Net Promoter Score Question Best Practices: How to Ask Them and How to Follow Up

nps follow up questions, closing the loop

The Net Promoter Score question provides one of the most effective tools for predicting customer loyalty and brand advocacy. It reflects both how enthusiastic customers are about your brand and how likely they are to recommend you to others. However, the value of NPS surveys depends on how you go about conducting them as well as what you do with the data you collect.

Here we’ll cover some best practices for getting the most out of your NPS surveys. After diving deeper into what the Net Promoter Score question is and what it tells you, we’ll cover some tips on how to ask the NPS question the right way and how to follow up after conducting an NPS survey. In the process, we’ll look at how technology can help you optimize the results you get from using NPS surveys.

What is the Net Promoter Score Question?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a key performance indicator used to measure customer loyalty by asking a single question about how likely customers are to recommend an organization, product or service to a friend or colleague. How high customers respond on a scale of 0 to 10 determines what percentage of customers are classified as Promoters, likely to promote your brand to others, and what percentage are classified as Detractors, likely to spread negative reviews. The net difference between Promoters and Detractors gives the Net Promoter Score system its name.

The Net Promoter Score Question

The question used to conduct an NPS survey follows the formula:

How likely is it that you would recommend [X] to a friend or colleague?

In this formula, X can represent a company, a product or a service. For example:

  • How likely is it that you would recommend the Acme Company to a friend or colleague?
  • How likely is it that you would recommend the Acme app to a friend or colleague?
  • How likely is it that you would recommend Acme’s website management service to a friend or colleague?

The phrase “friend or colleague” also may be modified to use variations such as “friend or family member” or “friend or co-worker.”

The exact wording of the Net Promoter Score question depends on what information you’re trying to elicit and to whom you’re asking the question. By varying the wording, you can gather information about customer loyalty to your brand, one of your products, one of your services, or even a more granular item such as a specific product feature. The wording also may vary depending on whether your market is a B2B or B2C niche.

The main Net Promoter Score question may be accompanied by a supplementary question that asks customers, “What are the primary reasons for the score you gave us?” This additional question allows the customer to express the reason for their score in their own words.

NPS Survey Answers

NPS surveys invite respondents to answer on a scale of 0 to 10. On this scale, an answer of 0 indicates that a customer is not at all likely to recommend your brand, product or service, while an answer of 10 indicates that a customer is extremely likely. Between these extremes are various gradations of likelihood to recommend you.

Additionally, your customers’ answers may include their replies to your open-ended question about the reasons for their answers.

How NPS is Measured

NPS survey answers are categorized as follows:

  • 9 or 10: customers who answer in this range are classified as “Promoters,” meaning that they are loyal about your brand, product or service and enthusiastic about recommending you to others
  • 7 or 8: customers who reply in this range are classified as “Passives,” meaning that they are satisfied with your brand, product or service but not enthusiastic enough to recommend you to others
  • 0 to 6: customers with responses in this range are classified as “Detractors” who are unhappy with your brand, product or service and are likely to discourage others from buying from you

NPS score is calculated by taking the percentage of customers who qualify as Promoters and subtracting the percentage who qualify as Detractors. This yields a score between -100 and 100. You would score -100 if all customers replied as Detractors, while you would score 100 if all customers replied as Promoters.

What constitutes a good NPS score varies by industry. In general, according to Bain & Company, which helped design the NPS system, any NPS score above 0 is good, while +20 or more is favorable, +50 is excellent and +80 is world class. However, to evaluate your results, you should research what average NPS scores are in your industry and you should track your own NPS data over time, with an idea toward raising your score.

In addition to your NPS score itself, you can extract measurable data from your customers’ explanations of the reasons for their answers. While your customers’ answers are expressed verbally rather than numerically, you can create categories for frequent answers and tally up what percentage of customers give a specific type of answer.

What NPS Tells You

Asking the Net Promoter Score question and analyzing your answers provides you, particularly, with two vital pieces of information:

  • How likely your customers are to refer you to new prospects
  • How satisfied your current customers are with your brand, product or service

Directly, the Net Promoter Score question asks customers how likely they are to recommend you to others. Their answers provide you with direct insight into how many of your customers are enthusiastic advocates for your brand. This helps you predict how many referrals you can expect if your customers’ current enthusiasm level remains stable.

Indirectly, NPS survey answers about how likely customers are to refer you to others reflect your current customers’ own satisfaction levels. This provides you with insight into customer satisfaction, helping you predict how likely customers are to renew their subscriptions or churn if other factors remain stable.

Thus, NPS data provides valuable business insight into both customer brand advocacy and customer loyalty. This dual insight helps make NPS one of the most popular customer satisfaction metrics, predicting customer retention as well as referrals. It’s an opportunity to analyze your scores across your customer base to detect trends and correlations. And with Totango’s robust segmentation capabilities, you’re able to slice & dice the data however you want to garner those insights at aggregate levels.

