Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

Where are Australian businesses at with NPS?


The Net Promoter Score (NPS) has been around for some time but it has only become prominent in Australia in the last five to 10 years. I have found myself using it more in my role.

Having worked in London for 10 years as part of the Customer Practice within Deloitte, and more recently joining Optus Business to run Customer Experience and Insights, I believe that focusing on the customer conversation is an exciting space in any organisation.


Optus has a rich history with NPS. We probably have one of the most mature NPS programs across Australia. We’ve had a formal voice-of-the-customer program in place for the past eight years and that led to the use of NPS.

I get the sense different companies are at different levels of maturity when it comes to NPS. While there are things we can share with an established organisation, there are also new ways of thinking coming out of young companies and digital natives that we can learn from.

Right now, my focus is on the challenge of growing up and not growing old with NPS. When I joined Optus, it felt like we were at risk of growing old in the program. It had been around for a long time and people had heard the numbers. They stopped connecting the dots as to what the numbers really meant in terms of what our customers think of us.

For the last couple of years, we have been working to get the energy back into our NPS program and reconnecting our people to our customers’ perceptions.

NPS is more than just a number

NPS is a metric, but in the last couple of years, we’ve tried to talk a lot less about the number itself. The number you get in NPS is simply a reflection of the relationships you’ve got with your customers – we’ve put more of a focus on understanding what lives behind the number. What do customers think of us, what does that mean and what do we need to be doing for them differently?

Rather than being a numbers-driven program, how do we bring in more of the customer stories and use their words to see the challenges and opportunities? This has helped us get back to focusing on what customers want and it’s how we’re keeping the program young. By focusing on the customers behind the feedback, instead of thinking about the NPS number or the program itself, we are able to connect to that.

We’ve also launched a customer immersion program which sees our senior leadership group spending time in different roles across the organisation. Whether that’s our MD spending time on the service desk or the head of a product area spending time with a sales person, we’re looking right across the company to immerse our people in what it’s like to be an Optus customer. Our immersion program is about us sitting side by side with our people and doing what it takes to deliver for our customers. Connecting our people with what’s going on in our customers’ worlds is what will keep our NPS program fresh and give us the outcome we want.

Australian NPS versus the rest of the world

Here in Australia, there is some lag with how other global organisations are using NPS and delivering on the CX promise.

Working for Deloitte, I had the opportunity to lead a customer experience program for Christie’s, the auction house, in New York and I also led the Spectator Experience program for the London Olympics. This has given me the experience to see where CX is at around the world. Globally, there are some really exciting things happening, but Australia is probably a couple of years behind.

Working at the Olympics was an incredible experience. I was seconded to the Organising Committee and was there from the beginning where we had a vision of what we wanted the experience to be.

We worked on the end-to-end experience, right from people buying a ticket, leaving their house to go to London and experience the games and then get back home. It was incredible to see all the planning and theory come to life over such a short period of time. Those experiences on paper translated into the most amazing experience in person. You don’t often get opportunities like these, where you can turn theory into practice in such a high profile way. It was magical.

Who owns CX?

Companies that are good at CX are progressing beyond the need to have a single owner. Those that do customer focus really well understand there’s a role to be played by many people within the organisation, as well as various external parties. While you need a strong central voice in an organisation championing the cause, changing the way you deliver for customers isn’t something that can be achieved by a single function alone. Even at Optus, running the Customer Experience team sees us call on people right across the business, and everyone is accountable. I’ve also seen that extending outside of the company.

There’s a place for management consultants who do great transformation work right across our company and then bring a CX lens to the work. Equally, there are some niche players such as design companies and agencies that bring a fresh approach and more agility than some of the other consulting houses. That’s really useful too, but I wouldn’t think that it has to be one or the other.

This focus on delivering for customers is bigger than all of us. It’s not a case of a single entity having ownership – its collective action that really moves you to new places.

Does your business use NPS? How do you ensure you’re delivering above and beyond customer expectations? Please share your comments.

About Craig James – Associate Director, Customer Experience and Insights at Optus
Craig James has worked with both private and public sector clients to design and deliver growth and transformation strategies across customer facing functions.