Grow your business with NPS


The Age of the Customer is here

What is the Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

  • The NPS scale
  • How do you calculate NPS?
  • How do you implement NPS?
  • Why choose NPS over other metrics?
  • The benefits of NPS

Mastering NPS basics

  • The dos and don’ts of NPS surveys
  • What is a good survey response rate?
  • What makes a good NPS?

How to leverage NPS

  • CEOs and leadership
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Service and operations
  • Human resources

Practical advice on implementing NPS

  • Build your culture around NPS
  • Contact at-risk customers
  • Thank your most loyal customers
  • Avoid NPS inflation

Common NPS mistakes

  • Long questionnaires
  • Delaying follow-up
  • Poor respondent selection
  • Not getting everyone involved


Short on time? Download a free copy of this guide to read offline! 

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The Age of the Customer is here

Customer experience (CX) has changed business around the world and customer service expectations are the driving force behind it. With word of mouth reigning king, delivering a superior experience to your customers is not just best practice, it’s baseline practice. Customers expect excellence. And failing to deliver can make or break a brand.


A superb customer experience sets you apart from local—and even international—competitors. Customer experience is overtaking price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Sounds simple enough, but here’s the sticking point.

There’s a gross mismatch between the number of businesses who claim to deliver an excellent experience and the number of customers who say they receive said excellent experience.

Eighty per cent of businesses say they deliver a ‘superior’ customer experience. However, only eight per cent of people think that these same companies actually do.

The purpose of measuring CX is to uncover opportunities for improvement within your organisation. If you choose not to act, you only have 50 per cent of the solution.
—Damian Bennett,  Business
 Director at Perceptive Group.


The rise of loyalty economics

A superior customer experience breeds customer loyalty. And loyalty is good for business.

CX leaders can outperform CX laggards by nearly 80 per cent. Moreover, the customers of CX leaders are seven times more likely to buy more from the company, eight times more likely to try other products or services, and 15 times more likely to spread positive word of mouth, than the customers of CX laggards.

In short, loyalty pays. But to grow loyalty, you need to understand your customers.


The CX Flywheel: a concept that places customers at the centre of your core business functions—marketing, sales and service.


The CX flywheel harnesses positive customer experiences to drive sustainable growth. Learn how the flywheel is transforming businesses–download our white paper. 

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Shining a light on what customers think

With customers at the heart of 21st century business, customer insight tools are shining a light on what companies think they know about their customers and what they actually do.

Understanding why customers do (or don’t) come back is a major part of this—which is where NPS comes in. NPS, short for Net Promoter Score, is a proven, powerful metric used globally to measure customer engagement and advocacy levels.


NPS is for everyone

NPS is not a metric for management eyes only; it is relevant to every employee in your business. Everyone can get behind it. Best of all, it’s simple. But don’t think that simplicity equals shallow insight. Used in the right way, NPS can uncover strengths and weaknesses relating to your brand and overall business, from operational strategies right down to critical customer touchpoints.

The purpose of measuring CX is to uncover opportunities for improvement within your business. In short, it should highlight positive changes. If you choose not to act, you only have 50 per cent of the solution. 

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What is the Net Promoter Score?

NPS begins with a question:

“How likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”

Answers range from 0 (highly unlikely) to 10 (highly likely).

In many situations, a follow-up question is asked, inviting customers to explain why they gave the score they did and suggestions for improvement.


The NPS scale

Depending on their answer, each customer is classed as either a Promoter, a Passive or a Detractor.

Detractors (at risk):

  • Score you 0-6.
  • Are not satisfied with your product or service.
  • Are considering switching to a competitor.
  • Are likely to share their experience and damage your reputation.

Passives (noncommittal):

  • Score you 7-8.
  • Are not loyal to your product or service.
  • Can be enticed by competitor offerings.
  • Are not included as part of the NPS calculation.

Promoters (advocate):

  • Score you 9-10.
  • Are advocates of your product or service.
  • Are not susceptible to competitor offerings.
  • Are a source of testimonials and case studies.
  • Are likely to share their experience and drive growth via referrals.


