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How to Improve Your Net Promoter Score: 12 Proven Strategies

Posted by Kevin Yun | Last updated Mar 19, 2024

Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become a vital metric for measuring customer loyalty and satisfaction. As a key indicator of business health and growth potential, improving your NPS can lead to increased customer retention, higher revenue, and a stronger competitive advantage. But how exactly can you boost your Net Promoter Score?

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore 12 proven strategies to elevate your NPS and transform your customer experience. Whether you're just getting started with NPS or looking to take your program to the next level, these actionable tips will help you drive meaningful improvements across your organization.

Table of Contents

  1. Optimize Your NPS Survey Design
  2. Increase Survey Response Rates
  3. Implement Effective Survey Timing
  4. Analyze All Customer Segments
  5. Choose the Right Survey Channels
  6. Benchmark Against Competitors
  7. Track Progress Over Time
  8. Close the Feedback Loop
  9. Conduct Root Cause Analysis
  10. Tie NPS to Revenue
  11. Secure Organization-Wide Buy-In
  12. Leverage Technology for NPS Improvement

1. Optimize Your NPS Survey Design

The foundation of any successful NPS program is a well-designed survey. While the core NPS question remains constant, how you structure the rest of your survey can significantly impact the quality and quantity of feedback you receive.

Keep it Short and Sweet

Resist the temptation to ask too many questions. Long surveys lead to lower completion rates and potentially less thoughtful responses. Aim to keep your survey to 6 questions or fewer, including the main NPS question.

Include Open-Ended Follow-Up Questions

After the standard NPS question, include an open-ended question asking respondents to explain their rating. This qualitative feedback is invaluable for understanding the "why" behind your scores and identifying specific areas for improvement.

Use Cascading Questions Strategically

Cascading questions can help you dig deeper into specific topics without overwhelming all respondents. For example, if a customer indicates they had a negative experience with customer support, you can ask follow-up questions specifically about that interaction.

Personalize When Possible

Use the data you have about your customers to personalize surveys. This might include referencing recent interactions or purchases, which can increase engagement and provide more relevant feedback.

2. Increase Survey Response Rates

A high response rate is crucial for obtaining accurate and representative NPS data. Here are some tactics to boost participation:

Set Clear Expectations

Let customers know upfront how long the survey will take and what you plan to do with their feedback. This transparency can increase willingness to participate.

Optimize Survey Timing

Send surveys at times when customers are most likely to respond. This might be shortly after a purchase or interaction, or during times when your target audience is typically less busy.

Use Multiple Channels

Don't rely solely on email. Consider using in-app surveys, SMS, or even phone calls to reach customers through their preferred channels.

Offer Incentives (Carefully)

Small incentives can boost response rates, but be cautious not to introduce bias. Consider offering a chance to win a prize rather than guaranteed rewards for all respondents.

Follow Up (But Don't Pester)

Send a gentle reminder to non-respondents after a few days, but limit follow-ups to avoid annoying customers.

3. Implement Effective Survey Timing

Timing is everything when it comes to NPS surveys. The key is to find the right balance between gathering frequent feedback and avoiding survey fatigue.

For B2B Relationships:

  • Conduct relationship NPS surveys quarterly
  • Send transactional NPS surveys after significant interactions or milestones

For B2C Companies:

  • Consider monthly or bi-monthly relationship surveys for frequently used products/services
  • Send transactional surveys within 24-48 hours of a purchase or customer service interaction

Industry-Specific Considerations:

Industry Recommended Survey Timing
SaaS Monthly or quarterly relationship surveys; after onboarding and feature releases
Retail Quarterly relationship surveys; 3-7 days after purchase for transactional surveys
Healthcare Bi-annual relationship surveys; within 48 hours of appointment/treatment for transactional surveys

Remember, these are general guidelines. Always test different timings to find what works best for your specific customer base.

4. Analyze All Customer Segments

To get a complete picture of your NPS performance, it's crucial to look beyond just promoters and detractors. Pay attention to these often-overlooked segments:

Passives

Passives (those who score 7-8) represent a significant opportunity. They're satisfied but not enthusiastic enough to actively promote your brand. Focus on understanding what would turn them into promoters.

Non-Respondents

Treat non-respondents as a high-risk segment. While they haven't explicitly given negative feedback, their silence could indicate dissatisfaction or disengagement. Develop strategies to re-engage this group and encourage their participation in future surveys.

