You Have Your Net Promoter Score – What Next?

 In Business, Methods, Services, Thought

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is based on a single question, typically included in a survey or sent as a single-question email: 

On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?”

Does this sound or look familiar? You go to the movies and the next day you get an email asking you the NPS question. You leave a website and pop-up asks, “before you go, how likely are you to…” You leave a store with a newly purchased item and your phone buzzes with a text asking you the same question.  

This single question is useful to companies because it provides an ongoing pulse point to tell what customers are thinking about a product, service or brand at any point in time. Companies compare the percentage of promoters (ranking of 9 or 10) to the percentage of detractors (ranking of 0 – 6). Just subtract detractors from promoters and there it is – the Net Promoter Score, anywhere from -100 to 100. 

The challenge with an NPS score is that changes in NPS over time are rarely directly (or causally) attributable to specific actions or initiatives.That’s right, you may never know what is making your NPS rise or fall over time. You can celebrate an improvement in the score, but mostly you’ll be making assumptions and risk misinterpreting your successes or failures. Most NPS outreach never asks the most basic follow-up question, “why?”

This is where you need an outside partner to help you understand what’s driving your customer feedback and NPS scores. As consumer researchers, we’ve been answering the “why” behind NPS and other scores for years. We see NPS scores as a starting point, not as the end of an inquiry. 

For example, we recently fielded a brief survey for a financial services client. Included in the survey was the standard NPS question. Our client had been noticing a downward trend in NPS values with a key segment and engaged us to understand why. To do so, we invited clients from this segment for a series of online interviews. We created an interview guide aimed at uncovering the source of the low scores. Through just 16 interviews, we were able to identify the pain points in customer experience for those who gave a low NPS, and the best practices employed by customers who gave a high NPS. 

Through a series of targeted recommendations, we were able to offer our client marketing message enhancements, product improvement suggestions, and customer service programs to help get the NPS moving in an upward direction.

As you begin to explore how to improve your NPS and how to give it the depth of trust and insight you expect from any customer experience program, you’ll find that you need more than a follow-up question of “why?” You may need to do a deep dive to engage your customers in open-ended qualitative research methods like ethnographic or online interviews. Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t ignore your promoters: while it’s important to understand negative feedback from detractors, it may be more important to understand the sources of positive feedback. Studying promoters can help you understand and refine your target customer profile, your marketing messages, and identify workarounds and supporting solutions they may use to enhance their experiences with your product or service.
  • Don’t ignore your detractors: conversations with unhappy or lapsed customers can be difficult (that’s typically why you’d engage an outside party!) However, identifying the challenges you face can help you understand how to improve your offering, pinpoint key areas to change, and give you the confidence that you know what you need to do next and why. Additionally, showing disgruntled or lapsed customers that you care and are listening can go a long way toward converting them into promoters once you begin to implement change.

We guarantee that if you engage your promoters and detractors in a consistent and ongoing manner, you’ll start to see the NPS change you’re looking for, AND you’ll be able to explain why it changed and the steps you took to make it happen with confidence.

Learn about our NPS Consulting Services.

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