What is Net Promoter Score

Guide: Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The Net Promoter Score measures customer loyalty and satisfaction with one question, predicting business growth. It categorizes customers into Promoters, Passives, and Detractors, aiming to increase Promoters for growth. NPS's simplicity and actionable insights help companies enhance customer relationships and strategies for improvement
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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

Customer satisfaction is important to business success, so understanding the Net Promoter Score (NPS) becomes crucial. Developed by Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company and highlighted in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article, NPS is a simple yet powerful tool for gauging customer loyalty. Its significance extends beyond just numbers, embodying a philosophy and strategy for nurturing customer advocates. This guide goes into the significance of NPS, from its conceptual roots to its practical application in modern business, illustrating how this singular metric can reshape our understanding of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Table of Contents

What is Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score is a tool of paramount importance in modern business for understanding customer loyalty and satisfaction. It was conceptualized and brought into the limelight by Fred Reichheld, a partner at Bain & Company. Reichheld introduced NPS to the world through his seminal article “The One Number You Need to Grow,” published in the Harvard Business Review in 2003. This introduction marked a significant shift in how businesses approached customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Unlike other complex customer satisfaction metrics, NPS cuts through the noise and provides a clear and straightforward insight into customer sentiment. It’s more than just a metric; it is also a philosophy and a strategic tool that helps businesses focus on creating promoters – customers who are not just satisfied but are enthusiastic advocates of the product or service.

The core of NPS’s appeal is its direct correlation with business growth. Reichheld’s research found a strong relationship between a company’s growth rate and the proportion of its customers who were promoters. This revelation was groundbreaking, as it offered businesses a clear target to aim for in customer satisfaction efforts – increasing their promoter base.

NPS Chart

Understanding Net Promoter Score

NPS revolves around one critical question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” This question is designed to gauge the customer’s overall perception of and loyalty to the brand, going beyond mere satisfaction. It encapsulates the customer’s entire experience with the company, their likelihood to continue using the services, and whether they will advocate for the brand.

NPS explanation

The responses to this question categorize customers into three distinct segments:

  1. Promoters (score 9-10): These customers represent the ideal target for any business. Promoters are not just satisfied; they are enthusiastic about the company. They are the customers who will keep coming back, and more importantly, they will actively promote the business to others. This word-of-mouth promotion is invaluable as it brings in new customers without any direct marketing expense. Promoters are seen as the cornerstone of business growth in the NPS philosophy.

  2. Passives (score 7-8): This group is somewhat satisfied but not to the point of being enthusiastic about the brand. They won’t likely detract from the brand’s image, but they are not actively promoting it either. Passives are satisfied for the moment but are not deeply loyal. They are vulnerable to competitive offerings and could easily switch if a better option presents itself. While they don’t harm the brand, they also don’t contribute to its growth.

  3. Detractors (score 0-6): These are the dissatisfied customers. They are unlikely to purchase again and may discourage others from buying from the company. Detractors can actively harm a company’s brand through negative word-of-mouth. In the NPS system, detractors are a critical focus area, as reducing the number of detractors can significantly improve the overall NPS and, by extension, the company’s potential for growth.

The Net Promoter Score is a litmus test for customer loyalty and a predictor of business growth. Its simplicity in asking just one question belies the depth of insight it provides into customer behavior and its impact on a company’s future. By focusing on converting customers into promoters and reducing the number of detractors, businesses can use NPS as a guiding star for customer relationship management and growth strategies.

Calculating Net Promoter Score

The calculation of the Net Promoter Score is ingeniously straightforward, yet it provides a profound insight into customer loyalty and the health of a business’s customer relationships. Here’s a detailed look at how NPS is calculated:

  1. Collect Responses: Start by asking the fundamental NPS question to your customers: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” Collect responses from a significant and representative sample of your customer base to ensure accuracy.

  2. Categorize Respondents: Based on the responses, categorize the customers into three groups:

    • Promoters: These are respondents who gave a score of 9 or 10.
    • Passives: These are respondents who scored 7 or 8. It’s important to note that passives are not included in the NPS calculation, as they are seen as neutral.
    • Detractors: Customers who gave a score from 0 to 6.
  3. Calculate the Percentages: Calculate the percentage of Promoters and Detractors. This is done by dividing the number of customers in each category by the total number of respondents, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.

