Net Promoter Score: Tools + Tips To Implement NPS The Right Way

By Colin Newcomer

You want to know whether or not your customers are loyal to your brand, right? Loyal customers are happy customers who will keep using your product and share it with their friends. That’s what every business wants!

But unless you have a full-time team dedicated to interviewing your customers, it can be hard to figure out exactly how your customers feel about your brand.

That’s what Net Promoter Score, also known by its acronym NPS, aims to fix. It’s a simple customer feedback survey designed to give you “the one number you need to grow,” in the words of its creator Frederick Reichheld.

Whether you’re a major corporation or a small business, you can start sending the Net Promoter Score survey to figure out how your customers feel about your brand.

In this post – I’ll give you everything you need to get started with Net Promoter Score. I’ll tell you what it is, how it works, and some real tips based on my experience measuring Net Promoter Score at my previous company.

What Is The Net Promoter Score Survey

In a nutshell, Net Promoter Score is a two question survey designed to give you a single number that measures how loyal your customers are.

Because it’s such a basic survey, it’s:

  • Simple for you to implement
  • Easy for your customers to quickly answer

As simple as it is, it’s wildly popular and used by huge companies like Apple and GE.

And better yet – it’s actually helpful. While Net Promoter Score can’t necessarily tell you what to do to improve your customer loyalty, it can tell you whether or not the things you try are actually working.

The Net Promoter Score Question Is Pretty Simple…

The core Net Promoter Score question is deceptively simple. This is all it is…

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

Customers can then rate their likelihood on a scale from 1-10:

net promoter score question

After the rating, most implementations of Net Promoter Score also ask a follow-up along the lines of:

What’s the most important reason for your rating?

Or

Why did you answer that way?

nps follow up question

This second question isn’t required to calculate your score – but it does provide some helpful information.

Put together, you get both a:

  • Quantitative piece of data in the form of the score
  • Qualitative piece of data in the form of the answer

The Net Promoter Score Calculation Formula

So what is the actual Net Promoter Score calculation formula? Again, it’s pretty simple.

First, you break up respondents into three separate groups depending on the score that they gave:

  • 0-6: Detractors (these people aren’t very loyal)
  • 7-8: Passives (these people are neither loyal nor disloyal)
  • 9-10: Promoters (these are the loyal customers that actively promote your brand)

To calculate your actual Net Promoter Score, all you do is subtract the number of detractors from the number of promoters:

Promoters – Detractors = Net Promoter Score

For example, if you had 100 respondents like this:

  • 25 Detractors
  • 35 Passive
  • 40 Promoters

Then your Net Promoter Score would be 15 (40 Promoters – 25 Detractors).

3 Tools To Help You Send Net Promoter Score Surveys

The popularity of Net Promoter Score has led to a number of tools popping up that make it easy to send Net Promoter Score surveys to your customers. While you could always code something yourself, these tools greatly simplify the process.

Plus, many of them offer free plans that should work for smaller businesses.

Here are some of the best Net Promoter Score tools:

  • Wootric – this is the tool that I eventually chose for my company. It has a helpful backend interface and is easy for developers to customize as needed.
  • Promoter.io – another quality tool that helps you send NPS surveys, but only via email.
  • Delighted – a neat tool that even lets you send NPS surveys via SMS (as well as via email and web).

delighted net promoter score tool interface

Once you pick your tool, you shouldn’t just start firing off Net Promoter Score surveys, though. Take some time to make sure you do things right…

5 Tips For Accurately Gathering Your Net Promoter Score

If spending a few months sending NPS surveys taught me one thing, it’s this:

It’s incredibly easy to fudge the numbers.

That is, if you want to get a good NPS number, it’s not hard to structure your survey mechanisms to do that.

If you want an accurate NPS number, though, things get much more difficult.

From research and my own personal experience, these tips will help you gather an accurate NPS number…

1. Choose Between Email Or In-App And Stick With It

There are two common approaches to sending Net Promoter Score surveys:

  • In-app surveys – these are displayed inside your website or app while the visitor is actively using your website.
  • Email surveys – these are sent to the user’s email, which means they may not have recently used your site.

Both approaches have positives and negatives.

For example, in-app surveys usually have a higher response rate, which is a good thing. However, as Chad Keck of Promoter.io argues, in-app Net Promoter Scores are more likely to measure “how a customer is feeling at that moment” than the desired “how a customer feels about your brand in general.”

