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How to Get More Insights from Your NPS

5 min read
Customer Experience
How to Get More Insights from Your NPS

The NPS is often regarded as the ultimate metric for business, but once you have it, how can you use it to get ahead? 

So you got your brand’s latest Net Promoter Score (NPS). What do you do?

A.Be happy as long as it’s higher than zero, and add the NPS to your next batch of reports.

B.Compare your NPS to the industry benchmarks and wonder how you can improve your score.

C.Glance quickly at the NPS and then move on to the follow-up question responses.

If you answered A, B, or “What follow-up questions?”, you’re missing the most important part of any NPS-based initiative.

Follow up on the NPS question

Net Promoter Score is determined by one “ultimate” question:

How likely is it that you would recommend {Brand X or Company X} to your friends or colleagues?

The NPS’ creator, Bain & Company, says knowing whether customers are likely to recommend you is important because it’s a predictor of customer loyalty and repeat purchases — and hence a predictor of profits.

But Bain & Company also warns that if you don’t know the reasons customers choose to recommend (or not recommend) your brand, you can’t take any specific action on the information. So it’s vital to follow up the NPS question with an open-ended “Why?” question.

OK, you could simply add a quick “Why?” after the NPS question in your surveys and leave it at that. It’s certainly better than never asking why at all.

But you’ll get better results if you maximize the insight you gain from the follow-up — so why not use the data you’ve already collected to tailor the question to the respondent’s initial answer?

Tailored follow-up questions improve responses

When you invite comments in response to an open-ended question, the way you present the question has a powerful influence over the usefulness of the answers you collect.

Imagine turning to your follow-up question and reading responses like these:

  • “I was pleased.”
  • “Everything was OK.”
  • “Because you suck!”

That’s what you get when your follow-up question asks for “the primary reason for the score you gave us,” without any personalization or guidance on the type of response you need.

You can’t plan any action based on those responses, because they don’t answer the question “Why?” in enough depth to give you a clue what you should do next.

Now imagine you got responses like these instead:

  • “I recommend you all the time because your products are perfect for solopreneurs like me — they’re so easy to use, it only took me ten minutes to get up and running. Without your products I would’ve spent a lot of time and money hiring an expert to do all this stuff for me, but now I have money in the bank instead!”
  • “I thought everything was OK, but I’d recommend you more if I got some kind of reward for doing it, like a discount code or a special perk next time I’m in-store.”
  • “I was really disappointed with the delivery process. It took too long, and I spent a lot of time not feeling certain my item was on its way because there was no support for me to track the order.”

Finally! Information you can act on. Oh, and a fantastic testimonial, too.

How do you get this type of actionable feedback?

Ask the right follow-up questions

When you’re talking to detractors (those who answer 6 or lower on the ten-point scale from which your NPS is derived), the important question is why they don’t feel your brand is worth recommending to people they know.

Bear in mind that a bad experience isn’t the only reason people respond with low scores to that recommendation question. It could also be because your product serves a narrow niche and your respondent doesn’t have any acquaintances who’d be interested. Or perhaps everyone your respondent knows already uses your product!

An ideal follow-up for detractors is something like,

“Sorry you don’t feel able to recommend X. We’d love to know how we can improve what we’re doing. What was missing or disappointing in your experience with X?”

When your respondent gives a neutral answer (7 or 8) to the NPS question, what you really need to know is how to close that small gap and turn them into loyal promoters of your brand. So that’s what to ask:

“Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback with us. If we could do just one thing to make you more likely to recommend us, what would it be?”

And when you’re dealing with promoters (those who answer 9 or 10), you have the perfect opportunity to ask them what they value about what you do.

“Thanks for your feedback — we’re glad to hear you’re happy with X! If you were recommending X to a friend, what one reason would you give them to try it?”

Some of the answers may surprise you; value perception is highly individual. But if you see the same answer over and over again, you’ve nailed down your biggest value proposition.

Don’t hang back

Any good survey software will let you automate this follow-up personalization process so you can deliver the right follow-up question in real time. The technological barrier to entry is low here, and the return on investment is high.

Next time you look at an NPS survey report, focus on those follow-up answers. And do something about them.

Resolve customer service issues, make personalized offers to change detractors’ minds, and rain down gratitude on your promoters. The result? Lower customer churn, happier customers, more loyalty and more referrals.


If your competitors aren’t doing all this, you can get leaps ahead by implementing one simple tweak to your NPS survey. And if your competitors are doing this, it’s about time you caught up.

To learn more about our philosophy on customer insight click here. To share your experiences with NPS reach out on LinkedIn we’d love to hear from you!

Read more about NPS.


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