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We often talk about wellness vendors competing against one another in a race to the bottom, with the very stable geniuses at Wellsteps, Interactive Health, Total Wellness, and Star Wellness in the lead. Of course, the equally stable geniuses at Wellness Corporate Solutions, Healthywage and Bravo can’t be counted out. There could be other candidates too. Keep in mind that wellness is a crowded industry, with many very stable vendors constantly trying to outgenius one another. (There are, of course, some excellent vendors out there too. Simply put the name of your vendor in the “search” box and see what pops up.)
However, we never talk about the wellness industry as a whole competing against other industries in a race to the bottom. Why not? Because it turns out that the wellness industry has already won that race. How do we know this? Simple. By looking at Net Promoter Scores. Net Promoter Scores are the most widely used, and considered the most valid, measure of user satisfaction. Let’s see how wellness compares to a benchmark of other industries.
The Benchmark: Where are other industries on the Net Promoter Score scale?
Here is a a screenshot of the Net Promoter Scores for the 20 largest US industries serving consumers. (Source: The Temkin Group, which sells comprehensive reports based upon the NPS.)
The worst performer of any industry is, not surprisingly, TV and internet services. The average for that industry is +2. Even so, we have Comcast and I love it. If you want to watch a show — say, Billions — you just literally say “Billions” and <presto> the show appears on your screen. Plus Comcast’s picture quality is now so sharp that every time Paul Giamatti realizes that Damian Lewis has outsmarted him again, you can almost see the steam coming out of his ears.
Nonetheless, the cable TV and internet services industry at least earns a positive score. It’s not that bad.
Where is the wellness industry on the Net Promoter Score scale?
On the other hand, the wellness industry is that bad, according to the data.
Wellness isn’t on the Temkin chart because, thankfully for America’s employees, it is not one of the 20 largest B-to-C industries. It is off the charts both literally, and also figuratively, because the wellness industry Net Promoter Score averages a minus-52 in the US. That’s 54 points lower than the next-lowest industry. (This does not include Quizzify, which is very highly regarded by employees. So much so that one of employees’ biggest complaints is, not enough quizzes.)
This isn’t us or one of the many other wellness skeptics doing the Net Promoter Score measurement. It’s the highly respected consulting firm WillisTowersWatson, whose comprehensive report covers all aspects of the industry.
This rating shouldn’t come as any surprise to people who read this blog, or for that matter people who read at all. Just last week we related a typical employee wellness story, and last year we reposted a few of the comments to the Slate article: “Workplace Wellness Programs Are a Sham,” My favorite, of course, is “I’d like to punch them in the face.”
And also just last week, yet another person — who used their full name — commented on a previous blog, complaining about their “untethered from reality HRA and biometric screen.”
Speaking of untethered from reality, here’s what a wellness vendor — VirginPulse — believes to be the case on their planet:
And there is Bravo, saying punitive wellness programs are:
“very popular and well received by the vast majority of employers and employees alike…”
My question to VirginPulse and Bravo is, where is this “87%,” and/or this “vast majority of employees” who love wellness, and insist on being pried, poked and prodded? We’ve looked in a number of places — here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here — and can’t find anyone.
Why this matters
We have a saying: “Wellness will make employees happy whether they like it or not.” In the real world, a minus-52 Net Promoter Score indicates that morale takes a big hit if you do wellness to employees instead of for them. (The Health Enhancement Research Organization concurs with us only on a few issues — the deleterious impact of wellness programs on morale is one of them. )
More importantly, employers, except for Quizzify’s customers and partners, are losing their “Safe Harbor” as of January for tying clinical wellness programs to large financial forfeitures. Aggrieved employees will have much greater recourse in the federal courts than they have today. As the Net Promoter Scores show, there is no shortage of aggrieved employees, and likely no shortage of attorneys willing to “assist” them in collecting a financial settlement.
There is also no shortage of expert witnesses here at They Said What? to support them. And we’ve never lost.