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12 NPS survey best practices to boost response rate and get actionable data

Alia Paavola
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Net promoter score surveys, or NPS surveys, are used by companies across the globe to measure customer loyalty. The surveys allow companies to gather feedback from customers to better predict whether they will return or churn.

An NPS survey typically asks customers just one question: How likely are you to recommend X company or X product to a friend or colleague on a scale of 0 to 10. From there, companies can calculate their net promoter score, which ranges from -100 to 100.

Research suggests NPS is an indicator of future business growth due to its correlation to customer loyalty. Bain and Company found that differences in NPS explain 10 percent to 70 percent of the variation in revenue between competitors. This makes these surveys important for businesses across all industries.

The benefits of NPS surveys

There are several benefits to NPS surveys. Here are a few of them.

  • Measures the likelihood that a customer will buy from you again. NPS helps businesses understand if a customer will make a repeat purchase. This is helpful when it comes to forecasting business growth and cash flow. It also helps assess the health of your brand.
  • Measures the big picture. NPS surveys help measure customers’ overall view of your business. The customers take into account all interactions versus just one recent one. This compares to CSAT surveys that only assess satisfaction with one particular instance with a brand.
  • Provides recommendations to improve your business. NPS can help businesses better understand what their customers like and dislike about their products and brand. By asking follow-up questions to customers, you can get a slew of recommendations to improve your business.
  • Cut customer churn. In using these surveys, you can find customers who didn’t score your brand high and try to intervene. For example, when reaching out to customers who had a negative experience, companies could work to remedy the situation. This could include offering a refund or a discount on a future purchase.
  • Find your brand advocates. NPS surveys help businesses identify brand advocates or most loyal customers. It’s nice to get a sense of who these customers are and to ask them to leave reviews.  
  • NPS surveys are simple and easy to implement. NPS surveys are intuitive and easy to implement. Businesses can send them to customers via email, text, or ask over the phone. Since they ask just one or two questions, they typically get a good response rate as well.
  • Benchmark against competitors. NPS is a pretty universal way to measure customer loyalty. As a result, it’s easy to compare your score against competitors in your industry.
  • Easy to track over time. NPS is a great metric to track overtime to understand customer loyalty. Since it is one number, it is easy to see how it increases or decreases each quarter and each year.

NPS surveys are simple by design. But there are several best practices to keep in mind. Read on to learn best practices to gather responses to them, get an accurate score, and take the right actions to improve your NPS.

12 NPS survey best practices

1. Keep timing and frequency in mind 

When determining the timing and frequency of sending NPS surveys keep relevance in mind. It is best to ensure customers had a recent interaction with your company so it is top of mind. This ensures customers don’t feel as if they are receiving the survey out of the blue.

Additionally, timing and frequency are dependent on the type of NPS survey. There are two common NPS survey types: The relational NPS survey and the transactional NPS survey. The relational one aims to measure the overall satisfaction with a company’s brand, product, or service. The transactional one measures feedback after an event like a support interaction or product purchase.

For a transactional survey, you want to send the survey to customers before too much time has elapsed, but give them enough time to test a product as well. For example, after a customer visits a hair salon, the best timing for a transactional NPS survey would be within a few hours to one day of the appointment. But, after the purchase of a product, such as Nike running shoes, it would be best to ensure a customer had time to try out the shoes before sending the survey.  

For a relational NPS survey, the frequency and timing are a bit more lenient since it is measuring the overall relationship and loyalty of a brand. However, one best practice is to tie the relational NPS survey to an annual statement, bill, or service.

In addition, it is important to keep the time of day the survey is sent in mind. One good approach is understanding the times when your customers are the most active. For both B2B and B2C companies, a good practice is to send the survey on weekdays during business hours. This is the most socially acceptable time and customers are most active at this time.

2. Use the right communication channels to send the survey 

To increase the likelihood of getting a response from customers, send the survey in the right communication channel. Surveys can be delivered in several ways, including email, text, phone, and in-app.

There are pros and cons to using each communication channel. To get an optimal response rate, it is best to understand the communication channel customers prefer. Plus, make sure you understand the pros and cons of each communication channel.

One communication method we recommend is business texting, which has a high response rate. The response rate for SMS is about 45 percent, which is much higher than the average response rate for email or phone.

Here’s an example of an NPS survey you could send via text:

Text message example of NPS survey
An NPS survey you could send customers via text.