How do you calculate NPS?

To get your overall NPS score, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

Promoter % – Detractor % = NPS

For example, if you had 100 responses with 60 Promoters (Promoters = 60 per cent) and 20 Detractors (Detractors = 20 per cent) this formula would become:

60 – 20 = A Net Promoter Score of +40



How do you implement NPS?

An NPS survey is usually conducted via email and the responses captured and analysed via a dedicated CX management system. At basic level this system should notify customer care representatives about low-scoring customers, so they quickly and effectively resolve issues and prevent them from churning.

While the quantitative score gives businesses a metric to work on, often the real value is in the qualitative response data: the answers to the follow-up questions regarding improvements and reasons for a score.

These responses are a valuable source of insights, which can be used to create action plans to improve the customer’s overall experience. This can range from introducing new e-commerce features to improve product browsing, to operational overhauls of processes and procedures that fuel customer support call centres, for example.


Why choose NPS over other metrics?

NPS is one of several different customer satisfaction measurement tools, each with its own positives and negatives. As a business, you should choose a measurement tool based on what your objectives are.

For example, if you’re trying to determine the impact of a new internal training programme on customer service, then CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) may be a more appropriate metric.

Likewise, if you’re trying to investigate how much customer effort is impacting your company’s ability to provide a superb customer experience, CES (Customer Effort Score) can highlight the touchpoints that are causing headaches for your customers. At Perceptive, we often combine CES with NPS to analyse how customer effort affects customer loyalty.

For example, John goes into a bank to set up a new account. The teller there hands him a form to fill in and bring back. Unfortunately for John, he doesn’t understand much of the terminology, and ends up filling in fields he didn’t need to. When he returns to the teller, he has to fill out the form again! Overall, it is a difficult experience.

However, if the teller instead sits down with John and they run through the form together, John’s experience is much smoother. He understands what information he needs to provide, his form is filled out correctly and his new account is set up that day. A much more positive experience. His satisfaction is higher, as is his likelihood to return to do business with that bank in the future.

(Net Promoter Score)

(Customer Satisfaction)

(Customer Effort Score)

Measures loyalty and therefore the likelihood of repeat business.

Measured on a scale of 0 to 10. Calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

Can aid cash flow forecasting.

Is an indicator of brand health.

Measures overall customer satisfaction.

Easy for all levels of staff to understand.

Gauges satisfaction towards a specific product or service-interaction.

Typically measured on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied).

Responses are grouped into proportions. For example, 25 per cent of respondents were very dissatisfied, while 40 per cent were either satisfied or very satisfied.

Provides feedback on specific products or services, not on the business as a whole.

Easy for all levels of staff to understand.

Measures how much effort customers had to put in to have their needs met.

Typically measured on a 5 or 7 point effort scale ranging from very hard to very easy.

Responses are grouped into proportions like CSAT.

Can identify touchpoints that win and lose customers.

Provides feedback on specific processes or products—such as an online checkout process—not on the entire experience start to finish.

Useful to analyse the correlation between customer effort and customer loyalty.

Easy for all levels of staff to understand.


The benefits of NPS

1. It’s a powerful business KPI

NPS makes for an excellent business KPI to track because of its connection to cash flow and brand health. Maintain your NPS and you’re likely to see positive results across the board.

Better yet, NPS is a KPI that is relevant to all employees because their everyday actions can measurably affect it.

Imagine if Amy from accounts discovered that one of her favourite contacts left her a glowing review through a recent survey, scoring her a full 10/10 and boosting her personal NPS as well as her department’s. Now compare that to a more typical experience, where Amy’s hard work simply disappears into more generalised customer satisfaction KPIs. One of those instances is going to result in a more satisfying work environment for staff.

Use your NPS to set your KPIs for your frontline staff, as well as your business as a whole. You can analyse your survey results for any themes or patterns that can help individuals to drive performance and improve customer experience.

