This question comes up a lot. Is Net Promoter Score (NPS) just a vanity metric. To answer this question we must understand what NPS is and what it is not. To be honest – I think this is a very fair question. NPS in it's truest form is your “Customer Happiness” score. Getting a higher NPS score does not mean you will make more money (it often is correlate but it is not a guarantee). Likewise a negative NPS score does not mean your product is a failure. So, how then, do you accurately measure and get value from your Net Promoter Score. The short answer is that you use the NPS score and data to help drive and prioritize your fixes, improvements and new features. You use the NPS data to understand what your customer opinions are. You then are able to evolve your product based around their feedback.
How is an NPS Score a Vanity Metric
Your NPS score is a vanity metric when it is used as a end point goal and bragging point. If you ever hear yourself saying, “If we have at least an NPS score of ## then we don't need to worry about fixing bugs and releasing enhancements”, then you are using NPS as a vanity metric.
How is an NPS Score not a Vanity Metric
Your NPS score is not a vanity metric when it is used to measure progress and understand your customers. If you set a goal for the quarter to increase your NPS by 10 points (regardless of what the start and end NPS scores are) then it is not being used as a vanity metric.
Understand the Score versus Record the Score
The above examples are following a common pattern. Those who use NPS as a vanity metric are those that are focusing on the score itself. This can often happen when you are in a large company. Maybe your company uses NPS throughout its organization and your NPS is often compared against other teams. It is easy to assume that since your NPS is 10 points higher than another team then your product is better. However this is not true. By comparison those who focus more on understanding NPS changes and deltas are those that are not using NPS as a vanity metric. They strive to understand the data behind the score. The want to see their NPS score improve but use it as a way to understand what their customers are saying. Those who do not use it as a vanity metric are those who are never done improving their NPS score.
Use your NPS score and data to understand how to prioritize your efforts and evolve your product. Focus more on continually improving your score rather then reaching a certain score and focusing on other things.