Improve Your NPS Score

how to Improve Your NPS Score

Getting a better NPS score relies on strategizing and making significant changes to your customer service offering. It might sound obvious, but it’s simple enough to set up a customer satisfaction feedback tool and see the results. The real challenge is to influence improvement in the scores over time. Once you get it right, the combination is extremely powerful.

Improving your NPS score is a marriage between action, analysis and planning. In order to consistently improve your NPS score, you will need to formulate a plan of action. If you haven’t already, start your NPS program today.

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How to get a better NPS score

Improving your NPS score comes down to accurate measurement and a plan of action. We have come up with the four golden rules to improve your NPS score:

Think of customers as people first (and only then consider technology)

Shep Hyken writes insightfully about the human aspect of customer service. He reminds us that we’re not only processing a claim, but addressing a person with a problem:

The key is to do it in such a way that also restores confidence. That means with the right attitude, a sense of caring, empathy and urgency.

Customer service agents are often the first port of call for customers. It’s a crucial point to follow up after their interaction to ask if they would promote your business to a friend. But you’ll want to have done your utmost to ensure the customer’s confidence in you.

What if you don’t have a respectful, empathetic, and genuine customer service wrap? If this is the case, there’s likely no need to ask for an NPS rating. You’ll already know the answer, and it’s not good.

nps promoters

Getting more people to “promote” you is a mentality, not a metric

Focusing solely on NPS numbers is dangerous as it can mean you lose the human approach in favour of the metric. Try not to let the process dehumanize your business. Focus instead on what makes your feedback process interesting. The mentality of truly wanting to act upon their feedback will become apparent to customers in how you approach their issues.

Develop a positive and proactive mentality towards your service wrap. The effect is self-perpetuating. This is when your customers will truly want to promote you. After that, the numbers will speak for themselves.

dealing with NPS detractor

When things go badly – action and heed the service recovery paradox

The core benefit of gaining customer feedback at regular touchpoints is the ability to gauge when a customer is becoming dissatisfied. Otherwise you might not realize you have an unhappy customer until they’ve left, or a negative online review shows up. This is a failure to use customer NPS effectively.

Acting upon regular customer feedback allows you to prevent customers from leaving. But more than that, fast action can be a real boost to customer satisfaction. The ability to anticipate and react to dissatisfaction, then tackle it (ideally without the customer needing to ask) is the perfect way to capitalise on the ‘service recovery paradox’.

The service recovery paradox occurs when there has been a service failure followed by a successful recovery. This process of turning a negative experience into a positive one can elevate customer sentiment to a new, higher equilibrium. An ideal time to validate their point of view with feedback in the form of an NPS score.

customer service recovery paradox customer thermometer

When things go well – make sure you celebrate and share success

Focusing on NPS scores changes internal mindsets and dynamics. This can lead to an increase in positive feedback and NPS ratings. Respondents want to respond when it’s fun, engaging and easy. Everyone enjoying a great experience will be able to tell you in seconds!

This makes the process infinitely more rewarding for both your business and your employees. You can publicize NPS scores and positive reviews as part of marketing efforts. And big-up customer-facing staff who’ve made the difference; motivating others around them to set their standards higher. At Customer Thermometer, we put our customer service KPIs on a live feed!

Embed a culture of positivity around customer success into your company. It’s one of the best ways of creating a team to constantly drive NPS improvement.

celebrate nps success

How to get a better NPS score through smarter measurement

We’ve examined how to manifest a good NPS score through your actions. Now let’s look at some NPS hacks. In other words, impacting NPS scores just by changing how you measure NPS.

Don’t make NPS questions/surveys too long or difficult to respond to. Don’t ask at the wrong time or with the wrong question. Making these simple errors will give you an unrepresentative view. That’s very, very important because the most determined respondents are typically the unhappiest! Don’t do anything that makes your NPS score harsher than it should be.

Also, there are only a few times when the NPS question “makes sense” to customers. Some organizations ask it too early in the engagement cycle and get lower response rates than normal. Likewise, asking the “would you recommend us?” question raises questions of its own. It causes some customers to worry that saying ‘yes’ will commit them to make good on their promise. They fear you’ll be on their case asking for a recorded testimonial or Google review!

