Customer Experience

How to Use Net Promoter Score in Brand Advocacy

December 30, 2015

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What if we told you there was one number to help your brand succeed and your business grow?

Wouldn’t you want to know the equation to help you unlock this powerful number?

It’s easier than you think.

We’re talking, of course, about the Net Promoter Score and System (NPS), an index by which businesses can gauge customer satisfaction and loyalty. This metric was created by Fred Reicheld and introduced in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article “The One Number You Need to Grow”.  

The secret to establishing your customer loyalty index, Reicheld explained, lies in the answer to a fairly simple question, a question found on many existing customer satisfaction surveys: “How likely are you to recommend us to your friends and family?

Net Promoter Scores are then established based on the criterion that each one of your clients falls into one of the following categories:

  • Promoters
  • Passives
  • Detractors

Promoters are devoted customers who will support your causes and go to bat for you at any chance.

Passives are happy customers, sure, but not so fervent or vocal about your brand as your promoters. They are often lured away by the promises and temptations of your competitors.

Detractors, for whatever reason, are averse to your brand or find themselves dissatisfied with your services or products.

By assigning each of these categories with a score, or number, you’re able to identify where on the loyalty scale your customers fall, from 0 to 10, and monitor the efficiency of interactions with your clients. You will also be able to benchmark goals for extending outreach and customer recruitment, as well as find clever ways to leverage your promoters in order to achieve brand advocacy.

What’s Your Net Promoter Score?

A Net Promoter Score is a scale that ranges from -100 to 100 and measures how willing your customer base is to recommend your services to their friends or family. Here’s how you calculate it:

Net promoter score NPS

To the question, “How likely are you to recommend us to your friends and family?” responses with a 9 or a 10 are promoters, 7-8 are passives and 0-6 are your detractors. To establish your Net Promoter Score, the percentage of detractors is subtracted from the percentage of promoters.

Let’s say your business has 75% promoters, 15% passive, and 10% detractors. You would simply subtract your percentage of detractors from your percentage of promoters in order to calculate your Net Promoter Score.

75% – 10% = a Net Promoter Score of 65.

Your Net Promoter Score is an amazing metric for calculating customer loyalty. Namely, it narrows the scope by which a survey participant can consider their satisfaction by basing their placement within your set scale on their answer to one question: the probability of referring your business to their loved ones.

This allows you, as the business, to determine how you’re performing through the eyes of your customers. You get a clear visual representation of the customer’s response. If you’re gathering a multitude of 10s, your customers probably feel as though they are crusaders for your company. 0s in the mix? You may need to return to the drawing board because you’ve got some pretty unhappy customers on your hands.

Let’s further explore how each response is categorized:

  • Promoters are your most faithful and frequent clients. They can lead new shoppers to your door and persuade less enthusiastic customers to make more purchases. The more promoters, the better!
  • Passives are happy, fairly frequent customers, but they’re not particularly loyal to you. Their shopping patterns are dictated by convenience and, frequently, price. As a result, when your competition makes an alluring offer, these folks will most likely jump ship and seek out the other guy.
  • Detractors are unhappy customers that will likely make future purchases with your competitors. Because they’ve experienced your brand in a less-than-great light, they’ll speak ill of you to friends and maybe even post negative remarks about you on social media and online review sites.

Remember: You don’t need to ask this one simple question and leave it at that! You’ll want to know why your customers fall into the category that they do. So allow them to provide further explanation by way of an open-ended follow-up question. This information will give you a clearer picture about what your company is doing well and where you have room for improvement.

3 easy steps for finding your Net Promoter Score

Step 1: Set up a survey

You’ll want to start by setting up a survey which asks the all-important question, “How likely are you to refer?” with the corresponding scale from 0-10.

Many online tools help you create the survey, such as Survey Monkey, Gainsight, and ReviewTrackers’ own Feedback and Review Request tool.

Ideally, your survey should also attempt to pinpoint why the respondent gave you the number they did. But save the length for another day! You’ll be surprised how many more responses you can gather by keeping your surveys simple and succinct.  