New vs. Long-term Customers

Segment your NPS data by customer tenure. Are new customers more enthusiastic? Are long-term customers becoming less satisfied over time? This insight can help you tailor your retention and engagement strategies.

By Product or Service Line

If you offer multiple products or services, analyze NPS scores for each separately. This can help you identify which offerings are driving customer loyalty and which may need improvement.

5. Choose the Right Survey Channels

The channel through which you deliver your NPS survey can significantly impact response rates and the quality of feedback. Consider these options:

Email

Pros:

  • Allows for longer, more detailed surveys
  • Can reach a large audience quickly
  • Easy to track and analyze responses

Cons:

  • May get lost in crowded inboxes
  • Lower response rates compared to some other methods

Best for: B2B companies, detailed feedback collection

In-App/Website

Pros:

  • Captures feedback in the moment
  • High response rates
  • Contextual to the user's experience

Cons:

  • Limited to active users
  • May interrupt the user experience if not implemented well

Best for: SaaS companies, e-commerce sites

SMS

Pros:

  • High open and response rates
  • Immediate and convenient for customers
  • Great for short, quick-response surveys

Cons:

  • Limited space for questions
  • May be seen as intrusive by some customers

Best for: Transactional NPS, service-based businesses

Phone

Pros:

  • Allows for more nuanced feedback
  • Can build stronger customer relationships
  • Useful for high-value clients

Cons:

  • Time-consuming and resource-intensive
  • May be seen as disruptive by some customers

Best for: B2B companies with a smaller, high-value customer base

The key is to use a mix of channels based on your customer preferences and the type of feedback you're seeking. Test different approaches to find the optimal combination for your business.

6. Benchmark Against Competitors

Understanding how your NPS compares to industry standards and direct competitors is crucial for setting realistic goals and identifying areas for improvement.

Industry Benchmarks

Research industry-specific NPS benchmarks to understand where you stand. Keep in mind that these can vary widely between sectors:

Industry Average NPS
Technology 35
E-commerce 45
Financial Services 34
Healthcare 27
Telecommunications 24

Note: These are example figures and may not reflect current data. Always use the most up-to-date benchmarks for your specific industry.

Competitive Analysis

While exact NPS scores for competitors may not be publicly available, you can gain insights through:

  1. Customer forums and review sites
  2. Industry reports and surveys
  3. Social media sentiment analysis
  4. Mystery shopping or using competitor services

Internal Benchmarking

Compare NPS across different:

  • Products or services
  • Customer segments
  • Geographical regions
  • Business units

This internal benchmarking can help identify best practices within your organization and areas needing improvement.

7. Track Progress Over Time

Improving your NPS is a journey, not a destination. Consistent tracking and analysis are key to understanding trends and the impact of your improvement efforts.

Set Up a Dashboard

Create a centralized NPS dashboard that shows:

  • Overall NPS trend over time
  • Breakdown by customer segment
  • Comparison to benchmarks and goals
  • Key drivers of promoters and detractors

Establish Regular Reporting Cadence

Determine how often you'll report on NPS:

  • Daily: For transactional NPS in high-volume businesses
  • Weekly: For tracking short-term impacts of changes
  • Monthly: For most B2B and B2C relationship NPS programs
  • Quarterly: For executive-level reporting and strategic planning

Look for:

  • Seasonal fluctuations
  • Impact of major product launches or changes
  • Correlation with other business metrics (e.g., churn rate, revenue)

Set Realistic Improvement Goals

Based on your baseline and industry benchmarks, set achievable NPS improvement targets. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a 3-5 point increase year-over-year.

8. Close the Feedback Loop

Closing the feedback loop is perhaps the most critical step in improving your NPS. It involves acknowledging customer feedback, taking action on it, and communicating those actions back to customers.

Respond Quickly

Aim to respond to all feedback, especially from detractors, within 48 hours. This quick response shows customers that their opinions are valued and can often turn a negative experience into a positive one.

Personalize Your Response

Avoid generic, templated responses. Reference specific points from the customer's feedback and tailor your reply accordingly.

Take Visible Action

When customers highlight issues:

  1. Investigate the problem thoroughly
  2. Implement a solution or explain why a change can't be made
  3. Follow up with the customer to ensure their satisfaction

Communicate Broader Changes

When you make significant changes based on customer feedback:

  1. Announce these changes to all customers
  2. Explain how customer input influenced the decision
  3. Thank customers for their feedback

Track the Impact

Monitor how closing the loop affects your NPS:

  • Do customers who receive follow-ups become more likely to recommend you?
  • Does overall NPS improve in areas where you've made changes based on feedback?