1. Collect NPS score feedback at appropriate points

You don’t want to pester customers with constant questions about their experience. We’ve all received an email after a customer service experience asking what we thought. But why is it so often days, weeks or even months after the event? It makes no sense. The respondent has likely lost interest or forgotten about the experience.

Helpdesks, for example, using a simple 1-click survey embedded within the ‘ticket closed’ email, encompass the customer experience at just the right time. This encourages the customer to engage with the feedback email and will improve overall response rates.

Want to see an example for yourself:

How did we do today NPS example

2. Respect people’s time and don’t make NPS score gathering onerous

NPS scores can be elicited by questioning customers in any number of ways. Often this means lumping it in with lots of other unrelated questions as part of a longer customer survey. Such longform surveys are a pain because they take ages to fill out. Customers don’t care that you have lots of CX metrics you want to tally. Beware the survey that is so ill-judged that it causes dissatisfaction all by itself! 

Lengthy, multi-question surveys also suffer from very low response rates. They are seldom, if ever, representative. It stands to reason. When you’ve experienced customer service and get asked to complete a ‘5-minute survey’, are you honestly likely to engage? We recommend 1-click NPS surveys, where you can ask any question – and find out instantly what the customer thought. So you get high response rates, but each response is rich with data. It’s a win-win.

3. Close the loop on NPS responses

Before you start gaining regular feedback, determine a process for dealing with different kinds. The process is going to be different according to whether they are positive or negative. Negative feedback, you can fix. Positive, you can optimize. We’ve got some great response planning resources for you to draw upon.

close the loop nps

It’s futile to introduce a professional customer feedback system without knowing what you’ll do before it arrives. For NPS scores, you could introduce some SLAs to your managers:

  • 0-6 = senior manager calls customer within 4 hours. Gives swift apology and resolution to drive service recovery.
  • 7 and 8 = comments are captured and shared for training. How could we have driven better satisfaction with these customers?
  • 9 and 10 = customer thanked. Customer rep or team are mentioned in team meeting; actions noted and replicated.

Some of the best turnarounds happen when a senior person responds fast. For example, by personally constantly the unhappy customer to gather their feedback. It defuses the situation and the customer thinks “wow, they really care about me”.

Have a timescale in which you will respond. Contact the unhappy customer within an hour for example, or promise to fix their issue within a day. Make sure it’s a commitment you can keep, and organize your people to deliver against it. Then check back after an agreed period to ensure the customer is happy.

Customer Thermometer has a dedicated Closed Loop feature for ensuring that NPS response processes are completed to auditable standards.

4. Measure small and act BIG

The key to improving NPS scores is to build up your processes in manageable areas. Set small and achievable SLAs and plan for next steps once you’ve reached them. Taking smaller steps will be more rewarding, motivating and sustainable too. And less risky than attempting to throw everything at getting an arbitrary metric from point A to point B. 

10 Strategies for dealing with NPS responses

nps action strategy plan

How to respond to NPS detractors

NPS detractors are a threat to your organization. Even the best-performing companies will have some customers who not only won’t recommend them, but will actively recommend others to go elsewhere.

Be realistic

The ultimate goal with NPS detractors is to convert them into NPS promoters. That’s quite an ask, however. Is it reasonable to expect you have the power to ‘convert’ a customer who actively dislikes you into an advocate? It seems unlikely, at least within a short timescale. Converting NPS detractors into NPS advocates is a laudable, and achievable, long-term goal. However, a more realistic short to medium-term goal is to turn NPS detractors into NPS passives.

Accept the ‘zone of tolerance’

The ‘zone of tolerance’ concept is a useful way of thinking about the dynamics at play here. The author Leonard Berry came up with it. His idea is that the extremes of negative and positive customer experience can be defined like that because they are memorable. So, when customers score high or low on NPS, it’s because their memory is triggering something positive or negative that they can easily recall. This applies here because the gap between these two extremes (the zone of tolerance) is where customers are ambivalent because they can’t remember anything consequential about their experience. 

