By Rich Alessi, senior vice president of customer success at ModMed, finalist at the 2022 SaaS Awards for Best SaaS Product for Healthcare

Going beyond the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and other customer survey findings can reveal essential business insights that might otherwise be overlooked. 

Many technology firms use NPS surveys to keep an eye on what their clients and end users think about their products and services. This kind of feedback can be essential, but in some cases, it’s incomplete and leaves firms looking for improvements with unanswered questions.

What is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

NPS measures customer loyalty for a particular company. People answering the single-question survey rate their answer on a scale of 1 to 10. For example, the survey might ask how likely a person is to refer a friend to the XYZ company. Once results are tallied, the company receives an overall score from -100 to 100, and the higher the number the better.

NPS provides additional insight – it quantifies and classifies customers into one of three groups based on their loyalty:

  • “Detractors,” or unhappy customers;
  • “Passives,” or satisfied but unenthusiastic customers;
  • “Promoters,” people who plan to continue doing business with the company and also refer it to others.

Knowing the proportions of unhappy, satisfied and enthusiastic customers can help companies address any customer experience shortfalls and reinforce what they do well.

Going the extra mile with NPS

Everything fine until here, as people who answer the NPS are also asked an “open text” question about why they chose their score. They can write whatever they like in the box provided, and sometimes their answers fall short or are unclear.

Some firms may stop there and say, “Oh well, we have the overall numbers, that’s probably good enough.”

But usually it’s worth the time and effort, if you have the staffing or resources, to take a deeper dive. Think of it as “closing the loop” to find out precisely why a person wrote what he or she did about his or her customer experience with your company.

Companies give different names to this kind of initiative. At ModMed, we call this the “Voice of the Customer” strategy where more about what our clients think of our products and services is learnt.

What to do when provided with a low NPS score?

One example is a customer who provides a low NPS score but does not explain why. That leaves an open question — why did he or she rank your company a 3 out of 10 for customer experience?

In other scenarios, someone might consider his or her experience a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. Some will not hesitate to explain why they are not fully satisfied; others might explain their thinking in a way that remains unclear.

Email or a telephone call can often clarify the reason(s) behind the score and provide invaluable insight on how improvements can be made.

Companies should in this instances reach out to these individuals for more information, along with a pledge to do better from any actionable insight they provide.

The NPS results can also be used to thank the “promoters” — people who rank their experiences as a 9 or 10.

Regardless of how you actively seek more feedback or engagement, it’s important to do so quickly, typically within three business days of getting the NPS results. You want to contact customers while their experiences and ratings are still fresh in their minds.

Another potential advantage for companies is the impression that they care enough about customer experience to go out of their way to learn more and try to make things right when possible.

NPS: a large scale endeavor or an investment?

The NPS also asks people about demographics, including age, gender, income and more. This generates a lot of data, which companies can use to gain further insight into different segments of customers they might like to target.

Of course, the more NPS surveys sent out, the more data a company receives.

Beyond collecting all this data, it’s important to use it. Companies that analyze the data at a particular point and over time can identify important trends or themes and identify areas that could be addressed going forward. We’ve changed our approach to training customers on our software systems based on customer feedback, for example.

Furthermore, it is not guaranteed, but putting this extra effort into knowing precisely how customers feel about your products or services can lead to better overall NPS scores for your company in the future. It can help to think of the extra effort as an investment.

Boosting client satisfaction through NPS

Acting on NPS scores and feedback can lead to the creation of projects and initiatives to improve your customer experience. That’s the ultimate goal of analyzing all this data. It takes a commitment from throughout an organization to follow through on the insights gained.

Another argument for knowing precisely how and why your customers are satisfied or dissatisfied is that it can remove some of the anxiety over unsolicited online reviews about your company. Customer reviews are unpredictable, and often people are motivated to post their perspective more by a negative experience than a positive one.

There is no way to measure directly how more engagement over NPS feedback will garner more positive online reviews, but I believe that kind of outcome makes sense.

Customer experience: an ongoing commitment

Some tech companies primarily interact with customers once, at the time of purchase or signing of a service contract. For others, however, customer experience is a more ongoing factor.

With subscription software, for example, a company must re-earn the customer’s business on a continual basis, whether that’s every year, two years or three years.

Software renewals present a great opportunity to solicit feedback on experiences from your customers.

It’s important to have a long view with customer experience. Like any valuable relationship, it can take time, effort and commitment to optimize how you interact with your customers. And it’s not a one-and-done scenario — it’s an ongoing task that yields valuable insight commensurate with the amount of extra work you’re willing to put into it.