Basics of NPS Before Sending Surveys
If you are not familiar with NPS yet, it's a simple way to (1) get very high quality and actionable customer feedback and (2) get a predictive indicator of customer behavior.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through several key factors that will ensure your success when implementing NPS.
Before you start sending surveys to customers, think about these key questions:
1. WHY are you sending a survey in the first place?
2. WHAT questions do you ask and in what order?
3. HOW do you analyze the results of the survey?
4. WHO are you sending your survey to?
5. WHERE can you make passive customers into active promoters?
6. WHEN do you send the surveys?
Most people send surveys for the same reason: to gain information. The problem is:
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” ~ Steve Jobs
This way of thinking is a chicken-and-egg problem. You go in with preconceived ideas of what your customers want, and you either give them five choices to rank, or you ask non-actionable open-ended questions that tell you little (if they are answered).
So, why send surveys if gaining knowledge is only a secondary or even tertiary benefit?
To measure and build customer loyalty.
A survey doesn’t need to be a passive “read-only” data-collection technique. A survey can spur your customers to talk about your product with their friends or leave a review. The right survey can create one-on-one relationships with customers who would usually ignore other attempts to connect. A survey can even increase sales and conversions or minimize churn.
The most common mistake people make when building surveys is asking way too many questions. How many questions are too many? Anything more than two. Everybody is busy. Of course, you would like to send out 40 pages of detailed questionnaires and have people tell you what your product should do, but nobody has the time to fill out long surveys.
You need to make your survey as disarming as possible by asking JUST ONE KEY QUESTION: How likely is it that you would recommend my brand/product/service to a friend or colleague? (Answers are based on a 0-10 scale).
Responding to this question takes just a moment of people’s time and is no burden at all. That’s why NPS has a reputation of being one of the highest converting surveys. It’s so quick and easy to respond to that it gives you the best chance of getting the most responses back. But I said no more than two questions! What’s the second question? It is: What’s the most important reason for giving us that score?
Caveat: you do not ask that question upfront. When running an NPS campaign, you need to make it look like you are asking only one question—the “likelihood to recommend” question. Only those who answer the first question, providing their 0-10 scores, should see the second question.
That way—even if your recipients do not answer your second, free-form, question—you still capture their scores and have the ability to close the loop.
One more point: do not be tempted to add any more questions. Remember, data collection is only a tertiary goal.
Also, it’s important that you state the second question in a free form.
To calculate your NPS score, you calculate the percentage of people who gave you a 9 or a 10 (your loyal enthusiasts) and subtract from it the percentage of people who gave you a 0 to 6 (your detractors). If you’re wondering about a score of 7 or 8, neither counts for or against you because they are too tepid.
For example, let’s say you received the following scores as responses: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Only two out of 10 were enthusiasts (20%), and six out of 10 were detractors (60%). That makes your NPS score -40%.
Although interesting, your NPS score isn’t actually that important. You should keep track of it and make sure it keeps getting better over time, but don’t fret over the absolute number. Net Promoter is not an exercise in statistics; rather, it’s about emotion and connection to your brand.
After all, your goal with this survey isn’t just gathering intelligence—it is building customer loyalty. The most important part of analyzing your results is how you respond to these surveys.
Read through every response and create trends from the responses. For example, if the feedback is: “I love how easy it is to get started, but I can’t remember to keep using the product,” you might tag that response with two categories: easy setup, forget to use. Using Promoter.io can help you keep track of and analyze these responses instead of messing with complex spreadsheets or other tools not built for the job.
Once you tag every response with some pre-defined trends (price, customer service, quality, ease of use, etc.), you can start spotting trends among similar categories consistently brought up in the answers.
If your goal is to build customer loyalty, that loyalty must be earned. Deep understanding of your customers, or audience, and what they want is of critical importance. Many people get this part wrong.
For example, you might use simple demographics to try to understand who your customers are. Things like gender, age, and location might be somewhat interesting facts, but they are far from the most important and actionable information.
A far more useful way to understand your audience is to find out:
Their biggest problems
Their biggest fears
Their biggest frustrations
Their highest hopes
Their wildest dreams
Their greatest aspirations
It’s much easier to sell someone on their dreams and solutions to their problems than it is to sell them on feature sets. So, understanding whom you are sending your survey to should always be a priority.
If you don’t have a grasp of this information yet, NPS can be a great way to begin conversations with people and to learn more about how to conduct and analyze your surveys. For example, if someone responds as a detractor, you could follow up with that person by sending a personalized note like this one:
“Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my question. I wish more people were as honest and straightforward as you. I am sorry that my product let you down though. I strive to make it better. Can I ask you one more question? What’s your #1 single biggest challenge growing your business right now?”
Notice that not only are you engaging with this unhappy customer in a positive and complimentary way, but you are also gathering valuable intelligence that they might have never shared with you had you asked them about it upfront.
This is how customer loyalty is created—one relationship at a time, with care and thought.
If you preferred to focus on finding product defects instead of customer demographics, you could write a slightly different email:
“I really appreciate your honest response, and I hate that I let you down this time. Can I ask you one more question? What would be the #1 thing I could do to the product that would make it more likely to earn your recommendation in the future?”
This kind of message also works really well for passives.
Notice that not only are we getting direct product feedback with this question, but we are also planting the seed in the responder’s mind that maybe when they see this survey next time, they would rate us higher and be more likely to recommend us others.
The real magic of NPS happens when someone responds as a self-identified promoter (with a score of 9-10). If they are telling you that they are extremely likely to promote your product or service, they have willingly opened the door.
Imagine getting a personalized email like this one after rating a product a 10:
“I am so flattered that you gave me a 10! You made my day. If it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle, there is one thing that you could do that would make the service a lot easier for other people to find. Would you be able to leave a brief review on Amazon? Here’s the URL…”
A lot of people would be happy to leave reviews for your product, but they either forget to or are prompted to do so before they had the chance to use the product. They just need that extra reminder.
Plus, when you send a personalized email response after someone takes your survey, it lets them know that their response was read and was important. It will reinforce their loyalty and keep them active and engaged for other emails or surveys you might send them.
Net Promoter Scores can be tracked over time. By using Promoter.io, you can automatically send the surveys on a daily schedule so that your entire list isn’t emailed at the same time. We recommend that you don’t send an NPS survey more than 4 times a year to the same person.
Once people respond, make sure you keep track of your interactions with them during the important follow-up period. You never want to keep asking the same person to review your product on Amazon. So, keep close logs if you plan on surveying quarterly.
In addition to your regularly scheduled surveys, you can send NPS surveys shortly after the point-of-purchase or interaction.
Sending NPS surveys at the point-of-purchase has the advantage of people having their interaction with you still fresh in their minds. The disadvantage, however, is that they haven’t probably had a lot of time to interact with their purchase yet. That’s why, if you are a transactional business, it’s important for you to think about the nature of your product and to time the survey accordingly.
Finally, if you are running a recurring revenue business (as opposed to a transactional “buy-it-once” model), you might be prone to making a common mistake. It’s a bad idea to aim for quarterly engagements by sending large surveys all at once. You can capture a lot of feedback at one time with this method, but you end up with a “point-in-time” sentiment. That leaves you with long periods in-between surveys, making it impossible to measure customer sentiment and to understand how the changes you implement impact loyalty and behavior. A daily cadence of your surveys to a small set of customers, or even a monthly survey to a larger segment, provides much more value.