Remember, the goal isn't just to improve your score, but to genuinely enhance the customer experience. When done right, closing the feedback loop can lead to increased customer loyalty, reduced churn, and organic growth through word-of-mouth recommendations.

9. Conduct Root Cause Analysis

To drive meaningful improvements in your NPS, it's essential to dig deep and understand the root causes of both positive and negative feedback. Root cause analysis helps you move beyond surface-level symptoms to address fundamental issues that impact customer satisfaction.

The "Five Whys" Technique

One effective method for root cause analysis is the "Five Whys" technique:

  1. Start with a specific piece of customer feedback
  2. Ask "Why?" to understand the reason behind it
  3. For each answer, ask "Why?" again
  4. Repeat this process five times or until you've identified the root cause

Example:

  • Customer feedback: "Your product is too difficult to use"
  • Why? "The interface is confusing"
  • Why? "There are too many options on the main screen"
  • Why? "We've added features without reorganizing the layout"
  • Why? "We prioritized new features over user experience"
  • Why? "Our development process doesn't include UX testing"

Root cause: Lack of UX testing in the development process

Categorize and Prioritize Issues

As you conduct root cause analysis:

  1. Group similar issues together
  2. Assess the frequency and impact of each root cause
  3. Prioritize based on potential NPS impact and ease of addressing

Cross-Functional Problem-Solving

Involve teams from across your organization in the root cause analysis process. This can lead to more comprehensive solutions and help build a customer-centric culture throughout the company.

Implement and Monitor Solutions

Once you've identified root causes:

  1. Develop action plans to address each priority issue
  2. Set clear timelines and responsibilities for implementation
  3. Monitor the impact of changes on your NPS and other relevant metrics

Remember, root cause analysis is an ongoing process. Regularly revisit your findings and continue to dig deeper as your understanding of customer needs evolves.

10. Tie NPS to Revenue

While NPS is a powerful metric on its own, its true value emerges when you connect it to financial outcomes. By linking NPS to revenue, you can demonstrate the tangible business impact of customer experience improvements and secure buy-in for further investment in your NPS program.

Calculate Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) by NPS Category

Break down your customer base into promoters, passives, and detractors, then calculate the average CLV for each group. This often reveals that promoters have significantly higher CLV than detractors.

Example:

NPS Category Average CLV % of Customer Base
Promoters $5,000 30%
Passives $3,000 50%
Detractors $1,500 20%

Estimate Revenue Impact of NPS Improvements

Calculate the potential revenue increase from moving customers up the NPS scale:

  1. Determine the revenue difference between categories (e.g., promoter vs. passive)
  2. Estimate how many customers you can realistically move to a higher category
  3. Multiply the number of moved customers by the revenue difference

Example: Moving 5% of passives to promoters

  • Revenue difference: $2,000 ($5,000 - $3,000)
  • Number of customers moved: 250 (5% of 5,000 total customers)
  • Potential revenue impact: $500,000 (250 x $2,000)

Analyze Churn Risk

Use NPS data to identify at-risk revenue:

  1. Calculate churn rates for each NPS category
  2. Multiply the churn rate by the number of customers and their average revenue in each category
  3. Focus retention efforts on high-value, at-risk customers

Track Referral Revenue

Measure the actual revenue generated from customer referrals and correlate it with NPS scores. This helps quantify the value of promoters beyond their direct purchases.

Include NPS in Financial Reporting

Incorporate NPS trends and their estimated revenue impact into regular financial reports. This keeps customer experience top-of-mind for executives and demonstrates its role in driving business growth.

By tying NPS to revenue, you transform it from a customer satisfaction metric into a powerful tool for predicting and driving financial performance. This approach not only justifies investment in customer experience initiatives but also helps prioritize efforts that will have the greatest impact on both NPS and bottom-line results.

11. Secure Organization-Wide Buy-In

Improving your NPS isn't just the responsibility of the customer service team—it requires commitment and action from every department in your organization. Securing buy-in across all levels is crucial for implementing meaningful changes and driving sustainable NPS improvements.

