How to Improve Your Business with a Net Promoter Score Survey
Do you know what your most loyal customers think you’re doing right? How about your critics? Do you know where you’re missing them?
Net Promoter Score surveys boost customer loyalty and identify potential areas for improvement. Good reviews travel fast and bad reviews even faster. Using surveys can help you get ahead of the criticism and maximize the compliments.
What is a Net Promoter Score?
Most simply, NPS boils down to a single question and a straightforward formula:
“How likely are you to recommend this product?”
Answers are scored on a 10 to 0 scale. Ten means “very likely” and 0 “not likely at all.”
NPS = Highest scores (9 & 10) minus the lowest scores (0-6).
Determine the percentage of respondents in three areas.
- The Promoters: Respondents who scored you as 9 or 10
- The Passives: Respondents who checked boxes 7 or 8
- The Detractors: Respondents who gave you a score of 0 – 6
For the sake of example, let’s say that in your most recent survey, 67% of those surveyed gave you Promoter scores, 13% gave you Passive scores, and 20% turned their thumbs down as Detractors. To determine your final score, get rid of the Passive scores, then subtract the Detractors from the Promoters. In this example:
67% – 20% = 47.
Your NPS would be 47. According to the NPS survey website, “The Net Promoter Score measures customer experience and predicts business growth.” As you consider your North Star Metric, put NPS into the mix. It might be your lead number.
But don’t look at the number the way you might look at a score on a test from middle school. You must compare your NPS against two other numbers. First, compare it to the benchmarks for your industry. For example, if your SaaS product supports the auto insurance industry, an NPS of 47 beats the industry average of 43. However, if you’re a manufacturer of tablet computers, you have some room for improvement. The industry NPS is 56.
In short, NPS survey results give you a pulse on client happiness based on a single score. They represent how likely a client is to recommend you to a colleague or friend. But you can do so much more if your survey is built with a results-oriented strategy.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the first step in creating an NPS survey is to define your strategy.
Use NPS as a way to know your customers better — which should be a central component of your marketing strategy. This step is often overlooked in B2B tech because the industry can become more focused on impressing investors and potential suiters than we are on winning customers. When you put your customers first, you drive revenue, and eventually, increase your valuation. So, get to know your customers through NPS or other surveys.
Five Steps to Define Your NPS Strategy
1. Ask the Right Question
“How likely are you to recommend this [insert the company, product, workspace, etc. you want to measure] to a friend or colleague?”
This is the basic survey question used to measure NPS. You’ll find it in this simple form on SurveyMonkey as one of your basic options. You can also use it to create your own survey in Google Forms, through your HR integration software like Gusto, or on a CRM landing page like HubSpot offers.
It’s a great question— easy to ask and easy to answer, straightforward both in the composition and in the response. You must ask the question directly and you must provide a 0–10 answer option, with 0 always being at the Not At All Likely end and 10 being the best possible score. Why 0–10? Because this scale is the industry standard for measuring NPS, and you want to be able to compare your results to the scores of your peers. You can still gather valuable results with an adjusted scale, but you lose the benefit of industry comparisons.
The follow-up questions get trickier. What should you ask and how many follow-up questions are you allowed? NPS itself is a great example. NPS was created by Fred Reichheld, a Bain Fellow and founder of Bain & Company’s Loyalty Practice. NPS embeds their own podcast survey right on their homepage:
This links to the fundamental NPS survey question — and notice what comes immediately after:
Always create space for free-form feedback. What do you really want to know about your product/company/workplace? A specifically-worded question is more likely to gather meaningful feedback. The Net Promoter System Podcast feedback has several pages of follow-up questions, while the SurveyMonkey template asks for basic respondent demographics (gender and ethnicity for example).
Some examples of follow-up questions are:
- What did we get right?
- What did you like the most?
- What could we have done better?
- What features do you wish the product had?
- Why did you choose 9?
Keep in mind that “rewarding” those customers who were kind enough to complete the survey by overwhelming them with multiple questions could turn them off. Strategize your questions to maximize your users’ time.
2. Ask the Right People
You’ve got your question, but who should you ask? NetPromoterSystem.com asks everyone. One of its follow-up questions asks how many minutes of the podcast were played before answering the survey; “None” is an option, so truly anyone can respond.
Perhaps your survey targets your employees. You’ve changed the compensation plan, exchanged paid holidays for more vacation time, or eliminated the company picnic. Did you accomplish what you needed to without sacrificing morale? Would your employees recommend your company as a workplace to their friends? The open-ended follow-up questions can help you determine if your changes were effective. Surveying before a change gives you a baseline for measuring efficacy.
