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.

Types of customer experience analysis products.

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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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.

Measuring customer satisfaction for organizations not currently using NPS.

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 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.

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.