“Net Promoter Score” – New Minefield for Bottom Line of Doctors/Lawyers?

Bad review waiting to happen

Unhelpful Employee

If you are a regular internet user, you know how internet is helping billions of people around the world make better decisions on their purchases. Customers like to check online reviews before they buy stuff and that trend is still on the rise. Customers read online expert reviews in text format and also watch videos where experts are reviewing products. In addition to that, customers like to give their own feedback based on their experience with the business, its product and services. Jointly, all these things outline an image of the business for other customers to see before they buy anything from this business.


A Story That Could Cost Jobs But Save Businesses

I like to tell my own personal stories and anecdotes to help put things into perspective for my audience. If you are a dentist, which I consider to be a healer just like a DC, or an MD, then you realize the importance of “fire support” when it comes to the front desk and dealing with the minefield of emotional patients, the sick, the infirm, and their grieving families. The reason I mentioned dentist, is because the lady at the front desk, and I observed this myself, is very pushy, bossy, lacks empathy and is altogether unhelpful, especially when it came to dealing with my wife in particular. Like most kids, our son had some cavities, and we were arranging an appointment to get fillings, and the lady at the front desk simply did not want to accommodate my wife’s schedule.  Of course my wife is very humble and meek, so she graciously ex-filtrated herself from showing any angst towards the downright hostile manner in which the woman at the front desk had treated her.

  • The Unhelpful/Hostile Assistant

How do I know the “bitchy” dentist’s assistant could have helped my wife with an appointment that would have been convenient? Because as soon as we ordered copies of our son’s dental records from the dentist in writing, certified mail, return receipt requested (in other words, “you’re fired.”), the front desk lady left us a desperate voice message that she would now be able to arrange a more convenient appointment for our 7 year old son to see the dentist, and there was no reason to order the records (she probably just didn’t want to make copies.)

  • We Boycotted Yelp! To Find a Good Dentist

Of course we did not return the desperate phone call, the medical jacket was mailed to us, and rather than use Yelp!, which neither of us trust, we both started phoning friends from our school with kids, till we found a dentist that had a STAFF that treated them decently. In fact, we are even willing to drive further, since we just wanted a good dentist and local was less important than quality of service. But imagine if I had written about and outed this dentist on Yelp! We have already seen the lengths people will go through to bury or rid themselves of negative Yelp! reviews,


For the Legal and Medical Profession, NPS Could Spell Doom

My above example of the totally unhelpful receptionist is not limited to dentists. Licensed professionals have a tendency of surrounding themselves with abrasive personalities to help them administer their offices. This is just a fact of life. It is and has always been the weak link in liaising with the public. Prior to social media and the new Google promoted review system, people would just find another lawyer, or doctor, and that would be their “negative review.” But now reviews are basically a great “revenge system,” that allows the little guy to try and recapture publicly, what dignity he or she lost in the private setting of a professional’s office, up until that point.

people generally, at least when it comes to doctors and lawyers, don’t log in to talk about their positive experiences.

  • The Emotional Impact To Spur a Positive Review of a Licensed Professional Usually Needs to Be Truly Amazing

One of the reasons that my wife and I don’t bother with review sites, and actually treat online sites with positive reviews as “gamed” is that people generally, at least when it comes to doctors and lawyers, don’t log in to talk about their positive experiences. It goes against human nature, unless there was a truly human connection beyond the services that had been provided. Many of us Gen Xers in California remember “Fred Rated,” and Cal Worthington and “his dog spot” commercials.

Those guys left an emotional imprint that was positive to a consumer, and also imprinted in the mind of the consumer that these men were true “celebrities.” A gimmick like a free umbrella hat in the Youtube example to the left, may have been enough to promote that positive review under the standards of today’;s virtual world. But that is the type of emotional impact it takes in order for most consumers to take the time to write a review for a doctor, lawyer, or even a used car lot. I am an expert at this, having been in sales and marketing, I know first hand that people buy from you ONLY if they “like and trust you.” Spend a few minutes chatting with Tom Hopkins and you will understand exactly what I mean.

  • Endorphin and Reviews

Food too is always a way to turn bad service into a positive review. The chemicals, called endorphin are released from your brain when you take opiates, drink a beer, or have food, all in varying amounts. Endorphin signals a pleasure response in the human and mammalian brain. So naturally a regular Yelper might be peeved at the server, but feel great when they “check in” on their Smartphone. Lawyers and doctors may want to consider baking cookies, or offering something that triggers an emotional response in their patients/clients. OR they could simply get out of ego maniac “I have a professional degree and license” mode, and become truly DYNAMIC.

