The Great Pause

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

One of the most remarkable side effects of our global quarantine has been the pause. We’ve stopped rushing, moving and polluting. The blue skies over New Delhi and the clear canals of Venice are visual reminders of the opportunity we now have to evaluate what we want to do after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pause taken by companies has come at a heavy cost in jobs lost, financial hardship and worry. No one would have wished that, but this moment does offer companies too a chance to contemplate the future. What will they be when Covid-19 has passed? What will they stop doing? Were their old goals and aspirations enough?

As clearing skies show us the impact of minimizing our carbon footprint, how companies treat employees and customers in this moment establishes their human footprint. Covid-19 has revealed the true nature of many companies. Out of a concern for the safety and health of employees and customers, Apple, for example, closed stores early and is now carefully reopening. I believe Apple will be rewarded with even greater loyalty from customers and employees.

To my way of thinking, the Net Promoter Score® helps companies improve their human footprint by clarifying how they affect the lives they touch, of both customers and employees. As I’ve written before, the metric can be seen as measuring how a company enriches the life of its critical stakeholders. That, in turn, says a lot about how well they fulfill their role and responsibility in society.

In the current Fortune 500 issue, the article “The Simple Metric That’s Taking Over Big Business” examines why at least two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 use the Net Promoter Score. In the article, one-time critics like J.D. Power and Gallup describe the usefulness of NPS®, and the piece rightly argues that customer comments are critically important, not just the number itself.

“It’s more than a metric,“ Michelle Peluso is quoted as saying. “One could use the word ‘religion.’” Peluso oversees NPS at IBM, where some 40,000 people use it.

In the Net Promoter Score, I do see some echo of the way religion values what’s deeply important in life. Companies use NPS to try to establish how well they’ve treated their customers and employees. Given today’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we can ponder this feedback with renewed clarity. Net Promoter® scores have generally jumped upward—for both customers and employees.  

This moment presents an opportunity for all of us and all companies to reconsider our primary purpose, to get back to core principles. The pollution of “habit” and the apparently “urgent” has been cleared aside.

I wonder if you’ve seen customer and employee NPS surge in your business, what you believe it implies, and whether there are lessons to be learned about navigating a better road ahead.

Related Insights


As the COVID-19 virus spreads and the human cost rises, the sizeable economic impact of the pandemic is only starting to become apparent. But companies that provide reassurance and support to anxious customers and employees could minimize the damage to their businesses. 

Net Promoter®, Net Promoter System®, Net Promoter Score®, NPS® and NPS Prism® are registered  trademarks and service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.


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