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Arguing the example

Have you ever completed a transaction on a mobile application and received a survey at the end of it that asks you, "How likely are you to recommend us to your friends?" which you can answer by selecting a number from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest indicating that you are very likely to recommend it to your friends.

This is a common method used by a lot of products too understand how happy their customers are and the score computed in this manner is called Net Promoter Score or NPS. It is a Net Promoter Score because it is simply counting the net promoters (people who are very likely to promote it) and subtracting the detractors (people who are very unlikely to promote it).

The NPS, though popular, has some product companies that look past it as they don't feel it is a good measure of customer happiness. And one of the popular arguments for that is that Facebook had an NPS of -14 during their biggest growth phase. That is, there were more people saying that they didn't like Facebook enough to ask their friends to start using it than there were that liked it, and yet, the user base of Facebook and the engagement with it's product features was growing exponentially.

Andy Rachleff talks about how such an argument against NPS doesn't hold much water by highlighting the difference between arguing the example and arguing the logic.

The Facebook NPS example is a case of arguing the example. NPS is not a great measure because I have an example where it was low and yet customers were very happy with the product.

And we end up making such arguments all the time. We conclude something generic based on an anecdote or an example (even when there maybe more than one such example). The fallacy in such arguments lies in the fact that these examples can be outliers.

If something didn't work in a handful of cases, it doesn't mean that it doesn't work at all.

Instead, when we argue by logic, we will argue by explaining why exactly something doesn't work. And when we argue by logic, it becomes clear which cases are outliers and which are not and where the trend lies.

When you are making an argument and trying to convince yourself or someone else, ask yourself if you're arguing the example or arguing the loogic.

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