Behind the Curtain: How We Use NPS to Grow Promoter

If it weren’t already obvious, Net Promoter is making a major resurgence. Every company, big and small, are now seeing that NPS is one of the most important measurements for their business.

In just the past two years, organic search for NPS related terms has increased by over 100%.

And, in the same amount of time, Promoter has grown by a staggering 455%, without spending a dime on marketing or paid customer acquisition.

In fact, just this week at the SaaStr Annual conference in San Francisco, Jay Simons from Atlassian stated, “End-user NPS is the most important leading indicator of future growth.”

[bctt tweet=”End-user NPS is the most important leading indicator of future growth – @jaysimons @Atlassian “]

NPS is serious business and has massive implications for your bottom-line (via growth and retention).

But, why the sudden surge in interest? After all, it’s been roughly 13 years since NPS as a concept was first introduced and some of the top companies in the world (Apple, Southwest Airlines, Nordstrom, USAA, etc.) have been using it religiously for nearly a decade.

Well, first, and possibly most important, NPS has been proven to be the most accurate and effective way to measure true customer sentiment (which is a predictor for behavior). There are plenty of products to monitor customer behavior, but NPS is the only true way to monitor intent. At least in a way that you’ll actually get customers to engage.

Also, up until just a couple of years ago, most companies believed that it was a tool used only by the largest and most elite corporations on the planet. Which is no longer true.

NPS is now accessible to companies of all sizes. In fact, Promoter was the first to offer a SaaS-based solution with enterprise features, making it reasonable for any company (big or small) to affordably use NPS.

So, what kind of company would we be if we didn’t measure and engage with customers using NPS ourselves?

If you’re a customer of Promoter, you undoubtedly know that we’re very prescriptive in our guidance of NPS best practices. So, of course, when it comes to our own usage, we tend to follow our own advice.

Here’s how we run our own NPS program

We do NPS daily – The process is continual. The real value of NPS is generated by responding and closing the loop with your customers. When you drip your surveys out each day, this allows you to effectively follow-up with each and every customer that has responded.

Also to note, NPS is most accurate over time. You don’t want to send large sets of surveys  when a singular event occurs, impacting your results either positively or negatively. This is a false reading. This same issue arises even when surveying randomly but all at once. Essentially you are flying blind until the next survey which is dangerous as sentiment changes rapidly and it becomes nearly impossible to effectively close the loop with large amounts of responses.

We start with our detractors – When we respond and close the loop with customers, we start with our detractors (hint: every company has them) then move to passives, and ultimately move to promoters. We don’t automate this process and we don’t provide canned responses. We read every bit of feedback, dig in to understand the issue and respond accordingly.

If it’s not obvious why you should be highly proactive and focus on detractors first, it’s because 40-50% of your detractors will churn within 90 days or less. That’s huge, but that’s not all. Passives (your “satisfied” customers) also tend to churn in high numbers, just over a longer period of time. Nearly 30-40% of your passives (the 7-8’s) will churn within 180 days. That could potentially be a massive amount of revenue you’re about to lose in a short order (or recover if you engage properly post-survey).

We take a very proactive approach with our detractors. It’s our opportunity to learn, prevent churn, build advocates and stop negative sentiment in its tracks. Quite often, our detractors will tell us exactly what we need to do to keep their business. We simply listen and act accordingly. Surprisingly, some of your strongest future promoters are detractors today who want your solution/product to work for them, but it simply doesn’t for one reason or another today.

We don’t ignore our passives – In many cases, passives represent the largest majority of your customer base. And, too often they go largely ignored. Companies mistakenly view them as content customers. This might be true in a sense, but contentment is negative in this case. As I mentioned previously, nearly 40% of passives will churn as well within a 6 month period. They are highly susceptible to competition in the marketplace. Why? Simply put, they are not LOYAL to the brand. There is a major disconnect between satisfaction and loyalty.

Think about brands you are truly loyal to. Something you’d never switch from, regardless of price, packaging, marketing, etc. That is how your customers need to feel about your brand to drive in strong organic growth, internal growth and strong retention.

