Surveys, the ultimate question, and the net promoter score


The above poll is an example of an ultimate question that can be used to calculate a net promoter score.

If you’re a Subscription customer and you’ve logged some support cases, you may have received a survey invitation. You may have even filled the survey out 😉

These customer satisfaction surveys are based on the Net Promoter methodology, which uses a “would you recommend” question to divide customers into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

The “would you recommend” question is known as the ultimate question, and uses a 0-to-10 point rating scale:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

Based on the survey results, a Net Promoter Score is calculated:

The general idea is that if you know your NPS, you can focus in on what you need to change to increase promoters and decrease detractors. This requires a dialog with your customers; currently support managers are responsible for following up with detractors to find out what went wrong during the support case.

So far, in practice, what I observe is that we don’t get enough surveys returned, so every single detractor has a huge impact on our NPS. Looking at my own NPS scores, I think I would have to focus not on detractors (unless I really messed up) but rather on the passives. Because if you had only one detractor, but everybody else was a passive, you’d end up with a negative NPS. Hardly something to brag about, and certainly not something that will look good to management.

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