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The 7 Biggest NPS Mistakes And How to Prevent Them

Many of the world’s best companies use NPS to measure customer loyalty including Amazon, Rackspace, Southwest Airlines, Harley-Davidson, Charles Schwab, Zappos, Costco, Vanguard, USAA and countless others.

But many companies, big and small, are doing NPS wrong.

When you first learn about NPS, you might wonder how you could do it wrong. After all, there are only two simple questions. But having spoken to hundreds of companies, I have noticed similar mistakes being made by companies of all sizes.

Here are the top 7 most common mistakes I have seen over and over again.

1. Don’t be a score chaser

score board

The Net Promoter Score is not an exercise in statistics, it is a “system”. The real growth power of NPS is in building authentic relationships with your customers AFTER they take the survey. Taking averages can be useful for spotting trends, but unlocking growth happens after the survey has been completed.

The key here is to focus more on the follow-up responses than your overall score.

2. Don’t ask too soon

Product recommendation

When doing Net Promoter survey after a purchase, most people send the survey immediately after the sale. If you want to measure the effectiveness of your shopping cart process, this might be the right strategy. But you can learn more by measuring the customer loyalty of your brand or the product purchased. If the customer hasn’t received the product or used your service yet, you should not be measuring NPS.

The key here is to give people a week (or sometimes two) AFTER the purchased product has been received before sending a survey to give them time to use the product. For an app or service, 30 days is usually a good time-frame before engaging.

3. Don’t forget to keep asking

ignoring

Just as bad as sending a survey too soon is to only send a single survey. Especially in recurring subscription businesses, it is even more insightful to track someone’s score over time. Score trends can give you unique insights into whether you are making progress in the right direction.

The key here is to make sure you are measuring NPS on a quarterly basis for recurring businesses.

4. Don’t embed NPS surveys inside a bigger survey

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Nesting NPS into a larger survey is one of the most common mistakes that big companies like T-Mobile and even Apple make. Part of the effectiveness of NPS comes from its high response rates. The high response rates come from the fact that it only looks like a 1-question survey that takes a couple seconds to respond to… not a 15-30 minute commitment. When you try to ask a lot more questions, it’s a turn-off for customers and ultimately hurts any attempts at deepening an authentic relationship with them.

The key here is to KISS (keep it simple). Don’t overthink it, just stay with the simple 2-question NPS.

5. Don’t do in-app NPS surveys

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It can be tempting to just embed an NPS survey in the screen people see after they have placed an order or while using your app, but you are making a few big mistakes when you do that. First, you’re measuring the customer sentiment for the workflow or product  INSTEAD of the overall brand. And brand loyalty is the best predictor for reducing churn using NPS, NOT product loyalty or a specific feature of your app. Second, it is not as personal as email. Done right, when you respond with a highly personalized follow-up, an email feels far more personal and therefore gets you a more honest response. In-app NPS surveys are for people who only care about the statistic and not deepening authentic relationships with customers.

The key here is to focus on building long-term relationships with customers through NPS, not just collecting data. Also, if you haven’t heard, most people don’t like popups interrupting them during a task. This leads to a very high dismissal rate and questionable accuracy.

6. Don’t send NPS surveys to all your customers at once

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When most people hear about NPS for the first time, they immediately want to go out and conquer the world by sending the survey to all their customers at the same time. But you must resist this urge because it will only give you a point-in-time snapshot. If you add features or functionality on a regular basis, it could be 3-6 months before you see how it affects your score. If you drip the NPS over time you will not only be able to capture customer sentiment in a more meaningful way, but you will also be able to give yourself more time to respond to surveyors on an individual basis.

The key here is to plan on doing continuous NPS, sending out a portion of your surveys every single day of the year in order to get a rolling view and manage the feedback process more effectively.

7. Don’t send NPS surveys without a follow-up plan

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The final, and in many ways biggest mistake I have seen over and over is people sending out an NPS campaign without a solid game-plan for how to respond for every single possible response. You should have contingency plans set up ahead of time for basic templates on all 11 possible scores, including areas where you can customize each response with the customer’s name and ideally something related to the reason for their score. This makes the most important part of NPS (the follow-up) a much more manageable process.

The key here is to plan the follow-through ahead of time. This will save you countless hours down the road and give you the most effectiveness for your NPS investment.

Conclusion

NPS can be one of the biggest drivers for reducing churn and increasing growth in your business, but only if you implement it correctly. Sadly, most people don’t know the common pitfalls which are easy to make. But now you know the difference between an A+ NPS campaign and an F. Implement these 7 suggestions and I assure you that you will notice a huge and immediate difference in your results.

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Chad Keck

As a product lead and executive for numerous successful ventures (Rackspace, HP Cloud, AppFog), Chad founded Promoter.io to help bring the actionable insights provided by Net Promoter to all businesses. He is a native Texan with a passion for helping other entrepreneurs.

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