I learned about Net Promoter Score in business school and, when I joined AdStage a few years ago as VP of Product, I thought this would be a great chance to put that skill to use. After all, Net Promoter Score is known as a universal measure for customer experience management. Once I went through the process of actually attempting to measure customer experience, however, it became clear that while the score might not be universally useful, the lessons learned in the process can be.
Getting to Know Your Users
When I first joined AdStage, step one was to make sure I truly understood our user base. Why do they use our product? What pain do we cure? How do they feel when they use it? That meant doing my best impression of a journalist delving into the complexities of a story. By the end of step one I had developed a true sense of empathy for our customers.
Step two was to go to the game film. This meant watching users as they attempted to use our product. I did this by combing through event data, user logs and even spending some time in our customers’ offices doing physical user shadow sessions. It doesn’t take long to realize users say they do one thing but actually do something very different. Ask a user if they like a feature and they’ll confidently say, “yes.” Yet you then watch them awkwardly scan the page and it’s pretty obvious they have never used that feature before.
Once I logged enough hours I felt like I had a great grasp of their workflows, mindset and behavior.
When Companies Should Employ Net Promoter Score Surveys
Like many B2B companies, we started with a handful of customers that used our product. It didn’t take long to connect with almost all of our users to learn their stories. Fortunately, that handful of customers grew to thousands. That meant I was no longer able to personally know every single customer and their challenges. I needed to put something in place to formally collect feedback.
How to Set Up Your Net Promoter Score Survey
There are lots of tools to automate your NPS survey (we use AskNicely) so it is sent to the right people at the right time. We wait 60 days after a customer has started paying for our product. This gives our customers enough time to use the product and give meaningful feedback. Remember: you want complete honesty, not a vanity metric. We then check in with another survey every 6 months.
With a little work you can also rig your customer communication tools (we use Intercom) to generate automated responses so you message Promoters, Passives and Detractors with a relevant and timely message. In my experience about 50% of people respond to my automated email asking for more detailed feedback. You can learn how to set up the Intercom Asknice.ly integration here.
The Question Itself:
A lot of people recommend changing the wording of your NPS survey question beyond the classic “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?” However, in my experience, it seems like customers ignore the actual question text and just think of the 0–10 rating as a way to express general satisfaction. If there’s one thing NPS has done, it’s created a standard feedback mechanism that users complete at a higher rate than traditional satisfaction surveys. So I feel it is better to leave the standard question so users quickly and honestly respond. Rewording the question forces people to read and think. Both things they hate to do.
Why Companies Should Employ Net Promoter Score Surveys
The classic Net Promoter Score survey is calculated using the answer to the survey question regarding likelihood of recommending your product and a 10-point scale. Many believe this to be the core measurement for customer experience management programs worldwide and it can work if you’re a B2C company with tons of engaged users and a huge sample size.
However, we’re a B2B platform and we simply don’t have the same scale as a consumer app. And we don’t like touting data that we don’t have a high enough sample size to back. As a result, we use the Net Promoter Score survey as a means to collect qualitative feedback and as an early warning system to discover if a user is unhappy.
In the end, we don’t use the actual “score” in Net Promoter Score. However the survey and automated messaging we set up to send and manage NPS turned into a efficient way to illicit quick and honest sentiment from our users on a regular basis. To go back to my journalist analogy, it is the tip-line that points me in the direction of a user that I need to sit down with and interview.