Passives represent a BIG opportunity to capture additional revenue and grow lifetime value. They are sitting on the fence between displeased and ecstatic, so it’s imperative to engage with this group in a timely fashion.

We engage and strategically leverage our promoters – If you read last week’s post, you’ll know that your BIGGEST growth opportunity is within your current customers. Forget paid customer acquisition, your cheapest CPA channel is within your own customers.

80% … I repeat, 80%, of the customers that are willing to recommend you, are sitting on the sidelines awaiting instructions. They’re willing and able to drive new business for you, but they don’t know how.

[bctt tweet=”80% of the customers that are willing to recommend you, are sitting and awaiting instructions.”]

Our strategy is simple, we ask.

We don’t ask the same thing of everyone, nor do we automate our requests. We look at each promoter uniquely and identify the most useful request. That could be an introduction to a potential customer or investor, a testimonial or in-depth case study we could use for other customers, their participation in an article, a guest post on their blog, direct referrals, etc.

The point is, you must be strategic in how you leverage your promoters if you want to generate the best results. It takes time and effort, but it will pay off in spades.

We filter results and trend (tag) feedback – If you want critical and actionable insights, you need to be tying meaningful data and attributes to your NPS data. Who are your best and worst customers according to the data. Where are they located? How much do they spend? What plan are they on? How many purchases do they make on average? Etc.

We use attributes to help us break down NPS data on each of our plans, industries, locations, integrations used, number of surveys sent number of users per account, etc. We want to know precisely where our biggest opportunities exist, so we get granular.

In addition, we look for trends within the open-ended feedback we receive. If you’re doing NPS for yourself, this is an ABSOLUTE MUST. We read and tag each piece of feedback we receive to measure trends, along with assigning a sentiment to quantify the data for immediate action. This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of company changing decisions. Get rid of the subjective analysis.

We include everyone in the company – Lastly, as a transparent company, we feel it’s critical to keep everyone in the company informed on how we’re doing as a company — both financially and externally. The truth is, everyone in the company touches the customer, no matter if they’re an engineer or head of HR.

As a group of Slack super-users, we’ve chosen to send every piece of feedback we receive to a channel we aptly call, #nps-feedback. This allows anyone within our company to subscribe to the channel if they’d like to see incoming feedback in realtime. We even discuss the customer praise or concerns as a team.

If you’re a Promoter customer, the Slack integration is available to you as well.

So, that’s our approach. It’s one that has worked tremendously for us and one we prescribe to anyone using our product.

And, lastly, because we get asked so often, here is a snapshot of our own NPS campaign as of this week.


If you walk away from this post with just few pieces of advice, it’s this:

  1. Don’t focus on the score. In the end and by itself, it means nothing.
  2. Follow up with EVERYONE in some form. This is the magic behind everything.
  3. The more customer data you map to your NPS results (custom attributes) the more insight you’ll capture.
  4. NPS is a continual measurement that should be captured DAILY for a subset of customers. We help you do this in an automated fashion so there is no additional work involved.
  5. Trend every common bit of feedback from the verbatim responses to get a clear picture of what is driving the positive or negative sentiment at this point in time.

4 thoughts on “Behind the Curtain: How We Use NPS to Grow Promoter”

  1. Great article, Dana! Quick question. Since NPS includes only active customers (or employees) and doesn’t capture those who have already chosen to leave, is there a missing part of understanding the customer (or employee)? Does NPS help there? Thanks.

  2. Question about the #5 point. Trend every common bit of feedback from the verbatim responses to get a clear picture of what is driving the positive or negative sentiment at this point in time.

    How do you trend the feedback apart from the score?

    1. Great question. You assign tags to each piece of feedback that you receive. For example, if a customer says, “Love the product, wish it was a bit cheaper”, you would assign two tags: “Product” and “Cost”. Within Promoter, you can indicate/change the sentiment for each tag. So in this example, “product” would be positive, while “cost” would be negative.

      With those tags in place the Promoter software will create a trend analysis for you, showing where you’re out-performing and where you’re under-performing.

      You can see an example of this in our demo:

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