That would definitely brand them as being different right? I will never forget my childhood doctor who drew pictures of bunny rabbits with his pen on the “ahh stick” and who played magic tricks with candy that he miraculously pulled from my ears. Amazing I still remember “Doctor Lamb,” some 40 years later, INSTANTLY. Is this sinking in?

  • How NPS Could Destroy You Unless You are All Things to All People

While these online reviews are greatly helpful, a new method that already exists could easily make its way into the industry and trump the online reviews. It is called the NPS – net promoter score. From the name it is already clear what it really means and what purpose it would serve.

Here is some basic information about Net Promoter Score:

  • What Exactly is Net Promoter Score?

Net Promoter score is a score given to a business by its consumers. The range of this score is from -100 to 100. This is a big enough range to allow people to rate a business however they want. You must have come across products, applications or services where you would have wanted to give the company a score in negative. NPS allows you to do that easily.

  • Benefits Of NPS

There are many benefits from the perspective of a learning machine of using this type of scoring. The benefits are not just the intrinsic benefits, but they are benefits when compared to the current method of reviewing products and giving them points in terms of 5 stars.

Here are some realities of using the NPS:

  • It is no surprise to see many companies struggling to get reviewed on the internet and still managing to get only a handful of them after months and months of struggle. On the other hand, the most popular companies continue to get reviews in thousands. Here, it becomes nearly impossible to read all of the reviews. NPS is an easy way of giving a particular score to the business without typing stuff out. The quickness of this method will encourage more and more people to give ratings to companies even if they are new in the market.
  • Looking at the current rating done using 5 stars it has been realized by people that the 5-star rating does not give a clear picture of the business. Not to mention the many consumers who wish to give a company more than 5 stars or zero star. With such a huge range available for scoring, people will be able to express their feelings and experience with the company in a better way. The final picture will be a clear picture of how the business is performing.
  • Getting reviews is quite a task for many businesses and they have to take all the measures they can to make it possible to get reviews from customers. With NPS the companies can provide a system on other websites and even on-ground sites through which consumers can rate them. Based on the scores businesses are getting they can improve on the aspects they are getting low scores for.

The true benefits of a system can only be known when it is implemented so not much can be said about NPS for now.

The Big Problem In Using NPS

The biggest problem in using NPS right now, is that there is a very minute population that actually knows about NPS. Even the businesses are not aware of this particular system right now. If businesses won’t promote it, public will never use it. However, there are other similar systems that are currently in use and people like those systems. But you know about it because you follow the Circle of Legal Trust.

NuVal food scoring system can be quoted as an example here. This particular system provides consumers a range of 1 to 100. The worst food item will get 1 point whereas the best food item will get 100 points.  The points are given to the foods based on their nutrient factors. The richer they are with proteins and the safer they are to use, the more points they will get. Items that contain harmful substances and fewer nutrients are given low scores. A fruit like apple would get a score of 100 at NuVal food scoring system but a can of carbonated drink might get something around 10 or 1 on the scale.

How Will Licensed Professionals Benefit From NPS?

The future of NPS is not known right now for us. But if my above example of the typical cynical, aloof receptionist is scored, how long do you think that dentist will stay in practice if she is an online based company? Totally unexpected things have happened in the past and they will continue to happen.

No one ever knew in 2006 that a thing called “smartphone” would have ever come into the world, and become world’s lifestyle within a few years. No one had ever thought that Apple would become a leader company in making phones when it was just selling laptops, iPods and desktop computers. NPS system is nowhere to be seen today but it could be the next business scoring system of the future.

If this becomes true, here is how businesses and professions will benefit from it:

  • Businesses will have to work on their products, services and overall brand image in order to get better NPS.
  • The NPS score of a company will be a reflection of its brand and the quality of its services. Businesses will be able to display their NPS on their buildings, websites etc. to instantly give consumers an idea of their status. With a good score to display, businesses will be able to feel proud and confident while offering services.
  • It will be easy for business owners and managers to conduct meeting with their staff and tell them to offer great services while basing their meetings on a system that is understandable for everyone.

It is still not known as to whether NPS will ever be able to make it or not, but lawyer and doctors should already implement this system and train their staffs to have a human face, because it will be useful for them whether it becomes a future scoring system or not.  I would also recommend sending employees to Tony Robbins or Tom Hopkins seminars and lead tailgate meetings in dynamism and positive mental attitude. Maybe even consider a corporate wellness program similar to the Japanese that includes stretching and even something like Thai Chi. Your staff and your bad attitude as a leader and a professional in leading them are the weak links that will kill your online business, today, and into the future.

Posts by Michael Ehline

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