facebook pixel

Intro to Net Promoter Score

Ask Inline's mission is to help teams build great customer feedback campaigns. Why begin by focusing on Net Promoter®(NPS) and Customer Satisfaction(CSAT) surveys?

After working with SaaS companies for years, we've concluded that NPS and CSAT are two of the leading indicators of how a company will perform and are therefore vital to all customer feedback campaigns. To be clear: Not the leading indicator of customer experience or satisfaction or sentiment, though it does do those things — NPS is an indicator for how companies will perform.

Jason Lemkin, an expert on SaaS businesses, wrote about how his opinion of NPS has changed with time in the industry in his blog post I Was Wrong. NPS is A Great Core Metric.

A Net Promoter Survey is a simple two question survey. Once feedback is collected from many customers, a single number is calculated, this number is the Net Promoter Score.

An example Net Promoter Survey

What is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

Short and sweet: Net Promoter Score is an indicator of customer loyalty

Let's get into the details. Net Promoter Score is a number indicating the overall likelihood that customers like a product enough to recommend it to their friends. The Net Promoter System separates customers into three categories: Promoters, Passives and Detractors. Deciding where a customer falls on this scale is based this one question: "How likely is it that you would recommend [Company/Product Name] to a friend or colleague?"

To answer that question, the customer is given a scale of numbers from zero to ten. Zero indicating the worst score possible, a very unhappy customer — a detractor. Ten is the highest score meaning a satisfied customer — a promoter. Scores are placed on the promoter, passive, detractor scale as so:

  • Detractor: 0 to 6
  • Passive: 7 and 8
  • Promoter: 9 and 10

There's one more step to finding the Net Promoter Score. After customers scores have been classified into it's group, the NPS is calculated as the percentage of detractors subtracted from the percentage of promoters.

Calculating NPS: %Promoters - %Detractors = Net Promoter Score

Here's a simple example:

  • Bob's Burgers has 10 customers.
  • Three customers are detractors: 30%
  • Five customers are promoters: 50%
  • Bob's Burgers has a Net Promoter Score of 20, the result of 50-30

The second question — The verbatim.

The second question in a Net Promoter Survey is called the "verbatim". It's an open ended question, usually "Why did you give this score?"

Ask Inline provides graphs and trends for your Net Promoter Score in it's data dashboard, but the critical features are all based on the verbatim. Being able to make this data actionable is critical. To learn more about how we help with this, see Understanding Ask Inline.

How to improve your NPS or CSAT score.

Both NPS and CSAT boil customer sentiment down to a single number but customer sentiment is complex. It can be the result of a single bad experience, a pain point removed or the hours that your product saves customers.

Customer sentiment is the product of complex systems at your company and the experiences of customers with those systems.

In order to drive up your NPS or CSAT scores, teams have to learn to ignore the score while focusing on the score.

Sound confusing?

Over focus on just the score can be a bad thing. At best it's a little maddening watching it go up and down like a stock price. At worst, teams can become incentivized to game the score — forcing it up using methods which aren't actually creating happy customers.

Instead, focus on the verbatims — on delivering the value that your customers ask for. The best way to drive the score up, is to listen carefully.