What Is Net Promoter Score?

Philip Cleave
March 15, 2022
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Keeping customers satisfied and loyal is a key aim for businesses everywhere. The belief being the more satisfied and loyal they are, the greater your overall business success.

Until recently, it was more difficult to put a quantifiable figure on the level of customer satisfaction and loyalty. This led to the invention of the Net Promoter Score® (NPS ®) metric.

What does NPS mean?

When it comes to the nps meaning, the nps definition is essentially a measure used to gauge an individual’s customer satisfaction and loyalty towards a company. It’s calculated by asking that customer the following question.

“On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/company to a friend or colleague?” where scores between (0-6) are your NPS detractors, scores between (7-8) NPS passives and scores between (9-10) your NPS promoters.

Once you have completed wording your NPS question and you survey your customers with it, you’re ready to collect your responses and calculate your NPS score.

You can calculate Net Promoter Score with the net promoter score formula. This helps you work out the difference between your proportion of promoters and detractors and generate a score of between -100 and 100.

You can calculate a relatively small dataset by simply subtracting the number of detractors from the number of promoters. This leaves you with a positive or negative number. You would then need to divide that answer by your total number of survey responses and multiply that by 100.

The number you are left with, rounded to the nearest whole number, should be between 100 and –100.

Generally, the higher your score the more desirable it is.

Transactional NPS vs relationship NPS

While it’s important to know what is NPS, it’s also useful to know about the different types of NPS.

There are two types of NPS, to help you better understand customers both at a macro and a micro level.

Relational NPS surveys

At the macro level relational NPS surveys are deployed on a regular basis, such as quarterly or annually. The aim is to get a periodic pulse of your customers and understand how they feel about your company. You can then use the data to check the year-on-year health of customer relationships. It can also provide a benchmark for company success.

Transactional NPS surveys

At the micro level transactional NPS surveys are issued after every interaction a customer has with your company. This could anything such as following an online purchase or support call. They can help you better understand customer satisfaction at a more granular level and provide feedback about very specific topics.

See also: Transactional vs Relationship NPS

Who invented NPS?

The Net Promoter Score was created in 2003, by Fred Reichheld, a partner at Bain & Company. This was to provide a better way of measuring how well an organisation treats the  people whose lives it impacts. It can also help you to measure how well organisations generate loyalty among their customer base.

Interestingly as organisations developed and shared their experiences with Net Promoter Score, NPS evolved into much more than a metric. So, much so, that today some of the best loyalty-leading companies use the Net Promoter System, as a management system to foster a customer-centric approach that helps guide everything they do.

Who uses Net Promoter Score?

There’s no ideal company type that benefits more than others when it comes to using the Net Promoter Score system.  This is because it can help any company in any industry build customer loyalty and achieve growth. So much so, that at least two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 use the Net Promoter Score. This includes most or all financial service companies, airlines, telecom companies, retailers, and others.

Ideally, you want to achieve as high an NPS score as you can.

What is considered a good nps score?

It really depends on the methodology you use to calculate NPS.

There are two main methodologies to help measure the strength of your NPS score. The first, the absolute NPS approach, looks to measure how strong your NPS score is regardless of your industry (you can use our online NPS calculator to identify your score). The second relative NPS method, seeks to determine what a good NPS score is with respect to your industry.

Absolute NPS method

At the most basic level any Net Promoter Score, above zero is seen as acceptable, as it implies that you have more promoters than detractors. NPS scores over 50 are viewed as good, with those above 70 viewed as outstanding and rare.

Here’s a useful breakdown of NPS scores, that can help guide you with how well your own business is doing if you measure your performance using the absolute NPS method:

– 100-0. Anything zero or in minus indicates that the majority of people interacting with your product or brand are having a bad experience. They are really unhappy with your company and are likely to be telling others to avoid your goods and services.

1-30. Is an acceptable range to be in as it means you have slightly more promoters than passives and detractors. However, if you’ve scored in this range, it means there’s still many opportunities for you to improve.

31-50. This is the range where most companies tend to reside. A company with scores in this range places value on a quality customer experience and is generally delivering it with a solid group of promoters’ keen to recommend their brand to others.

50-70. Any companies that score in this range are doubling down on customer experience. Some of the most loved brands have an NPS in this range. It means that they have a larger than average group of promoters, who are sharing their positive experiences with their personal networks.

71-100. The Holy Grail of NPS, which is rarely attainable. Businesses scoring in this range are thought to be among the absolute best in their industry.

Relative NPS method

The second way to measure the value of your NPS score is to compare it relative to others in your own industry. Benchmarking in this way, helps you understand your own place in the marketplace.