Though email surveys will lower your response rate, they have the advantage of eliminating the confounding factor of how a customer feels in the heat of the moment. That is, you’re more likely to capture how your customer feels in general than how they were feeling at a specific moment (like you would with in-app surveying).

The most important thing is this:

Once you pick a method – stick with that method. You can’t accurately compare numbers gathered from different methods because each method is measuring a slightly different thing.

2. Don’t Bias Your Score In The Survey Introduction

One of the nice things about Net Promoter Score is that there’s no variation in the survey. Users always get asked the exact same question so, as far as the actual survey goes, you don’t have to worry about biasing their responses.

But where you can bias your responses is when you introduce the survey to your customers.

Most of the Net Promoter Score survey tools that I listed give you pre-configured messages that are designed not to bias your score – when in doubt, I recommend sticking with the default option.

3. Define And Segment Customer Groups Carefully

This won’t apply to every business – but if you’re running a business with different “tiers”, it helps to put some thought into the types of customers you’ll be surveying.

Let’s say you have a service or product with three tiers (this should apply to many SaaS and software products, like WordPress plugins):

  • Free
  • Pro
  • Enterprise

It doesn’t necessarily make sense to lump all three customers into the same bucket for Net Promoter Score purposes. There are a couple reasons for this:

  • Some customer types will respond differently. For example, you’re most likely to find unhappy customers in the free group because people who like your product enough to pay for it are usually at least a little happier with it.
  • You might care more about certain groups’ scores. While I’m sure you want all your customers to be happy, you’re probably a bit more concerned with unhappy enterprise clients than people on your free tier.

Define which groups you want to segment and then be consistent about maintaining those segments so that you can get an accurate look at each distinct customer group.

4. Always Survey At The Same Point In Their Journey

Beyond segmenting customer groups, another way to ensure more accurate results is to always ask the Net Promoter Score at the same point in a customer’s journey.

Again, this helps avoid bias by ensuring that your customers have either:

  • All experienced a certain feature in your product.
  • All used your product for the same length of time.

There are two main triggers you can send Net Promoter Score surveys on:

  • Action – send your survey when a customer has completed a specific action (or sequence of actions). This could be using a certain feature, launching X campaigns, spending $X, etc.
  • Time – send your survey X days after a customer signs up. This is a bit simpler to implement, but you can’t guarantee that everyone you survey has experienced your product to the same degree.

Again – the important part here is consistency. Once you pick a method, don’t assume that you’ll be able to accurately compare the number that you gather via that method to other situations.

5. Don’t Over-Survey Customers – Give Them A Break In Between

The Net Promoter Score survey is so simple that it can be tempting to over survey your customers.

Don’t do that.

Sending the Net Promoter Score survey too often:

  • Can annoy your customers.
  • Doesn’t leave enough time for you to do anything to dramatically change their score, anyway

So how often should you send the survey?

The standard approach is to send it quarterly. That gives you enough data to see trends, while still leaving enough time for the changes that you make to take effect.

Net Promoter Score Benchmarks: What Are They?

Once you start surveying people, you’re probably going to start asking, “what is a good net promoter score?”

It makes sense – you want to see how your business stacks up to your competitors!

net promoter score benchmarks

But here’s the thing about Net Promoter Score benchmarks:

They’re not very helpful for comparing yourself to other companies.

As I hopefully made clear in the sections above, there are far too many confounding factors to compare Net Promoter Scores on a 1:1 basis.

But there is one helpful set of Net Promoter Score benchmarks that you should look at:

Your own scores over time.

Assuming you keep a consistent survey methodology, looking at how your Net Promoter score changes over time is the best way to take the temperature of your company. If you see your score rising with a consistent survey methodology, that’s a good sign that your business is on the right track.

Here’s To More Loyal Customers

Net Promoter Score isn’t a panacea for your business woes. But it is a simple, yet powerful, way to gauge how loyal your customers are.

Here’s what you need to do to start benefitting from NPS:

  • Pick an NPS tool to help you send surveys
  • Develop a consistent methodology and follow good survey best practices
  • Monitor how your score changes over time

Start doing it today and you’ll be on your way to more loyal customers!

Leave A Comment?