Read more: How to leverage NPS


2. Benchmark against the competition

NPS is a globally-recognised metric, which makes it easier to benchmark against other companies and competitors in your industry, and track your progress over time.

Suggested reading: New Zealand NPS Industry Benchmarks or Australia NPS Industry Benchmarks


3. Understand the big picture

NPS helps businesses see the “bigger picture” and gauge their customer loyalty week to week, month to month, and year to year. It is easy to see windfalls and losses.

Moreover, the score can also be used to compare how different teams, territories, customer segments etc. are performing. This provides valuable behind-the-curtain insights into the strengths and weaknesses within your business.

Forty per cent of major business decisions are still based on ‘gut feeling’ that is often flawed.


4. It’s simple and user-friendly

Understanding NPS is simple, as it’s expressed as a score between -100 and +100. This makes it easily digestible to busy executives and general staff alike. What’s more, it breaks down the results into three customer groups: promoters, detractors and passives.

The result? Everyone in your company speaks the same language when it comes to customer success.


5. Its flexible delivery

You can conduct an NPS survey by phone, email or via a website. With the right CX management system, you can also compile and share results quickly, making it easy for people to review your findings and evaluate performance. It also offers flexible use in various business settings.

For example, Apple is an NPS leader in the tech space. And part of the reason behind their success is how they’ve incorporated NPS into their 300 plus retail stores.

After a purchase, customers will receive an NPS survey email. Any detractors are called within 24 hours, and the comments from Apple’s promoters are circulated through the staff.

Moreover, to ensure their staff are engaged, and therefore brand promoters themselves, Apple also conducts employee NPS (eNPS) surveys with their employees and take on board employee feedback.


6. Strengthens your customer journey

NPS can help you uncover the strengths and weaknesses in your customer journey. If you see the symptoms—unhappy and churned customers for instance—but are not sure of the cause, NPS can shine a light into why. From misleading marketing and misinformed sales to poor support and service, the customer feedback an NPS survey generates helps pinpoint your best and worst performing touchpoints.


7. Grow word of mouth

Today, distrust of marketing and sales is rife. The internet has helped customers to become more educated and savvy when making purchasing decisions, which has led to a resurgence in word of mouth. People no longer turn to sales and marketing for buying advice, they turn to friends, family and colleagues.

To grow positive word of mouth, you first need to understand what people think about you—the good and the bad. NPS can help you unearth this critical feedback, capitalise on what you’re doing well and minimise what you aren’t. When customers are satisfied, good word of mouth will follow.


8. Save at-risk customers

NPS will also detect your most unhappy customers. These people are perhaps your most valuable when you’re looking to improve your company’s CX. Without their feedback, you can only guess at what you need to work on. What’s more, resolve their issue quickly, and you might even “save” them from churning. Lastly, NPS can also help you prioritise which customers to respond to first.

Read more: 5 tips to help you approach your most unhappy customers

Ultimately, the score your business gets is just the beginning. NPS is a full system that creates the conditions to implement genuine change and improvement.


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Mastering the Net Promoter Score basics

There is more than one way to conduct an NPS survey: in store, over the phone and via email are the three most common. At Perceptive, we recommend email surveys as they provide the ability to integrate results with a technology platform to automate your data entry and analysis—among other benefits.


The pros and cons of online NPS surveys

  • Cost effective and quick: There are less setup and administration costs, no interviewer or focus groups to organise (or pay), and if you use an online customer survey management system, you can quickly create, administer, collect and analyse responses.

  • Automation and easy access: Responses are stored online for easy viewing and are accessible at any time. Analysing the data also becomes easier and more streamlined.

  • Unbiased review: It allows the most unbiased and constructive feedback where little influence can creep in.

  • Relies on accurate contact information: Like any customer feedback initiative, online surveys rely on accurate contact information, namely email address. To be effective this relies on effective database maintenance, as well as regularly reviewing the process and procedures surrounding this.

  • It’s online: Most people have access to the internet, but if your survey targets certain segments, such as the elderly who may not have an internet connection, it may not be suitable.