In addition to this information, you can gain information from your customers’ explanations for their NPS answers. This can provide you with insight into the reasons for your customers’ answers. For example, you might analyze how many of your Detractors complained about customer service issues to determine whether this is a significant factor in dissatisfaction levels.

You can gain further insights by correlating NPS data with other data about your customers. For example, by segregating your NPS data, you may find that customers who are Promoters are less likely to have experienced issues with your onboarding process than those who are Detractors. You may apply this information by taking steps to improve your onboarding process and testing whether this improves your NPS score.

How Do You Ask the Net Promoter Score Question?

How you time your Net Promoter Score surveys helps determine the value of the answers you receive. You can use a number of methods to conduct NPS surveys, including:

  • Sending emails to customers after specific trigger events
  • Using website pop-up windows to survey customers while they’re on your site, in-app or finishing up a chat interaction
  • Surveying your customers after a set interval of time has expired

Each of these methods has its own best uses.

Email NPS Surveys

One way to conduct an NPS survey is to send it to customers by email. The email can provide a link to a survey or it can be designed to allow the customer to answer through the email itself.

Email NPS surveys are often sent as a matter of routine after specific events in a customer journey. For example, a survey may be sent to a customer who just completed a support ticket in order to measure how their support interaction affected their satisfaction and loyalty.

This strategy may be deployed piecemeal, but for best results, you can create and automate standard operating procedures defining events in a customer’s journey which trigger NPS surveys. For example, you might design specialized NPS surveys for customers who have just completed onboarding, customers who have just completed support tickets and customers who are approaching their renewal date. You can then schedule the corresponding emails to be sent automatically to customers who reach relevant milestones. Totango includes data monitoring tools and data-triggered automatic workflows called SuccessPlays, which let you define when customers should be sent automated emails.

Website Pop-up NPS Surveys

Another way to deploy an NPS survey is through a website pop-up. Your webmaster can set your site up so that a visitor sees an NPS pop-up when they visit a specific page, after they’ve been on a page a specific amount of time or after they’ve completed a defined action such as completing a support chat conversion.

This method allows you to correlate NPS surveys with your visitors’ behavior on your website, which can lend you insight into how their user experience of your site influences their satisfaction and loyalty. You can design pop-up surveys both for visitors who are not logged in and for those who are logged into your portal.

Time-defined NPS Surveys

NPS surveys can also be scheduled to go out at certain time-based points in the customer’s journey. For example, you might schedule a survey to go out 30 days after a customer has completed onboarding to gauge their satisfaction or evaluate whether they’re ready for an upsell offer. Or you might schedule a survey to go out 30 days before their subscription renewal is due to identify customers who are at higher risk of churn so your support agents can give them special attention.

How Do You Follow up on the Net Promoter Score Question?

The value you gain from NPS data can be multiplied by the steps you take to follow up on NPS surveys. The steps you can take to follow up can both yield additional data and allow you to take practical actions based on your customer data.

You can define different follow-up actions based on where survey respondents fall in their NPS score range. For example, since NPS Promoters are satisfied with your brand, offering them an upsell discount might be an appropriate follow-up action. Similarly, since Promoters are inclined to recommend you to others, you might ask them for referrals.

Passives and Detractors also offer opportunities for follow-up. For example, for Passives, you might encourage more active use of your product by asking them what features they use regularly and whether they’ve tried certain features. For Detractors, you might turn their dissatisfaction into an opportunity to ask for product feedback or alert them to planned feature updates which might increase their satisfaction.

Follow Net Promoter Score Best Practices to Boost Retention and Referrals

Net Promoter Score represents one of the best ways to measure customer loyalty by allowing you to gauge how likely your customers are to promote you to others. This gives you insight into customer satisfaction, helping you to predict retention, as well as customers’ inclination toward brand advocacy, helping you predict referrals. You can gain additional insight by correlated NPS data with other data from your customer journey map, such as onboarding, adoption or escalation data. Armed with this valuable business intelligence, you can take steps to improve customer satisfaction and thereby increase your NPS score, satisfaction levels and retention and referral rates.

You can administer NPS surveys through a number of methods, including emails, website pop-ups and time-based actions. To optimize your delivery of NPS surveys, you can use automated tools to schedule and trigger surveys based on what your customer data indicates about your customer’s journey.

To get the most out of NPS surveys, follow up with appropriate actions based on your survey results. These can include extending upsell offers to Promoters, asking Promoters for referrals or requesting constructive feedback from Detractors.

Totango’s customer success platform includes built-in tools for tracking NPS data and automatically triggering workflows that promote higher NPS scores. Try it free to start enjoying the benefits of automated NPS survey management.

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