The worst thing you can do with Net Promoter Score (the best measurement of customer sentiment out there) is also the most common thing that most people do.
Before I tell you the mistakes, let me paint you a picture...
You hear about NPS from somewhere, most likely from seeing another company running a campaign, so you get curious.
You poke around. You sign up for the first NPS service you find in Google, manually import tons of data, and finally send off surveys to your customers or users.
Then you sit back and wait for the score to come in. You get your score, don't really know what to do next, and forget about NPS because you think you are done.
Sound familiar? It's such a common story that I have heard it a million times now. And it's full of problems that results in absolutely no value to you or your organization.
If I just described you, here is what you're missing out on:
- Dramatically increased sales and revenue (from organic referrals and increased ARPU/LTV)
- Significant reduction in customer churn from proactively identifying customers/accounts who are likely to cancel in the short-term
- Turning passive consumers into active promoters of your business (they are susceptible to competition without strong engagement)
- Creating a new marketing machine from scratch
- Finding new business opportunities
- Discovering what new features or products will really move the needle
That's because you are not taking advantage of the best parts of the NPS system. It's like working out without a training plan. You don't just start lifting weights without knowing proper form or you could get seriously injured or simply see no measurable results.
Good NPS habits will give you exponentially more value from your customer engagement process. When you measure and act on NPS data correctly, you are implementing the best practices along with the standard techniques. Best practice NPS means doing the following:
- A daily feedback loop
- In-depth follow-ups and engagement
- Scoring over time
- Trend analysis (what is common among the open-text feedback)
- Segment analysis (how does sentiment differ by variations in the customer base)
- Mapping customer sentiment to revenue (short-term and long-term at-risk revenue, new revenue from promoters)
- Individual's historical sentiment trend
Let's briefly discuss each of these best practices.
A daily feedback loop
The true power of NPS is in the follow-up, not in the score. It's in talking to every single customer who replies to the survey and building a deeper relationship with them, which might or might not involve up-selling and cross-selling. But when you send all your surveys at once, you make it nearly impossible to spend enough time building those relationships.
Best Practice #1: For subscription and SaaS business models, sending out an NPS survey to each of your customers once per quarter, on a daily schedule is best (one survey every 90 days). That will ensure that you can create a daily feedback loop where you have time to respond to every single customer who takes the time to fill out your survey and that you have multiple touch points throughout the customer lifecycle.
For transactional business models, aim to survey the customer shortly after a purchase or event, but with enough time to use or reflect on the purchase. Optionally for larger and more important customers you can run a cadence of surveys, for example: 10 days post-purchase, 6 months post-purchase, 12 months post-purchase.
Brand and product sentiment can change thought the customer lifecycle so make sure you plan to understand how and why this might increase or decrease over-time.
In-depth follow-ups and engagement
When you send a survey and someone takes their time to respond to your survey, it's rude not to respond personally and thank them for their time. Even though that's what everyone else does. You could do an auto-responder, but that's almost just as bad as not responding at all. You are essentially halting the conversation there and ensuring you will not be juicing the potential for NPS any further.
Best Practice #2: Always follow-up personally with every single person who submits an NPS survey. At the very least, thank them for their score and any feedback they provided so they know you are not a robot. But ideally use it as an opportunity to learn more and show you're listening. Ask more questions. Build relationships. If they give you a score of 10, give them specific examples of ways they could promote your stuff to others. If they give you a score of 1, ask them what problem they have that isn't being solved or how you might earn that recommendation in the future.
Measure changes in score over time
You don't want to just send one NPS survey and never gather more data. The trend of your NPS score is far more important than the score itself. After all, customer sentiment changes constantly as I've mentioned, which is why regular touch points are critical. But on the other hand, if you are agile and keep adding features and functionality to your service, you don't want to be overwhelming your customers by sending the same customer a dozen different NPS surveys a year.
Best Practice #3: The best practice for tracking trends over time is to send any individual customers four NPS surveys per year. If you follow the once per quarter or 1% of your customers per day rule, it will automatically work out to re-send each customer four surveys per year.
Many people send an NPS survey, get their score, and think they are done right there. But the more time you spend with your data, the more you can learn from it. Then you can start prioritizing what you spend your time on before you send your next survey.
Best Practice #4: Get in the habit of tagging the NPS results so that you can segment and categorize them. That's how you can learn the top reasons people love or hate your product or service. You can prioritize creating a feature to address your weak areas and then over time watch how feedback for that segment improves.
Promoter provides two unique abilities here. Segment customers and sentiment by data you already have (we call these custom attributes) and drill-down into customer segments. We also allow you to apply trend tags based on open-feedback and apply sentiment to each so you get a clear picture of the drivers behind your promoters and detractors.
Individual's historical sentiment trend
Customer Relation Management (CRM) systems like Salesforce help salespeople track their interaction with customers. But these systems can be complex and if you're a small organization, you might not have a need for something that powerful yet. But if you could identify customers who were giving you progressively higher (or lower) scores, you would be able to predict ahead of time that things were going right (or wrong) and have time to fix it.
Best Practice #5: Since you should be sending 1% of your customers an NPS survey every day (which works out to 4 surveys per-year for each customer), you should be reviewing historical sentiment trends for your customers every year. Categorize them into three groups: customers whose scores are getting better, worse, and staying the same. Then take corrective action.
The Net Promoter Score is a system that can help you achieve many of your goals in running a business. Or it can just be a number that is measured and forgotten about. It is your choice. The customers at Promoter.io (where I work) that have fully integrated all of our suggestions have found it makes a significant and measurable difference to their bottom line. That's why we have worked so hard to make implementing these suggestions as easy as possible into our product.