  • Getting noticed: Due to the volume of emails, there’s a chance that your customers overlook your survey invitation in their inbox. Counteract this with a well-targeted invitation, with a clear message and ensure you consult the wider marketing and communications calendar before scheduling to avoid overlaps.


The dos and don’ts of NPS surveys

  • Keep your business objectives in mind: What are the objectives of the survey? This could be setting KPIs, employee retention, or measuring the performance of key touchpoints.

  • Keep it short: No more than five minutes. This will increase your response rate.

  • Keep it simple: Use a few, easy-to-answer questions to make the analysis of your survey responses easier.

  • Find an independent research partner: If a third-party provider runs your survey, you get an independent view of your customers’ feedback. Added bonus: you don't have to manually input responses.

  • Use jargon: Use common words and keep your language simple to reduce the chance of questions being misunderstood. This will also help to increase your response rate.

  • Include restricted multiple choice questions: It can be frustrating for the respondent if multiple choice answers don’t include the response they want. They may not complete the survey as a result.

  • Send a survey months after a customer’s purchase: A badly timed survey is not ideal. Aim for a survey to be deployed soon after a purchase or interaction.



What is a good NPS survey response rate?

What is considered a “good” NPS survey response rate will vary greatly from business to business, depending on your target audience.

Generally, NPS users usually aim for a response rate of 30 to 50 per cent, the average rate being somewhere around 15 to 30 per cent. This is, however, dependent on the existing customer engagement levels and industry.  

“We always advocate that businesses should benchmark against themselves. That said, a 10 per cent response rate is generally a statistically sound sample––one that can be used to make informed business decisions,” explains Tomas Dickson.

“However, this needs to be considered in the context of the entire customer database. For example, if there are 5,000 customers and you’re only hearing from 500, that may not be enough, despite it being 10 per cent of the total.”

So, don’t panic if your initial response rates are lower than you’d like. It will grow over time––and with the correct application of the above best practices.


What is a good NPS?

The short answer: any NPS above 0 is "good", as it means that your audience is more loyal than not. Anything above +20 is considered "favourable". Above +50 is excellent, and above +80 is world-class.

We see a range of scores at Perceptive. Across New Zealand and Australia we consider anything above +20 to be ideal, while scores between +30 to +40 are considered healthy. However, these goals will change depending on your industry's individual benchmarks and location.

Well-known, high-growth companies from the US, such as Amazon, Harley-Davidson, Zappos, Costco and Dell, generally attain NPS efficiency ratings of +50 to +80.

Suggested reading: The top 3 Net Promoter Score industries in Australia
and New Zealand.


Should you share your NPS?

You may be tempted to do this when your score is high—but what happens if your score drops? This is just one pair of positives and negatives that must be balanced. To help you, we’re going through the reasons that you may decide to publish your NPS for each of your main audiences.

The three main groups to take into account are: your employees, internal stakeholders (such as your board and investors), and your customers (and everyone else).


1. Employees

Yes, you should include your employees.

You can use NPS to motivate your employees to deliver a better customer experience when keeping your team up to date on performance trends. They will see how their efforts impact customer satisfaction and retention, and adapt accordingly.

To ensure you’re reaping the full rewards of your NPS program, you should include trending information such as how you’re performing against your key performance indicators, and how you plan to act in response to customer feedback.

How much you reveal will depend on what decisions are affected by this transparency. You may only want to reveal the full detail to those who are in a leadership position, or you may want to discuss this with your entire staff to ensure the entire company is on board.

In essence, every employee should know how his or her role improves the change in overall customer sentiment.


2. Internal stakeholders

Sharing your data with your board, investors and other stakeholders is usually a given. As they have a vested interest in your company, they need to know how your company is performing.

Even if you’re performing less than adequately, having a solid plan for how to improve your score will put you in good stead.

If you’re a public company, you’ll have to disclose the information to all investors.


3. Customers and everyone else

Choosing to publish your score on your website or in your email newsletter can be a good idea. It can:

  • Give you the competitive edge by reinforcing your business’ commitment to customer experience and credibility. This needs to be backed up by your employees’ continuous actions of course, but it can really make you stand apart from your direct competitors.