To learn more about the pros and cons of other communication channels, read our blog article that describes them in greater detail.

3. Survey a representative sample

To get an accurate NPS, it is important to have a statistically significant and demographically relevant sample.  

Not every customer will respond to your NPS survey. That means you should send it to a larger group of customers may be necessary to ensure the sample is representative.

However, it is important that you don’t send the surveys to too many people at once so you can follow up with customers that provided feedback. For example, for customers that give a low score out of 10, you will want to follow up with them to see if you can rectify the negative experience.

The key is striking a balance to ensure a statistically relevant sample and that you can follow up. The best way to ensure that balance is to send the survey in batches.

4. Personalize the NPS survey invite

When reaching out to a customer to take an NPS survey, make sure your message is personalized. Global management consulting company McKinsey & Co. found that 71 percent of customers expect businesses to deliver personalized interactions. Further, the study found that 76 percent of customers are frustrated when that experience is not customized. This data reveals that every interaction, including NPS survey invites, should be personalized.

Ideally, before sending an NPS survey you will know a bit about the customer. For example, you should at least know their first name and the product or service purchased. Including even a few details can go a long way in boosting the response rate for a survey.  

5. Request more feedback with an open-ended question 

To gain better actionable insights from your NPS survey, ask customers why they selected a particular numerical score. This allows respondents, in their own words, to provide context and other valuable feedback to the company. This question also gives companies a great opportunity to further follow up with a customer about a poor or negative experience.

Here’s an example of what the open-ended question could look like using a text message.

Text message example of open ended question.
An example of how to request more feedback from customers who take an NPS survey.

6. Follow up with detractors

It is a best practice for companies to follow up with detractors, also known as those who score your brand between a 0 and 6. Following up is a great way to close the feedback loop and prove to customers that you care. It also shows that you will change if your brand messed up.

Closing this loop really can help improve your relationship with your complaining customers.

For example, when reaching out to customers that had a negative experience, companies could try to remedy the situation. The company could offer a refund or a discount on future purchases. Following up with these customers to see if you can keep them is vital. That's because even a 5 percent increase in customer retention can boost profitability by up to 95 percent.

Here’s a text template for how you could follow up with detractors.

Hi {{}}. Thank you for sharing your feedback with us. We want to make it up to you! Here’s a 35% off coupon that you can use on your next purchase. Show this message at the checkout.

Here’s an email template for how you could follow up with detractors.

Subject line: Can we make it up to you?

Hi {{}}

Thank you for sharing why you gave {{}} a score of {{number}}. We hope to make it up to you. We want to offer a full refund on {{}} and send you a new one in the mail. Please let us know if the address you send the initial product to is still the best place to send a new one.

Thank you again for your feedback!



7. Follow up with promoters and passives, too

Businesses should also follow up with passives, which gave a score of 7 or 8. This will help them close the loop and see if there’s anything that the business could do to get them to a 9 or 10.

Businesses should also leverage their promoters. Promoters are defined as the customers most likely to recommend their business, product, or service.

When a customer scores your company a 9 or a 10, it means they were satisfied with the product or service. Plus, they are the most likely to recommend your business to others. But, just because they gave you a high score does not mean they will automatically start spreading the word about your company.

As a result, it is a best practice to reach out to those who scored you highly. You can ask if they’d be willing to write a review, provide a testimonial, enter a loyalty program, or participate in a case study. Many businesses, especially in the service industry, live and die by the review.

Here’s a text template for how you could ask a customer who scored you highly to leave a review.

Hi {{}}! We are thrilled you are satisfied with our company! We’d love if you could share your thoughts about why you love our company so much! It would help us a lot in these difficult times. Would you mind leaving a review? Here’s a link to our review page: {{link}}.

Here’s an email template for how you could ask a customer who scored you highly to provide a testimonial:

Subject line: What do you love most about {{our company}}

Hi {{}}!

We are thrilled to hear that you’re so satisfied with {{}} We’d love to keep it this way! Would you mind letting us know what you like the most about about our brand?

We’d love to include your feedback in a testimonial on our website!

I look forward to seeing your responses. Thank you in advance for taking the time.



8. Give customers a gentle reminder to participate

Another way to increase responses to an NPS survey is to send survey invite reminders. These reminders give companies another chance to capture survey recipients’ attention.

