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The Only Way to Improve Your Net Promoter Score

This might sound kind of weird to hear me say but, as a company, your goal shouldn’t be to simply “increase your NPS score”.

Let me explain.

Your Net Promoter Score is simply a reflection of your customers’ sentiment. It’s a result of your efforts, not the goal itself.

If you’re solely focused on increasing your NPS score for the sake of a higher score, you’re missing the point of the whole process.

If you're solely focused on increasing your NPS score, you're missing the point of the process. Click To Tweet

Over the years, we’ve seen many tactics used by providers to attempt to “game” the NPS score ranging from manipulating the order of the numbers to leading a customer to a more sympathetic response.

What’s the point?

NPS isn’t a competition, there is no trophy at the end for the company with the best “score” if it’s not truly representative of actual customer sentiment towards the brand.

It’s a measurement. A way to understand how you’re doing amongst your customers. Superficially increasing it is not important, but … improving it is.

When we decided to build Net Presidential Score, the NPS tool we’re using to predict the Presidential election, we did so because there seemed to be a lot of trickery and manipulation in political polling at all levels. We felt there needed to be a better way.

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We built Net Presidential Score to more accurately measure the Presidential Election using NPS.

In our research, we discovered that there were polling methods that would lead the voter towards a certain candidate based on the ordering of the questions. For example, a question might be, “The economy needs to improve – yes or no?”, followed by “Would you vote for a candidate most likely to improve the economy?”, leading the pollster to tee up the candidate they favored.

In political polling, manipulating the score and pushing a candidate has become somewhat of a norm. That’s why we built a polling system using NPS. Rather than leading voters with manipulating questions, the candidates are scored based on the sentiment of the voters. A factor they can’t manipulate.

And, the same goes for any company measuring the sentiment of their customers using NPS. You simply can’t lead them to a better score, you need to listen to their feedback, acknowledge and engage them, take real action and improve as a company (inside and out in many cases — we’ll talk about Employee NPS later).

At Promoter, there is a distinction we make between “Increasing your Net Promoter Score” and “Improving your Net Promoter Score”. While they may seem similar in terminology, they represent the right and wrong way to think about NPS.

Increasing your Net Promoter Score puts you in the mindset of only focusing on a number, not the reasoning behind it.

In the book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, the author Robert Kiyosaki talks about the difference between a “poor” and “rich” person’s mindset, by describing how they think about purchases. A poor person might say, “I can’t afford that”, while a rich person would say, “how can I afford that”.

In a similar way, saying “How can I improve my NPS score or the overall customer experience” instead of “I need to increase my NPS score” gets you set on the path of thinking about the actions you need to take to actually make a difference.

Improving your Net Promoter Score is thinking about the specific factors that impact the sentiment of your customers. It brings your focus to the core of the solution — your customers.

As I noted in a previous post, we recently had a client (one that serves millions of customers per month) that shared with us that their NPS score has grown from an average of 15 to an average of 65 in less than one year. When we asked how they did it, their answer was simple: They listened to the feedback of their customers, had meaningful discussions and made systematic improvements to their product.

This is the one (and only) way to truly improve your NPS score and change how customers’ fundamentally perceive your brand or products.

I’ll say it again, your score is a result of your efforts. If you’re not listening, engaging and acting on what your customers are telling you, you WILL NOT improve your score and you will see little benefit from Net Promoter as a process. NPS as a numerical metric or “KPI” is essentially meaningless on its own.

 

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When you focus on the things that improve your NPS score instead of worrying about how to increase it, you’ll see the true impact that the Net Promoter Score methodology can have on your business.

Believe us, it is a game changer.

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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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  • Paul Sondhi

    Love this concept. Definitely applicable to a lot of different aspects of business, and life in general. Reminds me of the paradox of hedonism (the most important thing I learned in college): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_hedonism