  • Resonate with your customers. Sharing a credible and engaging brand vision at the same time you’re disclosing your score, will resonate with both your future and current customers and act to boost your authority.

  • Help your recruitment drive. A good score may also mean that people who are looking to work at your company take notice. Prioritising excellent customer service often means people will want to work for your brand, as the relationship between satisfied customers and employees is interlinked. If you promote your customer-led culture widely, this will help with sourcing new recruits too.


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How to leverage the Net Promoter Score

NPS is more than a measure of business health. It is a means to understanding your customers—past, current and future—and what drives them to (or away) from your business.

These are some of the ways NPS insights can be leveraged by key business divisions:


CEOs and leadership

Direct growth strategy: NPS measures brand loyalty and a business’s chance of gaining repeat business. This information can aid in your company’s cash flow predictions and strategic planning going forward.

Improve brand health and strategy: While the NPS number might indicate customer loyalty and the health of your brand, it can also provide insights into how well your business strategy is performing, as well as whether your product or service is aligned with customer expectations. Our clients, 99 Bikes, for example, use key insights from NPS data to drive their business strategy across Australia.

Uncover opportunities: Survey feedback can offer a wealth of insights into weaknesses plaguing your customer journey. Improve on these and you could see gains in various facets of your business.

Measure the impact of new initiatives: With the right NPS management system, you can identify trends and measure performance over time, allowing you to see the effect of any changes made within the business.

Assess performance: Depending on how you set your NPS systems up, you can compare performance across teams, offices, products and services—and allocate resource where it’s most needed. This is especially valuable for businesses with multiple branches and/or with individual consultants (such as a real estate agency). If a branch or consultant has a lower NPS than the rest, it may indicate that not everything is working optimally. This could be due to workload, insufficient training or inadequate systems or processes, and NPS feedback may help uncover this.

Create a customer-centric culture: NPS relies on customer insights to create a strategy of ongoing improvement and customer centricity. With the right platform, you can use NPS to capture feedback and uncover trends within that feedback to guide business decisions. Better yet, you can track what impact your changes have on your customers—from policy changes to new systems and processes.



Map out your customer journey(s): NPS feedback can reveal how customers interact with your business and the strengths and weaknesses of specific touchpoints. This can help you map out their path-to-purchase and focus your marketing efforts on the most influential touchpoints, or identify gaps along the journey.

Understand your audience: Your current customers can also help you develop buyer personas, which are representations of the kind of customer you want to attract, built from market research and data from your real customers, presented as a semi-fictional person. Personas can help inform strategy at every stage of the customer journey, leading to more effective marketing campaigns and better return on investment.

Engaging brand stories: Powerful word of mouth testimonials from your Promoters are a great source of case studies and can strengthen both brand consideration and preference over competitors.



More informed: Buyer personas equip salespeople to better anticipate and answer a prospect’s questions.

Tailor a sales approach: Different personas may respond better to different sales strategies. Having this information on hand means that your sales team can tailor their approach depending on the customer.

Prioritise leads: Sales teams can learn which prospects are most likely to become customers as well as discover at what stage customers are ready to purchase, through journey mapping. This can help them prioritise leads, become more efficient and achieve higher conversion rates.


Service and operations

Identify weak touchpoint: Be it online ordering, customer return processes or call centre response time, NPS feedback can help identify areas of friction and repair them before they cost you more customers.

Identify common support themes: This can help you implement self-service channels, such as a knowledge base or chatbot strategy, designed to quickly solve common customer issues. In turn, this frees up your customer support staff to tackle more complex service issues.

Save customers: With the right NPS management system, you can collect results daily and if you act fast, you may be able to repair the relationship with a customer and stop them churning. This won’t always be the case, but in addressing the issue quickly, you may save other customers from going through a similar experience.

