Why Doing In-App NPS Surveys Is a Bad Idea

I have made myself pretty unpopular lately by saying that In-App NPS is a huge mistake. Especially because many customers that are coming to Promoter.io ask us about doing an in-app version.

It’s hard because to an extent, the customer is always right. If there is demand, then as a business, it’s natural to want to fulfill that demand. And in fact, various competitors of ours will let you do In-App NPS surveys.

But it is also my responsibility to provide the best NPS platform possible. A platform that has the best opportunity to help businesses transform and get the most from their NPS process.

So let me try to explain why in-app NPS surveys are such a bad idea.

1) In-App NPS Measures the Wrong Score

At first, in-app NPS seems to make a lot of sense. After all, when better to gather feedback about your app than when your users are actually using it, right? Seems like an easy and fast way to get a lot of data quickly.

And it can gather a lot of data quickly. The problem is that it’s the wrong kind of data and the quality is questionable.

Think about what NPS measures: the loyalty of your relationship with your customer. How your customers feel about you in the moment they are using your service is one way to measure that. But it’s a skewed look, a fairweather customer. Nobody wants to tell you the whole truth when they are right in front of you.

But how the customer feels about you a few days or weeks later, in the perceived privacy of their own email inbox might be a lot different. And a lot more honest.

An in-app NPS survey will measure how they felt about the individual transaction or workflow they just had. But an email NPS survey (a true relationship measurement) a few days or weeks later will measure how they feel about your brand in overall…not just a single interaction with it.

And measuring brand loyalty is much more important and a far stronger predictive measurement than transaction loyalty.

2) In-App NPS Focuses Too Much On The Score

As we have shown before, the real magic behind NPS isn’t the survey, it’s in how to respond to survey results. The focus on In-App NPS is on calculating a score, which alone is not very actionable information. Knowing that your score is +20% or -40% is one thing. Building an authentic fan-base of customers who are ready and willing to promote anything you do is something entirely different.

And that’s completely possible to do with NPS surveys done correctly.

In-App NPS surveys are impersonal in nature. It’s just another button to press in yet another website. Most people spend less than 15 seconds on any website (and even most apps) per day. Do you really want 5 of those seconds to be used up taking your un-actionable In-App NPS survey?

On the other hand, one might argue that email-based NPS surveys won’t be seen by half of your customers who never open the email. That’s true, and you might be missing out on some opportunities there. But if a customer isn’t opening emails from you, how likely do you think they will be to be active engaged promoters of your brand?

Email NPS shows up in one of people’s most private places: their inbox. And when you respond to their survey with a personal follow-up that shows you read what they had to say, it becomes ultra-personal very quickly. That’s how you cultivate true loyalty and action: through personal touches.

3) In-App NPS Is a Turn Off and Feels Intrusive

Think about your personal experiences: How do you feel when you’re presented with a survey that interrupts your workflow? That’s probably how your customers feel as well.

When they are using your app, they are trying to solve a problem. Why are you trying to get in their way from solving their problem? By doing so, you are shooting yourself in the foot.

This leads to high dismissal rates and low open text feedback (if any) from those who do score. Many of the scores are questionable as well as some customers/users will just click anything to dismiss the survey.

Aside from the various other benefits we have already touched on, email is a much less intrusive way to gather the feedback you are looking for. Especially when you are using a system like Promoter.io which allows your customers to send their feedback in with a single click and at their convienence.


Technically, we could build an In-App version of Promoter.io quickly. It’s not a big programming challenge. But it is a direct challenge to the core principles we believe in.

We believe that NPS can be a key growth-driver for organizations who put it correctly into practice.

We believe that NPS surveys should be the beginning of conversations with your customers, not the end of them.

We believe that NPS should not be about the score as much as it is about creating new growth opportunities for any business.

And in the end, in-app NPS does not align with any of these goals. If we figure out a way to create an in-app NPS survey that does align with these goals at some point in the future, we might change our mind. But for now, we will leave In-App NPS for the score chasers who haven’t yet realized the true potential of NPS.


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.