Customers within the zone of tolerance aren’t necessarily happy, or unhappy. In this way they are classic NPS passives – people who score 7 or 8 on the NPS scale. Some will be happy, just not quite happy enough for things to be memorable. Likewise, others will be unhappy with their experience being somewhat underwhelming or barely adequate – but still tolerating it.

Aim for passives from detractors

Getting NPS detractors to become NPS promoters means taking them from memorably bad experiences to memorably good ones. That’s a big jump. Because NPS detractors are so damaging, your best bet is to neutralize them – at least in the first instance. In other words, you want to consciously try and nudge NPS detractors into the zone of tolerance by making their negativity forgettable. You can do this by:

  • Finding what NPS detractors have in common in terms of their reasons for giving low NPS scores. These reasons should lead you to relatively minor changes in process and engagement that remove friction and irritation. It won’t make them wonder at how great your company is, but it might alleviate their issues enough to turn them ‘passive’ the next time you invite them to score you.
  • Closing the loop on individual NPS detractors. This has the effect of making a difference at an individual level. The bonus is that, doing this regularly, you get through a lot of detractors and the changes you implement benefit others and avoid problems that trigger low NPS scores.  

How to respond to NPS Passives

This is actually a less common target for NPS strategy. Most organizations focus on firefighting the urgent issue of NPS detractors. There’s a lot to be said for spending at least some of your time and resources on NPS passives.

The primary reason for this is because NPS passives are perilously close to being NPS promoters. It’s the difference between an 8 and a 9! Flipping NPS passives into becoming NPS promoters is a great way to make your NPS metrics look better. And in the real world, it should be having a meaningful effect on loyalty, retention and proactive word of mouth too.

Fine is OK… Sometimes

If you could sum up NPS passives in one word it would be “fine”. They are just fine; OK; alright. They aren’t fired up about your business, and that’s the gap you need to close.

Returning to the zone of tolerance concept, this is where NPS passives live. To pull them out of it, you need to elevate the forgetability of their experience into something genuinely memorable.

Be memorable

You can do that by:

  • Asking NPS passives what it would take to increase their NPS scores to a 9 or a 10 – and implementing some changes along these lines.
  • Exploring why NPS promoters are so positive about you and see how to grow these experiences to all customers.
  • Injecting some magic touches into the customer experience. Examine the customer journey in detail and see what opportunities there are to adding extra value, thoughtful gestures and empathy. These ‘moments’ are genuinely memorable so try to create more of them. 

Some passives will always be passives

Another important reason to focus a strategy around NPS passives is to mitigate risk. Passives are constantly in danger of sliding down into ‘detractor’ territory if their expectations dip. This is especially the case if you are operating a parallel strategy for NPS detractors that dominates the majority of your attention. If you’re not careful, you spend all your time trying to push the same detractors into the passive category only to have them fall back down again. Sooner or later they will churn.

Forrester did some research into the tendency of most companies to prioritize elevating negative customers (detractors) versus ‘middling’ customers (passives). The results are extremely enlightening. Companies who spend more effort on passives make significantly larger revenue gains compared to those preoccupying themselves with detractors only. It is worthwhile to examine exactly how many detractors and passives you have in your customer base, and their relative lifetime value (LTV), in order to guide your prioritization.

How to deal with NPS promoters

The optimum plan for NPS promoters is to keep them as NPS promoters. This will require you to continue to deliver value.

As well as the retained revenue from their ongoing custom, you get additional value by benefiting from their recommendations. Where possible, you should track these recommendations through a referral program. This will enable you to determine the relationships between customers saying they recommend you and actually recommending you. You can also attach incentives or rewards to such programs.

Maximise value

Keeping NPS promoters on side also enables you to extract maximum value from their insights and experiences. All ‘extreme’ feedback is highly valuable. Just as “a complaint is a gift” (in that it gives you valuable intelligence) so does a very happy customer. You can learn a lot, and have this inform decision making, and continue to do so over time. Beyond this, you can potentially elicit testimonials, marketing case studies, independent reviews, participation in product testing, and more.

It All Starts With A Free Trial Create a free Customer Thermometer account (No credit card required – Fully functional account). Set up an NPS survey and discover why over 10,000 teams choose CT to track, measure and improve their NPS program.