At Golden Spiral, our senior leadership sends out a monthly survey through Gusto. They ask the team a small handful of questions each month, including the NPS question for our team: “I would recommend Golden Spiral as a great place to work.”
Most of us want feedback from our users and their decision-makers. Your follow-up questions in this case should clearly ask about the specific features, headaches, time saved, and related aspects of your product. Are you surveying following a launch or upgrade? Ask about the process as well as the product.
How many surveys should you conduct to generate reliable data? It’s unlikely that everyone will respond, but you need enough responses to accurately gauge your NPS. After all, the goal is to use the survey data to reassess your product, company, workplace, or even your company goals. Those are huge potential impacts to your business, so make sure you’re asking the right number of the right people. In other words, there’s no magic number of surveys except the number that will make you feel confident in the results.
Identifying who to ask will guide you to ask the right way, at the right time.
3. Ask at the Right Time
Regular intervals? After launches or upgrades? Upon purchase? It’s important to ask your questions at the right time.
Did you release a new product? Ask for feedback soon (but not too soon; users need time to become familiar with the product) after launch, after the honeymoon period, and again after some proficiency has been established.
Customers tend to get frustrated when bombarded with surveys. If you decide that a regular schedule fits your needs, consider limiting your surveys to once per quarter.
A critical part of your strategy will be responding to those surveyed and acting on the results. If you’ve chosen to survey 300 users every month, have a solid plan in place for realigning your efforts with the expected 50ish results and contacting all unhappy respondents (and some very happy ones) before the next survey starts.
4. Ask the Right Way
Now you have your questions and you know who to ask and when, how are you going to survey them? Will you send an email or use an in-app survey?
If you have a question for any visitor to your site, design your survey to be user-launched directly on the screen, such as NetPromoterSystem.com. Another option is to send the survey via email, allowing you to target certain customers.
Interested in knowing what makes your top 10 clients continue to use your services? Want to know why loyal customers last year have fallen off your active list this year? An email launch enables you to ask the right question to the right customers by segmenting your list.
If you sell a SaaS product, asking for feedback directly inside the software or app is a fantastic method for collecting product feedback.
You can also choose to do both in-app and emailed surveys to potentially increase your response rate.
5. Act on the Results
You’re about to find out how many users would recommend your product – and how many would not. What will you do with this information?
Contacting ALL Detractors is non-negotiable if you want to avoid negative social media attention. As a matter of fact, 90% of consumers read an online review before visiting a business (or their website). And, they trust them just as much as their friends — 88% of consumers trust an online review (from a total stranger!) as much as a personal recommendation. Your contact could actually turn a Detractor into a Passive supporter – and a conversation with the right person might resolve the issue. Don’t underestimate the power of closing this loop with unhappy customers.
Also consider contacting your Promoters — those who score you a 9-10 and are willing to refer others and fuel growth. Promoters are the group of individuals you’d want to reach out to about leaving an online review. Craft an email to this delightful group and ask them just that. You may even feel the need to incentivize them with a contest or small gift card. These users can also become integral parts of your marketing strategy by contributing to successful case studies. One of the most difficult parts of writing case studies is actually finding the right clients to speak to. Those who score you as a 9 or 10 are your ideal points of contact for a case study. Once you have your list of happy clients, determine what makes them similar and what makes them different. Variety will help you cast a wider net when meeting with prospective clients.
Put Your NPS to Work
Now you’re ready for the exciting part of creating an NPS survey: putting the data to work on your bottom line.
Go to NPSBenchmarks.com and plug in your industry to see where your company stands.
Doing better than your peers? Do you know why? Understanding your success with clients is equally as important as knowing why some customers are unhappy.
The best way to make meaningful interpretations of your data is to engage all levels of your organization to review and respond to your survey results. Remember, you created this survey as part of your marketing strategy, so be sure to use it to your advantage — and to start planning your next survey.
Once you’ve wrapped up all the planning, you’re ready to create your NPS survey, right? You can build one yourself, buy off the shelf, or work with a trusted partner to create a truly custom survey tailored to your needs. Utilize your marketing automation software to thank and follow up with survey respondents or engage a company to do it for you.
If your product or company is struggling in an area, feedback is one of the best ways to discover how to improve. If things are going well, survey responses show you gaps to close and point you toward future opportunities. Companies that listen and dialog with their customers and potential customers always have an advantage over those that just hammer away with their own plans. Try a Net Promoter Score survey this year or augment your current surveys to gather even more information.