However, when you choose to benchmark yourself against others, you need to be aware that average scores can vary widely across industries.

For example, some industries are known to deliver less than satisfactory customer experiences, but they continue to thrive despite having low scores. This can happen in uncompetitive markets, where a company with very few rivals provides a critical service. Think of businesses such as utilities and cable providers.

In contrast, NPS is vital for companies in other industries whose very existence could be threatened if they were unable to deliver a high-quality differentiated experience. These companies either operate in highly competitive markets and must compete on providing a differentiated experience, or their core product is literally all about delivering an experience such as a music venue promoter or luxury hotel chain.

To reinforce this point, look at the widely fluctuating average NPS score for different industries in the graph below.

Image courtesy of https://www.retently.com/blog/good-net-promoter-score/

NPS survey best practices

Despite the wide variance of NPS scores, it’s still valuable to turn more customers into avid promoters of your company or brand, no matter what industry you operate in. Ultimately, you can see this with the best performing companies who continually strive to improve their own customer experiences.

However, to get the greatest value from the NPS surveys you issue and your subsequent NPS score, you need to adopt some net promoter score best practices into your processes. This includes having a clear strategy about how, where, when and what information you should be collecting from your customers. Here ares some NPS best practices to think about:

Send your survey at the best time for your customers

This will depend on the type of feedback you’re looking to gather, and whether it’s transactional or relational. Timing and frequency are key here.

If we look at transactional feedback first, then you might need to consider some different scenarios. To get the best feedback from a customer after they’ve just spoken to you on the phone or you’ve just resolved a support ticket for them, you want to get that opinion as soon as possible. In contrast, if you’re after their feedback following a purchase, you want to give them ample time to experience a product or service first.

With regards to relational feedback, you’re more interested in a customer’s relationship with your organisation over time. Subsequently, you’d be better off to schedule the issuing of your NPS surveys on a regular monthly, quarterly, six-monthly or annual basis.

Issue your NPS survey to the right number of customers

When it comes to your net promoter score questionnaire it’s important that you get responses from the right number of customers.

There are a few things you need to think about in relation to this. Firstly, not everyone is going to respond to your request, so you will need to send it out to a larger group. You may also need to ensure that the sample you get back includes some key segments that you’re trying to cover off in your customer base. This might include criteria such as gender, age, location or any other characteristics you deem as important and specific to your customers. Try to ensure your sample is large enough to encompass all segments of your customer base.

It’s also important to allocate enough time so that you can respond to customers that give you feedback. If a customer recounts having a terrible experience with you, you will need to follow this up with them and see what you can do to rectify the situation. Consider sending your survey in batches, to give you enough time in-between to follow up with your respondents.

Employ your best methods to send NPS surveys

One of the simplest and most effective ways to issue an NPS survey is through automated emails. This can work well for both transactional and relational feedback, through an automated set up, either as a result of a transactional trigger, such as a purchase or phone call, or on a regularly scheduled basis. Doing this helps ensure that you can be consistent when collecting NPS data.

You can also increase your response rate by letting people know upfront how long it will take to complete. You could make things even simpler for your customers by embedding the survey question in your email.

Test your NPS survey

Planning is good, but there’s still no substitute for real-life data. So, when you’re issuing your survey, think about using a couple of different questions, subject lines or topics to see what gives you the best NPS response rate.

Using A/B testing in this way can allow you to tweak and improve your surveys and emails over time, so you end up including the best NPS questions. Ultimately, this will lead to better response rates and more feedback that you can use to improve your customers’ experiences.

Personalise where possible

If you already know a little about who you’re contacting with your survey request, you might want to consider using this information to personalise your survey invitation.

Including the customer’s first name in the subject line can help grab their attention and increase their likelihood of opening your email. Research suggests that this can help boost open rates by up to 37%. Think about including relevant details of the product or service they purchased too, to provide additional interest and encouragement for recipients.

Consider incentives

Another effective way to boost peoples’ interest and response to your NPS survey is to incentivise them.

To do this, consider a reward roughly equivalent to the time and effort your respondents put into providing feedback. The benefit of NPS surveys is that they’re short and don’t require large amounts of time or effort from your customers. So, generally you shouldn’t need to provide a costly incentive to elicit their responses.

Share the feedback with your entire team

Your customer experience and steps to improve it are dependent on buy-in and input from many of your business teams. These can range from marketing and product to engineering and sales. Therefore, it’s vital that everyone understands your customers’ feedback trends and are on board with your strategies for resolving them.

The best way to achieve this is to regular share NPS feedback from key customer touchpoints with your teams. This will help ensure they always know the most critical areas they need to keep improving.

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