Creating an Action Plan: Improving NPS and Customer Satisfaction

The Net Promoter Score (NPS®) is a calculation created by Bain & Company and adopted by many businesses and organizations to measure the loyalty of their customers, patients, employees, etc. The NPS score is part of Bain’s Net Promoter system, a management philosophy that prioritizes building passionate loyalty to the organization or brand. The idea is that satisfied customers become advocates. They will recommend (or promote) a company to their friends, families, and coworkers, which is the best kind of marketing a company can hope for.

Net Promoter companies implement surveys with just a few questions in order to track and improve loyalty:

  • On a 0-to-10 scale, how likely is it that you would recommend us (or this product or service) to a friend or colleague? What is the primary reason for your score?
  • Why?
  • What could we do better?

The first Net Promoter question provides a quantitative measure of how satisfied a business’s customers are and how likely they are to recommend the organization to others. Responses to this question fall into three main NPS categories: detractors, passives, and promoters.

A customer selecting a rating from 0–6 on the survey is an NPS “detractor” who is not satisfied and will not recommend. They could even do harm to an organization’s reputation by criticizing it.

“Passives” give NPS scores of 7–8. These NPS scores indicate customers who are neither very happy nor very unhappy. Generally, they will not harm an organization, but they don’t tend to promote it either.

Customers giving an NPS rating of 9–10 are happy customers; they are considered “promoters” and are so satisfied that they are highly likely to recommend a business to others.

Calculating a Net Promoter Score is simple: subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. The higher the NPS score, the stronger the loyalty towards your business.


How to Improve Customer Satisfaction with a Net Promoter Score Action Plan

Step 1: Identify Your Business Objectives and Prioritize which Objectives to Meet via the Survey

Many surveys go awry at the very beginning because the team loses sight of their objectives. It’s easy to add questions, causing a survey to balloon far beyond the original goal. To get the information necessary to satisfy customers and build promoters for a business or brand, keep the focus narrow and ask the fewest questions possible to get the information and insights needed.

Step 2: Develop the Net Promoter Score Survey

It’s harder and harder to get survey responses these days – people are “surveyed-out.” One of the advantages of using the NPS survey is its short, three-question format. It allows respondents to say what they want to say and submit quickly for the best feedback. The Net Promoter qualitative questions provide the necessary context to understand the quantitative question (the 0–10 ranking), so include all three questions unless your team has a very good reason not to.

Step 3: Implement the Survey

In Bain’s Net Promoter system, they recommend a very short cycle of surveying, reviewing, learning, and acting. Rather than surveying people once a year or once a quarter, the system’s simplicity lends itself to constant monitoring. Determine the frequency and volume for the survey: Will it go to every customer in every interaction, to a percentage of customers selected at random, or some other increment? Set a timeline or duration to maintain this so that comparing results over time provides statistically significant data.

Step 4: Analyze the Results 

Best practices for analyzing surveys like the Net Promoter Score include using a software tool to automate the scoring. What’s most important when using the Net Promoter Score process is to look carefully at the results for exactly what customers are identifying as positive and negative contributors to their experiences. (See this article for details on how to analyze the results manually or using an automated tool.)

Step 5: Create the Action Plan

The only way to improve a customer’s experience and their loyalty is to address the weaknesses they report and continue to offer the things they appreciate most. For every cycle, after inviting responses to the survey and analyzing the results, teams need to create an action plan and act on the drivers of dissatisfaction that emerge from this process.

In an example, a chain of gyms implements the Net Promoter System and begins soliciting customer feedback using the 3-question survey process described above. In the first round of responses, their NPS score declines. Verbatim analysis reveals positive themes include trainer, instructor, and class. Negative themes include locker, shower, and the broken machine. The gym management would logically conclude that they have hired the right staff, but they need to perform maintenance on the lockers and machines and improve the cleanliness of the bathrooms. Their action plan could say that they will send a maintenance team to perform the repairs and increase the number of visits made by the cleaning service company or choose a new service that does a better job.

Step 6: Implement the Action Plan

This is simple – take the steps identified as necessary to improve customer experiences. Identify who in the company is responsible to complete the steps and the measures of success (or completion). Some of these steps may take longer to complete than others, so be sure to define an appropriate time frame in which to expect tangible changes.

Step 7: Repeat (Measure Again)

Net Promoter organizations want to constantly invite feedback from their customers or employees so they can track improvement in real-time and identify new issues quickly to improve the customer experience. This means data continually flows from the survey into the analysis process and informs new action plans for your company.


Benefits of Using Automated Analysis of NPS Surveys

Enables Consistent Efficient Review of Verbatim Comments

Survey analysis tools like Ascribe’s CX Inspector use machine learning and natural language processing when assessing data sets. The software removes the element of human error by using a consistent standard of review. Unlike human analysts, no matter what day or time of day the data goes into the system to be analyzed, the results will be the same.

This consistency gives a customer service team confidence that a change in NPS indicates a meaningful shift in experiences rather than a deviation in scoring caused by human variables. It also makes it possible to track common themes, trends, and overall sentiment, sort the data in many different ways, and compare customer experiences from various time frames.

CX Inspector Identifies Issues Driving NPS Scores

Net Promoter organizations who ask all three survey questions need a reliable and efficient mechanism for reviewing the verbatim text responses. These responses contain essential context for the rating each customer gives – details that can help organizations identify specifically what they are doing well and where to improve.

The comments help explain any changes that appear from study to study. If NPS results begin to trend up or down, a system that reviews the comments can help identify key themes and the sentiments (emotions) that drive the scores. These shifts can also signal whether changes implemented previously are improving the experience or missing the mark.

A robust tool like Ascribe’s CX Inspector can filter NPS results to show whether scores, sentiments, and themes vary with groups of people, locations, times, etc. This can help teams see, for example, whether they have improved satisfaction in one group while damaging it with another, if certain locations or services satisfy better than others, and which issues seem to push NPS scores up or down the most.


Measuring Customer Satisfaction for Organizations Not Currently Using NPS 

CX Inspector’s  X-ScoreTM – What It Is 

Some businesses are not currently using the Net Promoter system but have lots of verbatim comments they would like to use to measure and improve the experiences of their customers or employees. Ascribe’s CX Inspector with X-Score™ allows these organizations to use existing survey data (unfiltered verbatim comments) to analyze the verbatim NPS comments and generate a satisfaction score without asking a specific rating question. Using advanced natural language processing (NLP), X-Score combines two key indicators – the frequency of topics mentioned and the sentiment – into one single number. This strategy creates stronger feedback results and can lead to deeper insights.

X-Score – What It Shows Related to Customer Experience

X-Score uses a proprietary measurement method combining sentiment with topic frequency and scaling them to their relative importance. This relativity is crucial to identify what’s really driving a negative or positive experience. X-Score uses a scale of -100 to 100, providing room for interpretation and a strong basis for comparison over time.

Businesses that use X-Score will receive an X-Score Insights Report with a summary of the X-Score results. It visually summarizes the X-Score and the key positive and negative insights driving overall satisfaction. Using this data, teams can confidently prioritize the most important areas to address for their customers. These insights may also point out areas where they need to dig deeper into the data or even reach out to consumer groups to better understand certain issues that rise to the surface.

XScore Insights

Customer Satisfaction – The Right Focus

Measuring and focusing on the experiences and satisfaction levels of customers, employees, or other stakeholders is one significant key to the success of many businesses. Keeping a close eye on customer feedback, acting quickly when issues arise, and monitoring progress demonstrates a real commitment to quality and earns enduring loyalty.