Pinpoint painful touchpoints: With NPS, you can pinpoint painful customer touchpoints and understand the processes and interactions that shape them. For example, a survey may reveal that your returns process takes too long and is overly convoluted. This might prompt you to simplify the process and look into ways to resolve the issue quicker. With this painful touchpoint resolved, your customer journey will flow into a more seamless experience.

Better products and/or services: With NPS, a feedback loop is established, which gives you vital feedback on your products and services. If a software company, for instance, sees their NPS drop after the release of a new product, it could indicate that something is wrong. Further investigation may reveal that their new release has a bug when used on Linux systems. This then helps them to address the issue and improve the usability of their software.

Lastly, NPS can also uncover opportunities to expand or grow your products and services. Customers might say “I wish it did this” or “I thought it would do that, but it doesn’t”. While not positive, this feedback provides valuable insight into your customer needs and way in which you could meet them.

Recently, Burger King used an NPS programme to help them gain new insight into their customers, which has helped them develop a new range of products and refine their marketing strategy—with great success.

Case study: Customer insights deliver Whopper results for Burger King


Human resources

From a human resources perspective, NPS offers two opportunities:

Staff training and resourcing: Customer feedback can provide insight into where your business can improve, including where you can implement training to better equip staff to improve the experience they provide to your customers.

Employee engagement: Only 19 per cent of employees are inspired and satisfied in their line of work. Why is this important? You may work hard to keep your customers happy by collecting feedback across multiple touchpoints, and making improvements. But managing customer satisfaction externally is only part of the equation. What about the employees who serve your customers? Conducting an employee NPS (eNPS) survey can help you measure staff satisfaction and their willingness to be an ambassador of your brand, and ultimately, improve customer experience.

Tip: Share the feedback from your top promoters with your wider team, especially if they had a role in creating a great experience for a customer. Not only does it reinforce that they are doing the right thing, but it’s a great morale booster too.

When used correctly, NPS can help you implement smart, effective changes that impact on multiple levels of your business.


Collecting and acting on customer feedback has a unique way of re-aligning your business to the needs of your customer, and in doing so, transforming your approach to each business function, department and discipline.

—Tomas Dickson


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Practical advice on implementing NPS


Build your culture around NPS

Building a culture around NPS not only challenges both individuals and teams to deliver the best customer experience possible, it helps them understand how they contribute to those experiences. This is why NPS results should be shared across the organisation and employees continually encouraged to identify ways they can contribute to improving customer touchpoints.

Top tips for CX culture game changers
  • Define key customer journeys and customer success metrics for the different touchpoints along each journey.

  • Survey the different customer touchpoints across the business to pinpoint any sources of friction.

  • Measure CX from the top of the customer journey through to its finish.

  • Use employee feedback (for example via an Employee Net Promoter Score system) to identify any areas for improvement.

  • Establish solid leadership and governance structure to aid the shift to a customer-centric business.

  • Define and prioritise the outcomes that really matter, focus on the pain points and customer satisfaction issues that have the highest financial value. Analyse your satisfied and dissatisfied customers over time.

  • Assign a Chief Customer Officer to champion the customer journey across different teams within the business.

  • Acknowledge early wins and share them with relevant stakeholders to demonstrate that your programme delivers value.


Contact at-risk customers

As many as 96 per cent of unhappy customers don’t actually complain directly to the offending company, and 91 per cent of those will simply leave and never come back. When you’re not succeeding, most of the time you won’t even know.

Don’t panic if you’re getting bad feedback—it’s normal, even for successful companies. The important part is what you do about it, and how quickly you action it.

What does a satisfied customer look like? A satisfied customer values your product and services; would recommend your brand to their friends and family; and are loyal to your company. This means that their lifetime value will be high and cost you less to serve.

A dissatisfied customer, on the other hand, costs you more to serve, values your services less and is likely to easily go to one of your competitors.

How do you know you’re doing badly? A business loses its customers when either the following three (or all), of these scenarios occur. The customer:

1. Experiences a problem

2. Finds it hard to make contact with the company to ask for help, and

3. Is dissatisfied with the response they get.


What to do when you get bad feedback

You should welcome both bad and good feedback. It gives you the opportunity to learn from it. Listening to and learning from your unhappy customers (ideally through regular customer feedback surveys) creates a constructive feedback loop.