  4. Subtract Detractors from Promoters: The NPS is then calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. The formula looks like this: NPS = % Promoters – % Detractors.

  5. Understand the Score: The final NPS can range from -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to +100 (if every customer is a Promoter). A positive NPS (>0) is generally seen as good, and an NPS of +50 is excellent.

The Significance of NPS

The Net Promoter Score is much more than just a number. Its significance in the business world is multifaceted:

  1. Indicator of Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction: NPS is an excellent gauge of customer loyalty and overall satisfaction with a company. Since the score is based on the likelihood of customers recommending the brand, it directly reflects their level of satisfaction and loyalty.

  2. Predictor of Growth: Numerous studies have found a strong correlation between a high NPS and business growth. Promoters tend to buy more, stay longer, and refer new customers – all of which are key growth drivers.

  3. Simplicity and Benchmarking: One of the reasons for the widespread adoption of NPS is its simplicity. It condenses complex customer sentiments into a single, easily understandable figure. This makes it easier for companies to benchmark their performance over time or against competitors.

  4. Actionable Insights: NPS helps businesses pinpoint areas of customer dissatisfaction. By understanding why customers are detractors or merely passive, a company can implement targeted improvements.

  5. Customer-Centric Culture: Regular use of NPS encourages a culture that prioritizes customer feedback. It keeps customer satisfaction at the forefront of strategic decision-making.

Implementing NPS in Your Business

The implementation of the Net Promoter Score in a business is a multiple-step process and aims to integrate a customer-centric approach into the business’s operations and culture. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how to implement NPS in your business:

Step: 1 Surveying Customers

  • Designing the Survey: Start with the core NPS question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” Consider adding a few follow-up questions to gather insights into why customers chose their score, but keep the survey concise to ensure a higher response rate.

  • Choosing a Survey Method: Decide how you’ll distribute the survey. Common methods include email, SMS, website pop-ups, or in-app notifications. The method should align with where your customers interact most with your brand.

  • Timing and Frequency: Determine the best time to send out the survey. This could be after a purchase, a support interaction, or at regular intervals. Regular surveying helps track changes in customer sentiment over time, but be cautious not to over-survey, as this can lead to survey fatigue.

Step: 2 Analyzing Responses

  • Segmentation of Responses: Once the responses are collected, categorize each response as a Promoter (9-10), Passive (7-8), or Detractor (0-6).

  • Qualitative Insights: For responses with additional comments, analyze the feedback to understand common themes or issues. This qualitative data is invaluable for understanding the reasons behind the scores.

Step: 3 Calculating the Score

  • Percentage Calculation: Calculate the percentage of Promoters and Detractors. This is done by dividing the number of responses in each category by the total number of responses, then multiplying by 100.

  • Final NPS Calculation: Subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters to get your NPS. Remember, Passives count towards the total number of respondents but are not included in the calculation.

Step: 4 Taking Action

  • Interpreting the Score: Understand what your NPS indicates about your customer relationships. Compare your score with industry benchmarks to gauge where you stand.

  • Addressing Feedback: This is crucial. Identify trends and specific issues raised by customers, especially Detractors. Develop action plans to address these concerns.

  • Engaging with Customers: Reach out to Detractors to understand their concerns better and resolve their issues. This can turn detractors into promoters. Also, engage with Promoters to thank them and encourage continued advocacy.

  • Implementing Improvements: Use insights from the NPS feedback to make improvements in your products, services, or customer experience. This could involve training staff, changing operational processes, or enhancing product features.

  • Communication and Culture: Foster a culture that values customer feedback. Share NPS results and customer feedback with the team, and involve them in brainstorming solutions.

  • Continuous Monitoring: NPS should be an ongoing effort. Continuously measure and analyze your NPS and the impact of any changes you make.