Start at the Top

Executive support is critical for any company-wide initiative:

  1. Present the business case for NPS improvement, highlighting the revenue impact
  2. Connect NPS goals to overall business objectives
  3. Ensure NPS is a regular topic in executive meetings

Educate Employees

Help all employees understand the importance of NPS:

  1. Conduct company-wide training sessions on NPS basics
  2. Share success stories and case studies from other companies
  3. Explain how each department impacts the customer experience

Align Incentives

Make NPS improvement a shared goal:

  1. Include NPS targets in performance reviews across all departments
  2. Consider tying bonuses or other incentives to NPS improvements
  3. Recognize and reward employees who contribute to NPS gains

Foster Cross-Functional Collaboration

Break down silos to address customer issues holistically:

  1. Create cross-functional teams to work on NPS improvement projects
  2. Implement regular "voice of the customer" meetings with representatives from all departments
  3. Encourage job shadowing or rotations to build empathy for customer-facing roles

Communicate Consistently

Keep NPS top-of-mind throughout the organization:

  1. Share NPS updates in company-wide communications
  2. Create a dedicated space (physical or digital) for NPS data and customer feedback
  3. Celebrate NPS wins and improvements, no matter how small

Empower Employees

Give staff the tools and authority to improve customer experience:

  1. Implement systems for sharing and acting on customer feedback quickly
  2. Provide guidelines for when employees can make independent decisions to resolve issues
  3. Encourage and reward innovative ideas for improving customer satisfaction

Remember, cultural change takes time. Be patient and persistent in your efforts to embed NPS improvement into your company's DNA. When everyone in the organization understands their role in shaping the customer experience, you'll see more consistent and sustainable NPS gains.

12. Leverage Technology for NPS Improvement

In today's digital age, leveraging the right technology can significantly enhance your NPS program's effectiveness. From data collection to analysis and action, the right tools can streamline processes, uncover deeper insights, and drive more impactful improvements.

NPS-Specific Software

Invest in dedicated NPS software that offers:

  • Automated survey distribution across multiple channels
  • Real-time reporting and dashboards
  • Text analytics for open-ended feedback
  • Integration with other business systems (CRM, support ticketing, etc.)### Customer Data Platform (CDP)

A CDP can help you:

  • Consolidate customer data from multiple touchpoints
  • Create a unified view of each customer's journey
  • Segment customers more effectively for targeted NPS improvement strategies

AI and Machine Learning

Leverage AI to:

  • Predict which customers are likely to become detractors
  • Identify patterns in feedback that humans might miss
  • Automate response routing and prioritization

Workflow Automation

Use automation tools to:

  • Trigger follow-up actions based on NPS responses
  • Assign tasks to appropriate team members
  • Track the progress of improvement initiatives

Voice of Customer (VoC) Platforms

Complement your NPS program with a VoC platform that:

  • Captures feedback from multiple sources (surveys, social media, reviews, etc.)
  • Provides a holistic view of customer sentiment
  • Helps identify emerging trends and issues

Business Intelligence (BI) Tools

Utilize BI software to:

  • Visualize NPS data in compelling ways
  • Perform advanced analytics to uncover correlations and trends
  • Create custom reports for different stakeholders

Mobile Apps

Develop or utilize mobile apps to:

  • Collect feedback on-the-go
  • Provide employees with real-time NPS data and customer insights
  • Enable quick responses to customer feedback

Integration is Key

Remember, the true power of technology in NPS improvement comes from integration. Ensure your chosen tools can work together seamlessly to provide a comprehensive view of your customer experience and enable swift, data-driven action.

By strategically implementing these technologies, you can supercharge your NPS program, making it more efficient, insightful, and impactful. However, always keep in mind that technology is a means to an end—the ultimate goal is to improve the customer experience, not just to have the latest tools.

Conclusion

Improving your Net Promoter Score is an ongoing journey that requires dedication, strategy, and a true commitment to enhancing the customer experience. By implementing these 12 proven strategies, you'll be well on your way to not just improving your NPS, but fundamentally transforming your relationship with your customers.

Remember, the goal isn't just a higher score—it's about creating a customer-centric culture that drives loyalty, advocacy, and sustainable business growth. As you embark on this journey, keep listening to your customers, stay agile in your approach, and never stop innovating in your quest to deliver exceptional experiences.

With persistence and the right strategies in place, you'll not only see your NPS climb but also reap the rewards of increased customer loyalty, reduced churn, and organic growth through powerful word-of-mouth marketing. Your improved NPS will become a testament to your commitment to customer satisfaction and a key driver of your business success.

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