NetPromoter vs Customer Effort – Which is Best?


We give you the pros and cons of the 4 most common metrics; NetPromoter Score, Customer Effort, Average Handling Time and First Contact Resolution.

NetPromoter Score (NPS)


The NetPromoter Score is a customer satisfaction metric based on the likelihood that the customer will recommend your services to their friends and family.

The positives

  • The NPS focuses on the outcome of a simple statement: “would you recommend this service – yes or no?”
  • It can be linked to social customer service strategies, as promoters and detractors are easily visible via Facebook and Twitter.

The negatives

  • The question can cause confusion. This is because some people may feel it is not their business to recommend a service to their friends or family, and therefore answer the question negatively even if they have had a good experience.
  • There is no proven link to revenue change.
  • As it is an outcome rather than process-focused metric, it can be hard to derive actions from the data.
  • The NPS does not assess the contact centre in isolation. Instead, it asks for the opinion of the business as a whole. Therefore the actions of the company outside of the contact centre’s control (e.g. an energy company increasing their prices) can negatively skew NPS data.

Customer Effort Score


The Customer Effort Score is a customer satisfaction metric which simply asks your customers how much effort they had to put in to do business with you.

The positives

  • The Customer Effort Score offers a simple 5-7 point scale.
  • It offers a better predictor of loyalty than the NetPromoter Score.
  • It helps to identify areas for improvement as it can track the touch points in a service chain.

The negatives

  • The Customer Effort Score ignores the influence that your price, product and competitors may be having on your customers.

Average Handling Time (AHT)


The amount of time it takes an agent to deal with all aspects of a call. This includes Talk Time and After Call Work.

The positives

  • Using AHT in the contact centre gives you an idea of how much it costs to serve each customer and helps you to get a good handle on overall efficiency.
  • Monitoring the AHT of individual agents can help you to identify issues. For example, long silences, agents putting customers on hold and conflict situations.
  • Having a firm grasp of AHT can help with planning decisions, such as shift allocation.
  • Presenting new starters with AHT statistics can give them an idea of how long each call should take and what will eventually be expected of them on a day-to-day basis.

The negatives

  • Too much emphasis on AHT can hinder the quality of calls, as agents become preoccupied with rushing customers off the phones rather than resolving their issues.
  • AHT can have a negative impact on stress and employee retention, as it reinforces the cultural image of the “battery hen” call centre; with timed toilet breaks and unrealistic targets.
  • It presumes that all customers and calls are the same.

First Contact Resolution (FCR)


First Contact Resolution measures whether or not a customer issue is resolved during their first interaction with the contact centre.

The positives

  • It is a good measure of quality.
  • It provides data for root analysis, as unresolved issues can be identified and analysed.
  • It can identify training needs by raising questions such as “why did that agent not know where to find that information?”

The negatives

  • It isn’t the fairest metric to use in today’s contact centres – social media channels are handling an increasing number of simpler queries, and only the more complex questions are coming through via phone. This makes it more difficult for agents to achieve FCR when speaking to a customer.
  • It can be difficult to define exactly what FCR is in your contact centre.

So which metric is best?

Sadly, there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to choosing the right metrics for your contact centre. However, I do believe that any metrics are better than no metrics.

When deciding on which metrics to use, you should base your decisions on the wider goals of your organisation, and make a conscious effort to blend process and outcome metrics together for a more balanced perspective.

Most importantly of all, make sure you do something with the data that you extract from using your metrics. Don’t just write up reports! Derive actions for improvements and use this information to improve your customer and agent experience.

Carolyn Blunt

For more information

If you are looking for more information, see our article What is the best metric for your contact centre? Or watch a free replay of our webinar The best metrics for your contact centre.

With thanks to Carolyn Blunt, Managing Director of Real Results Training Ltd for providing this insight.

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  • NPS is not yes or no, It is 0 to 10.

    Tomás 29 Apr at 00:02
  • Got to agree that there is no “one size fits all” solution.

    Sometimes we have clients that approach us wanting to just implement NPS – a one question survey. Yet knowing a customer’s NPS rating of your business without at least knowing why they felt that way and what the organisation can do, if anything, to improve the score is relatively meaningless.

    A combination of NPS, Customer Effort Score and First Contact Resolution, as one part of a well structured survey is more common approach from our experience.

    Paul Quinn 1 May at 02:17
  • Very true that there is no one-size fits all solution.

    I think anyone who is a proponent of one measure over another needs to read your spot-on conclusion.

    Jeff Toister 1 May at 23:07
  • If only life were simple enough where one metric would hold the answer to all our problems! I really like “customer effort” remembering that effort will be related to call type and is perception. Customers wanting credit extensions may feel quite differently about effort vs. those looking to buy something. Reason for callcould then influence Service Levels, AHT, FCR etc. At the end of the day, how much effort is reasonable needs to be matched to outcome expected and could signifcantly impact operational and quality effectiveness.

    Mark 2 May at 02:37
  • I post the same question without any clear answer from all expert . Fore CES Stil

    AF 4 May at 19:40
  • Hi! Our client just started introducing NPS. Is it fair to put NPS on agents scorecard? In my opinion, if we have to rate the agent’s performance, we should use customer satisfaction and first call resolution instead of NPS. NPS is something about the product and serrvices of the company as a whole. We often get detractors about delayed dispatches and long wait time int IVR. That has nothing to do wih the customer service representative.

    JY 11 Jun at 21:56