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  • Writer's pictureElliot Fern

Exploring the Benefits and Disadvantages of Net Promoter Score (NPS) in Surveys

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) has gained significant popularity as a customer satisfaction metric and survey tool. NPS measures customer loyalty by asking a simple question: "How likely are you to recommend our product/service to a friend, family member or colleague?" (based on a scale of 0-10 where 0 is very unlikely and 10 is very likely). It appears on pop-ups on websites, waiting rooms in hospitals and in customer service surveys. While NPS offers several benefits, it is crucial to understand its limitations to make informed decisions when incorporating it into your survey strategy.

Benefits of NPS in Surveys:

  1. Simplicity and Ease of Use: One of the major advantages of NPS is its simplicity. The survey question is straightforward and easy for respondents to understand, resulting in higher response rates. The scoring system, typically ranging from 0 to 10, allows for quick and easy analysis, making it a time-efficient method for assessing customer loyalty. It is usually displayed in a stacked bar chart or line chart if tracking over time.

  2. Focus on Customer Loyalty: NPS primarily focuses on measuring customer loyalty by identifying promoters (respondents who are likely to recommend) and detractors (respondents who are unlikely to recommend). This classification enables businesses to identify their most loyal customers and understand their potential for organic growth through positive word-of-mouth referrals.

  3. Actionable Insights and Benchmarking: NPS provides actionable insights that help organisations identify areas for improvement. By analysing the feedback from detractors, companies can pinpoint specific pain points and take corrective actions. WordClouds are a quick way of determining such themes. Moreover, NPS allows for benchmarking against industry competitors or previous scores, facilitating performance tracking and goal setting.

  4. Integration with Business Strategy: NPS can be integrated into broader business strategies, providing a customer-centric framework. By aligning NPS goals with organisational goals, companies can focus on enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty, which can ultimately lead to improved customer retention and recommendation.

Disadvantages of NPS in Surveys:

  1. Limited Contextual Information: NPS surveys often lack detailed context due to their simplicity. While the score provides an overall indication of customer loyalty, it fails to capture specific reasons behind customers' likelihood to recommend or not. To gain deeper insights into customer sentiments and motivations, supplementary open-ended questions or additional survey methods may be necessary.

  2. Lack of Standardisation: Organisations should exercise caution when using NPS as a standalone metric without considering industry-specific nuances. The banking sector average 'NPS' tends to be more negative rather than the retail 'NPS' which can be more positive for example.

  3. Potential for Response Bias: NPS surveys may be prone to response bias. Some customers may provide extreme scores without offering constructive feedback, resulting in less actionable insights. Additionally, respondents might interpret the recommendation question differently based on their personal criteria, leading to inconsistency and subjective responses. One respondent may only give an 8 as their highest score, meaning they'll never be a Promoter (and remain a Passive). Alternatively, a respondent may give a 6 which could be considered a 'good' score however they would be a detractor.

  4. Incomplete Picture of Customer Experience: While NPS focuses on customer loyalty, it does not provide a comprehensive view of the entire customer experience. Other metrics, such as customer satisfaction (CSAT) or customer effort score (CES), can complement NPS by capturing different aspects of the customer journey. Relying solely on NPS may overlook critical touchpoints that influence customer perceptions and behaviour.

Conclusion: Net Promoter Score (NPS) offers significant advantages as a customer satisfaction metric in surveys. Its simplicity, focus on loyalty, and actionable insights make it a valuable tool for understanding customer sentiment. However, it is essential to recognize the limitations of NPS, such as its lack of context, potential bias, and the need for supplementary metrics. By considering both the benefits and disadvantages, organisations can leverage NPS effectively while also embracing a holistic approach to measuring and improving the customer experience.

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