Net Promoter Score for customer service ratings? Ugh.

Gary Bartos
3 min readFeb 27, 2022


Have you ever been told by a customer service rep that your rating is important to their performance review? Maybe you even received a follow-up email asking for your rating?

You got NPSed!

“How would you rate your experience with our customer service agent? Click on a rating from 0 to 10.”


The Net Promoter Score (NPS) may be useful as a measure of consumer satisfaction with a product or service or (arguably) as a rating of customer service. But since I’m calling customer service about a product or service — why ask me just about the customer service?

This “Change My Mind” meme photo shows a smug, smiling dude sitting behind a table with a paper sign hanging down. In the original photo, the  sign contained a provocative statement followed by the words “Change My Mind.” As a meme people replace the original provocative statement with something silly. The words I’ve added are “Net Promoter Scores are inappropriate for customer service ratings! Change my mind.” This is meant as a joke, not as a burden on you to change my mind!
This is an old meme. The “Change My Mind” guy is still around, though.

Two NPS Questions Would Be Okay

I don’t call customer service to chat. Typically I call because a product or service is not working as I expect it: a feature broke, or a mystery charge appeared in my monthly bill.

I’ve had great customer support for what turned out to be an unfixable problem. Did Mary do a good job? The best I could expect. Would I recommend the product to a friend? Absolutely not.

Recently, it took about 30 minutes over multiple calls to get an answer from one customer service rep. A more experienced rep at a different company offering the same service answered my question in one minute. Same answer, different quality of customer service.

For pity’s sake, allow us to report on the level of (dis)satisfaction with the product/service after customer service has tried to help.

And how can an NPS score not be skewed when the customer service rep tells me that their performance review depends on it? Sheesh.

“Here’s your deep-fried Cardboard Burger With ‘Real’ Onions (TM). Please take this survey about my performance so that I, too, can continue to earn money to feed my family.”

The History of NPS

Whether you’re a (sigh) promoter or detractor of NPS, consider reading the following 2003 article in Harvard Business Review by Fred Reichheld, creator of the NPS score.

Here’s a quote from the article about customer satisfaction surveys before NPS:

In most cases, dealers told me, the satisfaction survey is a charade that they play along with to remain in the good graces of the manufacturer and to ensure generous allocations of the hottest-selling models.

Let’s recast this as a comment about NPS as it is sometimes(ab)used for customer service feedback:

In most cases, customer service reps told me, the NPS survey is a charade that they play along with to remain employed and to ensure modest increases in their paycheck.

[That joking rephrasing reflects actual comments that customer service reps have made to me.]

The One Takeaway You Need to Remember

Feedback about customer service is an opportunity for the customer to report on two things:

  • (Dis)satisfaction with the feature, product, or service after the call.
  • (Dis)satisfaction with customer service.

I wish there were a service that would track the best customer service reps from job to job so that I could buy whatever they represent. Seriously. I would remain loyal to a great rep if I only had the chance.



Gary Bartos

Founder of Echobatix, engineer, inventor of assistive technology for people with disabilities. Keen on accessible gaming.