What is Net Promoter Score? The complete guide to calculate and use NPS
Net Promoter Score® (NPS) helps companies determine if they offer a positive customer experience. Leverage Net Promoter Score® data to enhance your customer experience and boost your bottom line.
Last updated February 9, 2023
Net Promoter Score® (NPS) can help companies determine if they offer a positive customer experience and if support teams are meeting customers’ expectations. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023, 60 percent of customers purchased something from one brand over another based on the service they expected to receive. So, it’s more important than ever to integrate NPS into your strategy.
This guide covers the Net Promoter Score® definition and origin, how to calculate a Net Promoter Score®, how to interpret the NPS rating, and the steps and best practices for creating your own NPS survey.
- What is NPS?
- How to calculate NPS manually
- Automated Net Promoter Score® calculation
- How to interpret your NPS results
- What can you do with your Net Promoter Score?
- NPS surveys: What can you measure?
- Steps to create an NPS survey (+ best practices)
What is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?
NPS measures customer loyalty, and companies typically use it to evaluate the quality of their customer experience. First developed in 1993 by Fred Reichheld, NPS asks your audience a simple survey question: How likely are you to recommend us to a friend? This is the first step in calculating your NPS score.
Why is NPS important?
NPS provides a clear benchmark for a positive customer experience. It can also help you assess loyalty by determining how likely customers are to recommend your products and/or services.
What is an NPS survey?
An NPS survey collects feedback from customers by asking how likely they are to recommend your business to others. The NPS scale is typically numbered 0 through 10. The NPS survey respondent will select a number within that scale, and their answer places them into one of three categories:
- Detractors (respondents who answer 0–6): unhappy customers who are unlikely to recommend your business
- Passives (respondents who answer 7 or 8): customers who might recommend your business if they continue to have good experiences
- Promoters (respondents who answer 9 or 10): your most loyal customers who will likely recommend your business through word of mouth
To adapt NPS to a single interaction, add a phrase to your core question:
“How likely are you to recommend [Company Name] to a [friend or colleague] based on [your customer support call on February 3, 2023]?”
Email NPS survey example
You can send an NPS survey to customers via email. Check out the example below for some inspiration:
We noticed that you recently purchased [Product Name]—we would love your feedback on how we can improve.
How likely are you to recommend [Business Name] to a friend?
[Insert NPS survey]
Tip: Keep the message brief, and always embed your NPS survey into the email body rather than asking your customers to visit an external page.
Website NPS survey example
NPS surveys can also live on your website as a pop-up or on a survey page. Customers can view the survey and fill it out at their own convenience.
Tip: Place the NPS survey on your main conversion pages, like a Thank You page that customers are directed to post-purchase.
Overview: How to calculate Net Promoter Score
Calculate your Net Promoter Score® once you have all your customer survey responses. You can use different methods to determine your Net Promoter Score® calculation.
Calculating NPS manually
To calculate NPS manually, follow these steps and the NPS formula below:
- Segment your results into detractors (scores 0–6) and promoters (scores 9–10).
- Subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to determine the overall score.
Note: Passives are left out of the scoring because their sentiment isn’t strong enough. However, identifying these folks for targeted follow-up is still a good idea.
Automated NPS calculation
If you have thousands of customers, you can use software to automate the collection and processing of NPS survey responses.
For example, Zendesk built an NPS survey right into its platform. With just a few clicks, you can instantly send the one-question survey, gather feedback, calculate the score, and compile a report.
Zendesk automatically updates the profiles with customer NPS scores, so your support team can personalize each interaction accordingly. An agent will want to use different playbooks with detractors and promoters.
Tip: Whether you collect NPS surveys manually or automatically, stick to a schedule for sending them. If you send them too often, customers might feel like you’re spamming them. You should also set a benchmark response rate to know when to adjust your survey delivery method.
What is a good Net Promoter Score?
