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From measurement to management: How to improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS)

11 min read
What steps do you need to take to improve your Net Promoter Score? Learn how to benchmark your performance, track progress and see better customer experience results.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metric commonly used to understand how your customer experience is performing, measure your customers’ sentiment over time and judge your business against competitors. Its simplicity and popularity mean that for many businesses, NPS is already used as part of their customer experience program.

However, leveraging your program to consistently drive better scores requires more effort than just reaching out for customer feedback.

Combined with other data metrics, NPS can be a powerful tool not only for establishing where you are now but for predicting where you can be in the future. It can help you understand what steps to take to positively impact your business and improve your customer experience.

NPS can aid you in improving the key business metrics your business cares about:

  • Increasing revenue
  • Reducing cost-to-serve
  • Mitigating risk
  • Increasing customer lifetime value
  • Improving retention
  • Reducing customer effort

Read on to discover how to improve your NPS and how to develop a cohesive Net Promoter Score improvement plan.

Establishing a baseline Net Promoter Score

Your baseline NPS will provide you with a solid starting point from which you can judge future progress and make predictions about what actions will make the most impact. This will help you to repeat what works and fix what doesn’t, so you can increase your NPS over time.

Get initial feedback from your customer base

The simplest approach is to ask your customers to answer the NPS survey question and provide a follow-up explanation of their score. Sent to all customers or a segment of customers, this helps to establish your starting point. Ideally, this will measure your customers’ relationship with your entire brand, rather than just their experience after a single transaction.

This can be done via email, but it is vital that customers feel as though it’s a natural part of their experience, with the question asked at the right time. Personalising and optimising this outreach will enable you to get quality data for better customer experiences.

Provide an incentive – even if feedback is negative

To encourage customers to keep offering feedback, you should follow up on any negative experience feedback and address issues directly. Acknowledge their feedback and make sure the customer knows you are taking, or have taken, steps to fix the issues that arose.

Do your research on the competition

Understanding your industry’s NPS benchmark will give you a strong indicator of performance in comparison to your competitors, and a goal to supersede.

This type of insight can help provide context around a score and may help to explain why you’re succeeding or failing against your competitors. Not only that, it can help you to create internal standards for specific departments, services, and interactions within your organisation.

Understand who your detractors and promoters are

Getting a baseline measurement helps you to segment your customers into two groups: detractors and promoters. Those who are happy with your product or service (promoters) and those who have a negative experience (detractors) both need to be managed over time to bring your NPS score to the next level. Turn detractors into promoters, and then make sure they stay that way.

Learn how Qualtrics can help you measure, analyse and improve NPS across your organisation

Tracking NPS feedback and monitoring progress

Track your trends

The easiest way to monitor progress over time and accelerate your program is to track your score trends. By regularly collecting feedback from customers, you can keep a pulse on how your NPS changes and then make sure you’re fixing the experience gaps impacting your score.

Identifying root causes to improve NPS scores

Understanding pain points

In your NPS questionnaire, the explanation of why a score has been awarded can often flag particular pain points. If a certain aspect of the customer experience has not been working as intended – payment processing, for example –  feedback can help identify root causes because multiple customers may flag it.

Of all the ways to improve your NPS score, identifying and taking action on pain points – particularly ones that repeatedly arise and are a driver of a negative NPS – will be the best and most effective option.

Figure out the drivers

Whether positive or negative, figuring out what’s driving customers to provide certain scores will be vital for understanding how to improve it. Though your NPS is helpful in providing a tangible metric, open feedback via text can help to narrow down precisely what is driving your customers’ scores.

Following up with detractors and promoters to get further detail on their provided score can do a lot of the investigative work for you. You can better establish whether a quick fix is needed on a certain part of the customer journey, or whether the journey as a whole needs to be re-designed.

Getting buy-in for your NPS improvement plan

Make it a top-down initiative

As with any organisational change, your NPS improvement plan should be endorsed and promoted by senior management to help drive change across the business. Executive leaders need to champion the actions that will make a difference across all teams for maximum buy-in.

Help your team understand everyone has a role to play

To drive customer satisfaction and improve NPS, everyone in the business has a role to play. Whether it’s providing customer service, managing accounts, or developing products and services, each department needs to understand that they have an effect on whether customer expectations are being met. Senior management needs to help each team to understand the responsibility they have and the influence they wield.

Share regular insights

When implementing an NPS improvement plan, each area of the business should know the state of play and the steps they need to take. To help with this, business leaders need to share regular insights and suggested actions in a consistent, clear way. This will help to communicate precisely what the goals for customer support and retention are, and how they can be achieved.

Embedding throughout the business

Provide training and create a culture of change

To ensure that your staff has everything needed to implement any actions, a culture of change and adaptation needs to be fostered from the top down. Providing training on metrics and educating your people on how you plan to improve your NPS will make it a group effort and therefore far more likely to succeed, as individual areas of the business work together to meet customer expectations.

Close the loop

Each department should have its own methods of measuring change and success. Relational NPS is reflective of the end-to-end journey your customer has with you. If one part of this journey isn’t performing as expected then the experience and relationship can falter as a result. With this in mind, individual elements need to be measured against easily understood metrics, and feedback taken at every step to help teams improve accordingly. Only then will you be able to “close the loop” on negative feedback and ensure all steps are taken to improve your NPS.

Take action at scale with the right tools

The three steps that make up a good NPS improvement plan – listening, understanding, and acting – can be made easier with automation. Using technology to ensure that specific actions are taken in response to data being gathered makes embedding that culture of action across the business much easier.

Creating signals for action in this way is not only more efficient but faster – especially given that negative experiences need to be resolved quickly to meet customer expectations.

Using technological tools to analyse the wealth of data NPS surveys can generate – such as unstructured text feedback – can help businesses sort specific drivers from general commentary.

Not only that but using technology to constantly analyse data means that you can predict issues and fix them before it’s too late.

How to improve your NPS score

Engage with detractors

Improving your relationship with detractors is not just about following up on a negative experience. Businesses need to offer customers with negative feedback a tangible way of resolving the situation that caused it. By providing a resolution to their complaint, customers will feel supported and will potentially change their view of your service. Empower your staff to not only reach out for feedback but to help resolve specific issues and engage with customers more broadly to resolve any common negative experiences.

Leverage promoters

Mobilising promoters to work in your favour is the easiest way to encourage new business and to improve your NPS further. Promoters already understand your strengths, but specific feedback should be sought to find out how your business differentiates from the rest, and how you can continue to satisfy their expectations.

Even if promoters are happy, businesses need to make sure they are not forgotten during your efforts to win over detractors. The Pareto Principle – that 80% of revenue comes from 20% of business – illustrates that retaining customers who are already promoters is more cost-effective than just trying to win back detractors.

Why NPS should form part of a wider customer experience program

An NPS improvement plan should always form a part of your wider customer experience program. Tracking feedback and data from your customers against the NPS metric is helpful to get your business going in the right direction – but there is always room to find other metrics.

It is vital to your businesses’ success that you turn this data into action. This will help you to build a fuller picture of where the gaps are in your customer service and what you need to do to meet the needs of current and future customers.

Top tips for improving your NPS score

  • Make sure your NPS improvement plan is endorsed and promoted from the top down
  • Create a culture of action and culpability so your entire business understands that they are responsible for the customer experience
  • Understand customer pain points and get insights from all areas of the business by tracking individual department metrics
  • Fix those pain points as you find them – create an action plan that addresses the issues highlighted and shows that you’ve listened.
  • Don’t stop there. Continuously listen and adapt to changing needs of customers by embedding NPS into a wider relational program

Get started with our free NPS survey template