You need to thank your detractors for taking the time to provide feedback and express gratitude for them being honest. Ask them for the one thing you could do to change their experience with you. If they’re really unhappy, contact them personally and see what you can do to retain them as customers.


Four steps to dealing with unhappy customers

No matter whether you’ve just started using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or you’re an old hat at it, approaching your most unhappy customers—your detractors—is not always easy. Here are five tips to approach detractors.

1. Act fast. We recommend getting in touch within three working days. Waiting a week not only means your NPS survey is no longer fresh in your detractor’s mind, but it shows a lack of interest on your part, which can further damage your brand in the eyes of that customer.

2. Call first. As a broad-sweeping rule, calling is better than email. Where a phone call can convey tone and mood, emails do not—and it can lead to unintended grievances. However, if you’re an international business with overseas customers in different time zones, it may not always be viable to call.

In a recent study Perceptive conducted with GIO (Suncorp Group) that targeted injured workers, we found that 73 per cent of respondents would prefer a phone call rather than an email.

3. Keep it natural. When you get in touch with an unhappy customer, keep the conversation natural, rather than scripted. Following a cookie-cutter script for every phone call is a sure-fire way to irritate your detractor even further.

4. Listen and understand. When it comes to listening to your detractors, understand first, console second. Simply hearing them out can usually ease the pain. Most customers are looking for acknowledgement, and showing genuine compassion and empathy goes a long way.

5. Track your detractors. Keep tabs on what stage your detractors are at. Are they awaiting contact? Have they been contacted but have not responded? Are they resolved? This is particularly important if more than one person is contacting your detractors. Set a goal or KPIs and reinforce the right sets of behaviours shown above.

Suggested reading: The three Cs of dealing with customer complaints using
the Net Promoter Score



Thank your most loyal customers

If you conduct regular Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to get customer feedback, gauge sentiment, brand health and likelihood for repeat business, chances are you’ll know who your most valuable customers are.

These are the customers who give you a perfect score—10 out of 10, five stars, couldn’t have done any better. They are your most valuable promoters (MVPs), and it sometimes pays to thank them for it. Not only does it double down on a great experience, but they also give great testimonials!


How to prioritise your MVPs

Depending on the size of your business, it may not be practical to contact every MVP who gives your business a high score—sometimes you have to prioritise. For example, you may choose to order them by:

  • Those who have been uncontacted the longest since the survey.

  • Those most valuable to your business (e.g. those in a segment that does a lot of business with you).

  • Those with the highest net promoter scores (i.e. a 10).


Avoid NPS Inflation

Your Net Promoter Score program is intended to gather accurate, useful data. If you are skewing your results, one way or the other, you are producing the opposite. It doesn’t just make it seem like you’re doing better or worse than you are—it could impact your entire customer retention strategy, and not in a good way. If you want to avoid creating unintentional bias, don’t make any of these five common mistakes:


1. Leading questions

An effective email survey is all about accurate, unbiased communication. Your customers will receive an introduction email, the survey itself, and potentially a follow-up email—at a minimum. What is said in these emails could influence how customers respond to a significant degree.

One example of this is including something like: “Do you think we deserve a high score?”. Asking in this fashion means that you are placing too much significance on the score itself for the customer; simply asking this question so directly could also influence your customer into scoring higher than they otherwise might.

Honest feedback, even if it is negative, is valuable. The above example is extreme, but even subtle changes in word choice or phrasing could impact your survey results. Stay as neutral as possible if you want accuracy.


2. Poor timing

Compare these two surveys: one is asked just before you release a new product or start a significant marketing campaign, and one is asked just after. Do you think there could be a difference in the opinions of your customers?