Wondering what a good NPS is? There’s no clear answer. NPS benchmarks vary by industry, according to Statista, and the method you choose for assessing your score:
- Absolute NPS method compares your score to a loosely defined standard for a good score across all industries. This could mean that any score below 0 tells you that customers are unlikely to recommend your business.
- Relative NPS method compares your score to scores that similar businesses receive. For example, most companies’ scores are between 31 and 50, depending on the industry.
The key is to figure out how to improve NPS continuously. To determine where you can strengthen your customer experience, include an open-ended question at the end of your NPS survey, such as: “How can we improve your experience?”
What is a bad NPS score?
A bad NPS depends on whether you use the absolute or relative method to interpret NPS meaning:
- If you use the absolute method, any score below 0 is considered bad.
- If you use the relative method, any score below your industry’s baseline is considered bad. For example, if a good score in the retail industry is 30 and above, then anything below 30 is a bad score.
How to interpret your NPS results
An NPS score can provide valuable insight into how well you’re doing and can help predict the decline or growth of your business. It can also be a great way to predict and avoid bigger issues in the future.
Here are some ways you can interpret your NPS results and apply them to your company’s overall strategy.
Review data segments
First, make sure you review all the data segments related to your NPS responses. The score may vary across different segments, such as:
- Age group
- Long-term customers
- High-spending customers
Ideally, your CRM will have the customer’s demographic information available. For example, your NPS may be higher with a particular gender or lower in a specific age range. This can give you insight into how to modify your approach for different types of customers.
Track performance over time
NPS is a metric that happens in real time, so it’s important to continuously monitor it and collect responses. By tracking performance, you can recognize trends, themes, and fluctuations with your customers. With that knowledge, you can look into what factors cause score variations.
Share feedback across relevant teams
Ensure that all relevant teams—such as marketing, product, sales, and engineering—have access to the NPS results and customer feedback. When everybody is on the same page, efforts to improve a score are streamlined and consistent between each department.
To help distill information to the broader team, try these simple approaches:
- Send survey results in your team’s messaging channel, such as Slack.
- Report on NPS findings during team meetings and highlight problem areas.
- Build a case study on your highest-priority customers with NPS insights.
Close the loop with customers
Most importantly, you must close the loop with the customers. This means that you should consider asking follow-up questions as part of your NPS survey strategy, as this will help you better understand the reasoning and context behind customer scores.
What can you do with your Net Promoter Score?
The short and simple answer: Companies use the NPS metric to inform how they keep their customers happy and loyal. But what does that look like in practice? Here are a few ways to act on your NPS results after you interpret the data.
Learn where to improve—and what’s working
The biggest way to use your NPS is to determine areas of improvement and success. That way, you can shift your priorities or strategies to different areas of your business if needed.
For example, you may find that your product team has a much higher NPS than your customer service department. In this case, you would need to shift your strategy to improve the performance of your customer service team.
The NPS metric is also a great way to get customer referrals. For instance, you can follow up with customers who gave your business a high score and ask them to refer you to their friends and family. You can incentivize them to do so by offering a freebie or a discount on their next purchase.
Spot potential churn and proactively prevent it
You can help identify your churn rate using NPS surveys. Customer retention is less costly than acquiring new customers, so it’s essential to prevent churn. NPS scores can help alert your business of potential churn through negative feedback that customers leave via the survey.
Hopefully, your survey will be linked to your CRM software so you can get notified of any negative NPS responses and look to mitigate the problem immediately—before churn occurs.
According to our latest CX Trends Report, 73 percent of customers will switch to a competitor after multiple bad experiences, so it’s important to address bad scores as soon as you can.
What does NPS measure?
A customer support team typically uses Net Promoter Score® surveys to assess the quality of their interactions. Beyond support, companies can also use NPS surveys to gauge how their customer base feels about their products, services, or the business as a whole.
Learn what you can measure with NPS surveys below.
Customer support quality
After a support agent closes a ticket, send the customer an NPS survey to see if they’re satisfied with the help they received. A support team’s NPS survey might consist of something like this:
- Core question: “Based on your recent support experience, how likely are you to recommend [Company Name] to your friends and family?”
