent information. You mention that promoters are more likely to recommend to three or more people, but what is the base rate for such active promotion? In other words, what percentage of people recommend to three or more people at each recommendation level, on average? A graph of that data would illuminate you findings further. Fascinating, and maps to my experiences.

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