My Net Promoter Score is 24, now what? (why your score doesn’t say much)

On the way to the coffee shop for your second double strong skim mocha of the day, you bump into the CEO and she asks…

What’s this month’s NPS?

“Ummm… 24” you respond and she walks away happy that it’s up, or unhappy that it’s down, from last month.

While it’s great the CEO is engaged in the feedback process and it seems like a good question to ask, it’s not. What your CEO should really be asking is…

What’s driving our NPS and what are we doing to fix it?

A lot has been made of the “One number you need to know” Monica that original Net Promoter Score championed. And, while it may be the one NUMBER you need to know, it’s by no means the one thing you need to know.

Collecting the score is the easiest and least useful thing you can do. You also need to know:

  1. What is important to your customers
  2. What is not important to your customers
  3. How you can improve

Without these three key pieces of information you have a score but no way to improve it. It’s like driving your car, knowing exactly how fast you’re going, but not having a steering wheel or gas peddle. Interesting information but worthless.

How to determine what is, and is not, important to your customers?

Simple right — just ask. You could just add a question like this to your survey:

“How important is price in your purchase decision?”

But it’s also pretty easy to guess how customers will respond to that question, 10 out of 10, but it’s probably not nearly so important.

Asking customers what’s important doesn’t generally work because they either don’t know (or can’t know) or they tell you what they want you to hear. Hence 10 out of 10 for the importance of price.

One way to determine what is important is ask how well you are performing for different aspects of your product or service. Then use some moderate level statistics to determine the impact (importance) the aspect has on the respondent’s overall customer loyalty (the NPS value).

The simplest approach is statistical correlation and/or linear modelling between the aspect score and the NPS.

Importantly, both can be also done with an Excel spreadsheet and little thought. With this information you can better focus your energy for the most impact on loyalty. Of course you should start with the most important aspects.

How to improve?

Now you know what you need to improve you need to know HOW to improve.

For that you will need a text responses question. The details customers provide in their text responses tell you where you’re going wrong so you can make the right changes in your business.

The question can be simple, such as:

“Please tell us a bit more why you provided those scores.”

Then to understand the “how” you have a few different ways you can analyse this text feedback.

Read every comment

The first and most simple is to just read all the comments and see if there is a pattern.

Are most people talking about the size of your waiting room or number of widgets you put in a pack? If so you need to start fixing those issues.

This works well for small numbers of comments, up to 100, but after that it can become difficult to manage so you need ways to filter, or tag, the responses. Here are two ways to do that.

1. Review comments for low aspect scores

First rank the comments based on their score for one of the important aspects, from low to high.

Then review the comments for information and insights about what they dislike about that aspect. You should find the the lowest scores yield the most information.

2. Tag comments for each aspect

Tagging comments simply means putting a code, or codes, against each comment that indicates the main theme.

To tag comments, put them in a spreadsheet with a column for aspect in your survey. Then put a “1” in the column if the comment mentions that aspect.

Use a “1” because you can do some more analysis with the information, e.g. sum the column to see how many comments reference a specific aspect.

Filter your spreadsheet by one or more aspects and you can review all of the comments that relate to those aspects. Now you have some insights into what is driving that score and how you can improve the score.

You can even sub-tag comments if you find more than one theme coming up. To do that just create some new columns, one for each theme, and tag the comments again.

There are software systems that can automatically tag comments but they tend to be expensive and need a substantial investment in setup before they are useful.

Manual tagging can be quicker and more effective when you’re starting out in the process.

Now, the next time your CEO passes you in corridor you’ll be able to suggest a better question, and answer.

Andrej Csizmadia

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