- Follow-up open-ended question: “How can we improve the support experience?” or “What did you like or dislike about your support experience?”
Wondering whether customers are enjoying your product? Send an NPS survey a few days after their product is delivered.
Say your product team is having trouble deciding whether they should add features to the company’s core software. Your quarterly NPS survey might ask:
- Core question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [Product Name] to a friend or colleague?”
- Follow-up question: “What features would improve [Product Name]?”
Customer experience quality
Often, a company’s leadership team is curious to know what customers think of their business as a whole. To evaluate overall brand perception, you might send this NPS survey:
- Core question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [Business Name] to a colleague?”
- Follow-up question: “How can we improve your customer experience?”
Once you gather and analyze NPS responses, you can begin making the necessary improvements to your support, products, or customer experience.
Steps to create an NPS survey (+ best practices)
Creating an NPS survey is a simple process. Below are the steps to build an NPS survey as well as some best practices.
1. Determine your survey methods
The first step in creating an NPS survey is to decide how to distribute your survey. As mentioned earlier in this article, your NPS survey can be run on-site or be a standalone survey that you share with customers via email.
Tip: It’s also important to send your NPS survey at the right time. Make sure it fits in smoothly with the customer journey (i.e., at the end of a purchase rather than before).
2. Add Net Promoter Score question
Next, you’ll need to add your Net Promoter Score® question. The standard NPS questions are similar to customer satisfaction surveys and are usually as follows:
- How likely are you to recommend [Company Name] to a friend or colleague?
- On a scale of 0–10, how likely are you to recommend us?
Tip: Ensure your questions are brief to avoid survey fatigue.
3. Ask the customer to state the reason for their score
Add a follow-up question to your NPS survey. This gives you an opportunity to ask the customer to explain their score. For example, you can ask:
- What’s the main reason for your score?
The response will provide you with the additional context your team needs to put the feedback into practice.
Tip: Don’t neglect your promoters—even though they gave you a good score, you can still reach out to see if they’re willing to provide you with a customer referral.
4. Request feedback
You should also ask for additional feedback by including the following open-ended questions:
- How should we improve our [product/service]?
- We’d love to learn which features of [product/service] impressed you the most.
- We’d like to know how to further improve your experience with us.
Asking a customer for additional feedback can uncover areas for improvement that your team may not have thought of before or overlooked.
Tip: Be sure to focus on the detractors, as it’s a prime opportunity to understand what your customers seek from your business but aren’t getting.
5. Ask for follow-up permission
It’s also important to follow up after you send the survey and to receive permission to reach out again. This can be a checkbox that the customer clicks on to allow future follow-up from your business.
Tip: Make sure you promptly follow up after receiving an NPS response. Consider following up within a week to ensure the experience is still fresh in the customer’s mind.
6. Send a “thank you” message
Ensure you thank the customer for submitting the NPS survey response and for providing any additional feedback. Sending a “thank you” message is a great way to show customers you appreciate them and increase customer loyalty.
Here are some “thank you” message examples:
- Thank you for the feedback. We’re happy to hear you’re a fan of our [product/service]. Your feedback helps us to improve and ensures that you receive the best possible experience.
- We appreciate your feedback. Our goal is to deliver top-notch customer service, and we love to hear suggestions on how we can improve.
Tip: To show your customers some extra appreciation, consider adding a gift for those who’ve left feedback. For example, you can give them a discount code on their next purchase or a free trial for a higher-tier product or service.
Use Net Promoter Score to refine your customer experience
Your NPS surveys are only as powerful as your ability to make sense of the data and act on it. With the right analysis, you can leverage NPS responses to remove customer experience roadblocks before they lead to churn.
Use customer service software like Zendesk to easily collect and understand NPS insights. Our solution automatically sends surveys via customers’ preferred channels, gathers responses, and compiles reports—empowering you to identify your next steps and enhance your products, customer support, and overall customer experience.
Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are registered trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.