This can be an effective way to determine the success of a single business move. But if you only ever ask when you are likely to receive high scores, you are not seeing the full spectrum of your customers’ everyday experience. The exception to this rule is when you’d send a touchpoint survey, for example onboarding a new customer or gathering feedback from board members. Ideally, you’d launch your survey in what’s referred to as a “steady-state” environment–your standard state of affairs with no big events either side.


3. Cherry picking your respondents

You might be cherry picking survey respondents without even knowing it: by selecting customers who are new on the platform, letting your sales or service team hand-select customers, or excluding customers likely to churn.

All of your customers who have the potential to influence the relationship with your company should be included in the contact list. It may be a good idea to have someone who is impartial to the business or process to review the list a final time before deploying the survey.


4. Skewing your data

Deciding what scores are included in your NPS equation can be tricky. It might seem sensible to include them all.

However, you need to consider decision makers compared to end users or multiple respondents from a single customer account. You risk skewing the score based on who’s invited to respond, who responds, how you weight respondents, and so on.

You can do this in several ways: count all of your responses, averaging them all, and the waterfall method. Regardless which approach you use, it’s important to remember that your process and methodology stay consistent when you analyse your survey results.


5. Survey method

You can deploy and monitor your surveys by several means, either online, over the phone, or in person. Each of these methods can impact responses.

People tend to be more honest (i.e. have a tendency to be more critical), when the survey doesn’t involve face-to-face contact. To avoid a positive skew, you should avoid face-to-face responses for this reason.

Phone surveys can work really well, but unless they’re conducted by an independent interviewer, they can be quite biased as well.

The best method overall is an online survey, for multiple reasons. They are completed behind the safety and anonymity of a computer screen, and when the respondent has enough time and is not rushed (usually they are very brief and quick). This allows for the most honest and reliable feedback.


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Common Net Promoter Score mistakes

If you want your NPS surveys to deliver powerful insights and help you grow customer loyalty, you need to consider the following factors and how they can affect your NPS surveys and response quality.


1. Long questionnaires

You’re having a busy day at work, and you’re sent an email with a questionnaire of 10 or even 20 questions. It may be from a company that you like and have a good relationship with, but how likely are you to fill it out?

You need plenty of responses to get a firm grip on your NPS, and people failing to respond could result in an invalid outcome. An inaccurate NPS percentage is even worse than not knowing it at all.

The solution? Keep it short. The “would you recommend?” NPS question is all you need in addition to a simple follow-up question such as: “What’s your reason for giving that score?”. Afterwards, you can apply additional measurement to your answers to seek out the reasons for the highs and lows.


2. Delaying follow-up

Sending out an NPS survey, but not having a plan behind it, is often the biggest mistake people make. You need a game plan for how to respond for every single possible response—that is, you need to be able to follow up with your detractors as quickly as possible to try to mitigate the damage to your NPS percentage.

The easiest way to do this is to have pre-created basic templates on all 11 possible NPS scores. These should include the potential for customisation with the customer’s name and ideally something related to the reason for their score. This makes following up on your NPS survey much more manageable. Make sure that you follow through in good time. This will ensure that your investment in NPS is effective.


3. Poor respondent selection

If you send all of your customers the same survey at the same time, it only gives you a point-in-time snapshot view. What if you’re planning to add features or functionality to your product next month? It could be three to six months before you see how that affects your score.

Drip feeding NPS over time allows you to capture customer sentiment more accurately.

The key here is to send out continuous NPS surveys to a portion of your customer base on a regular basis (be it daily, weekly or monthly, depending on your business) to get a rolling view and manage the feedback process more effectively.

One more thing: don’t send the survey out to the same people, no matter how high their response rates are. This isn’t just going to skew your results, it will also annoy your valuable and consistent respondents.


4. Not getting everyone involved

Sending out the surveys and gathering data can be a one person job. But subsequently using the insights from the surveys to improve the company’s customer experience should be a company-wide effort.

Involve more employees in the project, and create a few NPS “champions” in each team. Creating a cross-functional team and reporting back on the findings can also be an effective way to go about it.

Regardless of your methods, the goal of NPS is to make your company customer-focused. To do that, everybody needs to be on board.


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