If you delivered the survey via email, SurveyMonkey recommends sending a reminder 48 to 72 hours after the initial survey invite. This may help bolster responses.

But, SurveyMonkey notes that respondents are five times more likely to respond to your initial invite than to the first reminder. This means it is best to optimize and personalize that initial invite.

9. Create an internal NPS benchmark and measure NPS over time

Before sending an NPS survey, it is important to establish an internal benchmark. This will help your company understand where it stands against similar businesses in the industry. This can help you create realistic goals to continually improve NPS.

A good way to set a realistic benchmark is to look at the average NPS for your industry. NICE Satmetrix releases an annual report of the average NPS across various industries. In its report for 2021, which collected over 65,000 responses, it found the average NPS for hotels is +48, while health insurance was +27.

In addition to creating an internal NPS benchmark, it is important to measure your NPS over time. This will help you get a sense of how customers’ loyalty changes as time goes on.

10. Share NPS results with your team

Once you calculate your NPS, share that number with your team. When you do so, make sure that you explain the importance of NPS to your business. You should also share how your score compares to competitors in your industry and what you learned from the survey.

The customer success and support teams should then work to understand and address customer problems.

This will help your business continually improve over time. Plus, it helps your employees better understand this loyalty metric and keep it in mind when they interact with customers.

11. Pay attention to survey design

How your business designs the survey is important. This means making it visually appealing and easy to take. On the visual side, pay attention to things like color, font type, and font size.

You’ll also want to pay attention to how easy it is for customers to take the survey. Don’t make customers have to jump through hoops or click many links to take the survey. One way to keep it simple is by using a texting survey.

Another good practice to ensure the survey design is up to par is to test it. Send the survey to yourself and a small group of employees to test it out. That way you can ensure the survey is visually appealing and easy to take. Plus, then you can ensure that you have a way to track the survey responses and how you plan to respond to each one.

12. Incentivize customers to participate

One way to encourage more customers to take the NPS survey is to offer an incentive.

One study found that the likelihood of a customer returning a completed survey increased by 30 percent when an incentive is involved.

When selecting an incentive, think about what your audience would find motivating. Is it a dollar-off coupon, a free product, or an entry into a raffle?

The benefit of NPS surveys is that they are short and don’t require a ton of effort so a costly incentive is not needed.

A few specific examples of non-costly incentives are:

  • Offering a free tote bag
  • $5 off their next $50 purchase
  • Entry into a drawing to win a new massage gun

How to calculate NPS

While NPS surveys ask customers to grade your company on a scale of 0 to 10, there is more work that goes into calculating the score. 

A company’s NPS can range from a low of -100, where every customer is a detractor, to a high of 100, where every customer is a promoter. Although the average NPS varies by industry, a SurveyMonkey study of 150,000 organizations found the average NPS for all industries is +32.

Here are the steps to calculate NPS:

1. The first step to calculating NPS is segmenting the responses collected from the survey into three groups. The groups are promoters, passives, and detractors.

  • Promoters (who gave a score of 9-10) are the customers who are satisfied and most likely to recommend your business to others.
  • Passives (who gave a score of 7-8) are customers who are generally satisfied but are vulnerable to competitive offers or services.
  • Detractors (who gave a score of 0-6) are customers who are unsatisfied and unlikely to recommend your brand. They could damage your reputation through negative comments.

2. The next step is to find the percentage of promoters. You do this by dividing the number of promoter scores by total survey respondents and multiplying that number by 100.

3. The third step is to find the percentage of detractors. You do this by dividing the number of detractor scores by the total survey respondents and multiplying by 100.

4. Lastly, subtract the detractor percentage from the promoter percentage.  

In short, NPS = % of Promoters  —  % of Detractors.

Let’s look at one example for calculating NPS. Say you sent an NPS survey to 150 customers and they each responded with a score from 0 to 10. After segmenting the responses, you found that you had 80 promoters, 30 detractors, and 40 passives.

To find promoter percent use the following formula: (75/150) x 100 = 50 percent. To find the detractor percent, take (30/150) x 100 = 20 percent. From there, you would take the promoter percent (50) and subtract the detractor percent (20) to get an NPS of +30.

The bottom line

NPS surveys are a great way to gauge customer loyalty and find areas to improve your business. Keep these best practices in mind to get a high response rate and the most accurate representation of how customers feel about your brand.

To learn more about NPS scores and other customer satisfaction surveys, check out our other articles:

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