In my journey as a customer experience professional, I have learned that Net Promoter Score® (NPS) is the ultimate measure of customer experience. It is the simplest yet most powerful metric that any company can use and measurably improve its customer experience. The issue is that most people aren’t able to wrap their heads around NPS survey’s simplicity; they believe that something as critical as customer experience measurement cannot be simplified to such an extent. Unfortunately, this leads them to devise a new version of NPS survey that works for “our company.”
By virtue of NPS being an open source metric, companies have the complete liberty of adjusting the NPS questionnaire to fit their need. This might sound like a good idea because most organizations know their business best; they know their customers and the markets like nobody else does. Hence, the reasoning to change the NPS survey into something that would make more sense to their customers is completely understood.
However, the problem occurs when people unknowingly make mistakes that destroy the soul of NPS. In their book ‘The Ultimate Question 2.0,’ Mr. Fred Reichheld and Mr. Rob Markey dedicate an entire chapter on conducting NPS surveys correctly; they named the chapter The Rules of Measurement. Inspired by these rules, I would like to share the five surprising mistakes that I see people making in their NPS surveys.
1. Using a scale of 1 to 10 or 1 to 4 or ‘Yes’ / ‘No’
The simple thought behind using a 0 to 10 scale in the NPS survey rather than a scale from 1 to 10 – as highlighted by Mr. Fred Reichheld – is:
Customers find that the scale makes intuitive sense, probably because of their experience with grades in school.
I am sure you’d agree that everyone understands what a zero score stands for and what a ten on ten means. Using a 1 to 10 scale makes it confusing for people because at times “Number One” gets interpreted as the best.
2. Colouring the scale
I understand the intent behind this practice: you want to make it easy for customers to know how their response is interpreted. Nevertheless, this is ultimately doing you more harm than good.
It is important to remember the very reason you decided to collect customer feedback: to understand what drives customer experience and where you are falling short in your customer’s expectations. There are several businesses that are collecting NPS feedback because their competitors are doing so and, therefore, the motivation behind collecting customer feedback is only to attain a higher NPS than that of their competitors. If you are one such business, this point will never make sense to you. I suggest you read the next mistake first.
If your ultimate goal for collecting customer feedback is to understand your customers better and learn from their feedback, then you need to let your customers give you an unbiased feedback. You also need to be OK with the fact that a few customers may incorrectly select a rating. If you have built the right closed-loop feedback process, you will identify such customers and still have an opportunity to understand their point of view.
The problem with colouring the scale is that it tends to influence people’s response. By telling your customers what the scale actually stands for, you are essentially asking them to rate you on a three-point rating scale, not a zero to ten rating scale. In his well researched article, Mr. Raghav Arora – Senior Manager at Max Healthcare, talks about the impact of this on people’s responses to your NPS questionnaire. In his research, Mr. Raghav found that a coloured scale could inflate the final NPS by as much as 18 points! This is good news if you are only chasing a higher score. However, if your goal is to improve customer experience and claim customer loyalty, then this will prove to be a failing formula.
3. Not communicating the customer experience goal
The key to utilizing NPS feedback for organizational growth is setting up a customer experience goal and not an NPS goal. When you set a goal for NPS, people will be intrinsically motivated to chase the score and find ways to report an upward trend in NPS irrespective of whether customer experience improves.
Here’s a Mini Course on Customer Experience Management to help you further. It is pivotal to keep customer experience at the core of your NPS survey. Build a shared customer experience vision for your brand, share it across the organisation, and keep reminding people about the vision. Doing so will keep everyone aligned with the goal of delivering a great customer experience. This alignment will automatically take care of the NPS.
Doing the NPS survey alone will not help; you must substantiate it with the vision of delivering great customer experience, else people will soon stop believing in the survey results.
4. Considering NPS as just another question in a survey
This is another big mistake I have seen so many organisations commit. When the “would you recommend…” question is embedded within a longer survey, most times people wouldn’t respond to that question; they might not even get to it before dropping off from the survey.
It is important to keep the NPS questionnaire short. A short questionnaire guarantees that you will capture a good number of responses, which not only is valuable from data standpoint, but also gives you more opportunities to talk to customers.
In multiple cases, I have observed that people try to stick in the NPS question into their existing feedback form. It will, of course, get you the feedback but that shows a lack of clarity on what would be done with that data. NPS is supposed to be used as an operating metric and not a market research parameter.
5. Not asking the right question
Now, this is a rare one. I have seen some surveys with a zero to ten scale, but the question was asking how satisfied I was with the service. This is wrong because NPS is designed to identify a customer’s loyalty towards your brand and satisfaction doesn’t mean loyalty. In ‘The Ultimate Question 2.0’, an entire chapter is dedicated to identifying the right question – it’s called ‘Discovering the Right Question’. Through that chapter, the founders of NPS convey their motivation behind asking the right question as follows:
All this number crunching had one goal: to determine which survey questions showed the strongest statistical correlation with repeat purchases or referrals.
Therefore, when Mr. Fred Reichheld zeroed down on the question – How likely is it that you would recommend us to your friends and family? – it was a result of studying several hundred businesses and understanding which question could help identify the driver of loyalty in those businesses. If you are using any other form of this question and reporting the metric as NPS, you are essentially disregarding the research and possibly doing a disservice to your business.
How to correct these mistakes?
Ultimately, it is important to understand that NPS is used by leading brands around the world, thereby making it the gold standard for measuring customer loyalty. The fact that this metric is used across industries and around the world gives me the confidence that the methodology has been tested and is valid. Any aberration in implementing this standard metric means you are losing the chance of benchmarking yourself against those brands. If you are making any of the 5 mistakes in your NPS survey, it is critical that you course-correct. Some businesses unknowingly make these mistakes because of lack of knowledge while some go that path because they blindly copy a competitor’s approach. Whatever your reasons are, I urge you to adopt NPS in its purest form and make customer centricity the goal of your NPS feedback.
The three pillars of successful NPS implementation are communication, action, and analysis. Firstly, communicating with your employees and telling them the reason behind capturing NPS will help align the organisation with the customer experience goal. Secondly, taking action to close the loop on customer feedback instills confidence and trust in your customers. Finally, analysing the feedback data on macro and micro level helps you uncover trends and drivers of customer loyalty. Omoto has been built to enable these three pillars in any organisation. It is being used by leading brands in eCommerce, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, and startups alike. Omoto’s users have successfully implemented the purest forms of NPS in their organisation and are already seeing great results. Here’s a guide to help you do the same.