Best Practices for NPS Surveys

To maximize the effectiveness of NPS surveys and gain the most accurate insights from them, several best practices should be followed:

Keep it Short

  • Conciseness: The primary advantage of NPS surveys is their simplicity. Stick to the main NPS question and include only a few additional questions to uncover the reasons behind the score. This approach respects the respondent’s time and often results in higher response rates.

  • Relevance: Ensure that any follow-up questions are relevant to the NPS question and provide valuable insights. For example, asking “What is the primary reason for your score?” can yield actionable feedback.

Timing

  • Strategic Timing: The timing of the survey can significantly influence the responses. Ideally, the survey should be sent when the customer’s experience with the product or service is fresh in their mind. For instance, shortly after a purchase or a customer service interaction.

  • Consistent Timing: For repeat customers, try to maintain consistency in when the survey is sent. This consistency helps in comparing responses over time.

Frequency

  • Balanced Frequency: Regular surveys are important for tracking changes in customer sentiment, but it’s crucial to find a balance. Over-surveying can annoy customers and lead to lower response rates or skewed results.

  • Adjusting Frequency: The frequency should be adjusted based on customer interaction. For businesses with frequent customer interactions, surveying less often might be more appropriate.

Follow Up

  • Respond to Feedback: Especially for Detractors, timely follow-up can turn a negative experience into a positive one. This can also apply to Promoters, by acknowledging their loyalty and perhaps encouraging referrals.

  • Actionable Steps: Use the feedback to implement real changes. Customers feel valued when they see their feedback is taken seriously and can lead to improvements.

Challenges and Limitations of NPS

While NPS is a valuable tool for measuring customer loyalty, it has its limitations:

  • Oversimplification: NPS provides a high-level view of customer sentiment but can oversimplify complex customer experiences. It reduces the rich spectrum of customer feedback to a single number.

  • Lack of Depth: NPS does not delve into specific aspects of customer experience, like product quality, customer service, or value for money.

  • Cultural Bias: The way people respond to surveys can vary significantly across different cultures, potentially affecting the accuracy of NPS.

  • Best Used in Conjunction: To overcome these limitations, NPS should be used alongside other metrics and qualitative feedback methods for a more comprehensive understanding of customer experience.

Conclusion

The Net Promoter Score is more than just a metric, it can be used as direction for businesses aiming to promote customer loyalty and stimulate growth. Its simplicity in extracting profound insights from a single question about customer advocacy underscores its effectiveness.

From calculating and interpreting the score to implementing actionable strategies based on its results, NPS provides a clear pathway for businesses to enhance their customer relationships. While acknowledging its limitations, the integration of NPS within a broader framework of customer feedback mechanisms can propel a business towards a more customer-centric future, where growth and customer satisfaction move hand in hand.

References

A: Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metric used to assess customer loyalty and satisfaction based on one simple question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” It’s important because it provides a quick and easy way to gauge customer sentiment, can predict business growth, and helps identify areas for improvement in customer service and experience.

A: NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are Detractors (those who give a score of 0-6) from the percentage of customers who are Promoters (those who give a score of 9-10). Passives (who score 7-8) are not considered in the calculation. The final NPS can range from -100 to 100, with a higher score indicating healthier customer relationships.

A: Best practices for NPS surveys include keeping the survey short and focused, choosing the right timing to send the survey for accurate reflection of customer sentiment, surveying customers regularly but not too frequently to avoid survey fatigue, and actively following up on the feedback, especially from Detractors, to improve their experience.

A: A high NPS score indicates that a company has more Promoters than Detractors, suggesting strong customer loyalty and satisfaction. Typically, a score above 0 is good, but a score above 50 is considered excellent. High NPS scores are often correlated with better business performance and growth.

A: The limitations of NPS include its potential to oversimplify customer sentiment, as it reduces complex emotions and experiences to a single number. It doesn’t provide detailed insights into specific issues or aspects of customer experience. Additionally, cultural differences can affect how people respond to surveys, potentially skewing NPS results. Therefore, NPS is best used alongside other qualitative and quantitative feedback methods for a more comprehensive understanding of customer experience.

Author

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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