How to Improve Your Net Promoter Score (NPS)

When it comes to measures of brand loyalty, Net Promoter Score (NPS) is king. Many customer-facing companies obsess over their Net Promoter Score, always searching for that magic formula that will drive it up. And not without good reason: from a revenue-growth standpoint, customer lifetime value (CLTV) is the new black.

Unfortunately, many of these companies struggle to understand how various aspects of their business affect their Net Promoter Score score, and to what degree. It’s like having a precise temperature reading but no clue what’s happening in the atmosphere—and, therefore, no predictive ability. Loyalty is strong (or it isn’t), but there’s no discernable “why” behind it.

If this describes your brand’s experience with NPS, it might help to consider (reconsider, actually) the classic Net Promoter Score definition.

First Things First: What Is NPS?

The NPS definition that comes to mind most often is a number between -100 and 100 that reflects how likely people are to recommend the brand to others. A simple (often single-question) survey is sent to randomly selected customers, and the Net Promoter Score is calculated based on the results.

In fact, NPS comes in three different varieties. Here’s how they compare.

The competitive benchmark NPS score shows how companies stack up against direct and indirect competitors in a variety of respects. This score helps clarify market threats and opportunities, and it helps C-level executives set strategic priorities.

The relationship NPS score is NPS in the classic sense: how likely existing customers are to refer the brand to others. This score drives brands’ efforts to improve the customer experience.

The experience NPS score reveals the strength of customers’ loyalty following specific brand interactions. Because brands know the “why” behind this score, it’s the most actionable of them all.

The NPS Score That’s Entirely in Your Hands

Many companies are so invested in their Net Promoter Score, they use it as a basis for executives’ reviews and bonuses. But competitive benchmark and relationship NPS scores can’t be traced to a particular channel, type of engagement, or brand rep’s performance. There’s no telling what types of CX initiatives are resonating with customers, and to what degree—or what unknown issues might be offsetting any positive gains.

Unlike the other two types of NPS score, experience NPS can be measured immediately after front-line interactions. Many of our Stella Connect feedback requests include an NPS survey question: “How likely are you to recommend [brand] to a friend?”

The customer’s answer to this question will no doubt be influenced by his or her recent experience (Stella Connect responses tend to arrive less than an hour after the service interaction). If you’re used to relying on relationship NPS, you might wonder if this bias makes the experience NPS score somehow less “pure” as a measure of customer loyalty.

From our perspective, what matters here is the real value of the score: a brand’s ability to influence it.

If You Control One Net Promoter Score, You Control Them All

A rising experience NPS score is like a tide that lifts all boats. Over time, as you use the direct link from CX to NPS to enhance your service delivery in more informed, precise ways, your customers’ loyalty will grow. They’ll start spreading the word about their outstanding experiences. And the bigger picture for your brand, as reflected in your relationship and competitive benchmark NPS scores, will begin to change.

Just how much can a brand influence its experience NPS score? What might the results look like? Some of our clients’ gains would amaze you.

NPS score improvements on Williams Sonoma

See how Williams Sonoma improved NPS scores using Stella Connect

Click here to learn how one major retailer drove its NPS score up 100+ points among its least satisfied customers.