Read MORE: Online Reviews or Surveys: What’s the Better Way to Collect Customer Feedback?

Step 2: Distribute the survey

After establishing your survey, the next step is finding customers to participate and provide answers. There are several distribution tactics you may want to consider, but the simplest and most straightforward avenue is through email.

You probably already have an email subscriber list in place. Turning to this collection of addresses is a no-brainer when it comes to getting information in the hands of your clients. You can analyze how the email is faring (amount of opens, click-throughs, etc.) and make small changes as you see fit to increase those numbers.

(Check out: 4 Secrets to Collecting Email Addresses)

While you may be tempted to do a mass email campaign for survey responses, studies point toward transaction-responsive email as the best way to get the most accurate information and the highest number of respondents. Additionally, by sending one-off emails triggered by a transaction, a business reduces the likelihood of its message being categorized as spam.

You could also embed your survey onto your website or have it appear as a pop-up. This has the added benefit of maximum exposure and will definitely get attention from your site visitors.

Another idea is to turn to social media to get the word out there about your survey. This can be accomplished with well-timed tweets and sponsored (paid) posts.

However you decide to distribute your survey, make sure your language is clear and that the act of responding is as simple and painless as possible. Promote participation with alluring explanations and promises about how little time it takes. (“It only takes 1 minute to complete our new survey.”) And you could always incentivize if getting feedback is proving especially difficult. You could extend entrance to a giveaway in exchange for participation or a special coupon code to be found at the completion of the survey.

Step 3: Analyze results

As the results start rolling in, use the feedback and analyze your results. What ratings did your business receive? Based on how you fared, there are a few next steps you may want to think about. Most importantly, if you secured mostly Promoters and Passives, how can you leverage these individuals to help grow your reach? How can you turn your respondents ranking you on the high end of the spectrum from Promoters to Brand Advocates?

If your results weren’t what you’d expected, and your proportion of detractors was quite high, how can you convert this information into actionable items that will improve your customer’s perception of your brand? Do your customer service policies need an overhaul? How can you make it right? What changes do you need to make in order to increase customer retention?

Meet the Promoters

Based on a survey designed to define true brand advocates using NPS methodology, the following characteristics of promoters were uncovered:

  • They follow their favorite brands on social media to stay up-to-date about new products, offers, and news.
  • They’re extremely active on Facebook (logging in at least once a day).
  • They let brands know when they’ve done a good job.
  • They’re more likely to follow through with a brand recommendation from an online source than a face-to-face source.
  • They’re more likely to be female than male and are between the ages of 30-44.

Below you’ll find a chart detailing the 2013 Net Promoter Industry Benchmark report for the financial services, technology, online services, retailing, travel, hospitality, insurance, and telecommunications industries. Included are the Top 10 highest ranking Net Promoter Scores in these industries.

nps scores

Note that, among these ten brands with high NPS, only one offers a value/price-based strategy (Southwest). All other brands focus on quality and consistency in product and the ways in which they serve the customer. If you are getting ready to implement a constant improvement program, it’s wise to study the way these corporations interact with their most valuable customers.

4 ways NPS can grow your business

Learn how customers spend

When a customer ranks your brand between a 9-10 on your NPS survey, you can rest assured that they are willing to spend money with you again. It is likely that they will be knocking down your door whenever you reveal a new item or unveil a killer service.

Consider the debut of a hot ticket tech item. Long before one of these items hits the shelves, promoters of its corresponding brand will start to talk about specs and speculate on the features and benefits of the gadget. In short: they’re going to generate big buzz.

When the item finally goes on sale, the sheer excitement created by promoters has already done the legwork in making the sell. Promoters are already committed to laying down the big bucks or queuing up for hours to be the first to take the product home.

Your promoters are not motivated by price. By identifying these individuals, you get a sense of who trusts your brand regardless of cost. You’ll gain a clear understanding of who is willing to spend readily and frequently. Your promoters have a connection with your brand.

Surveying for NPS will also help you assess how your customers spend, as well as identify which segments need improvement in order to initiate more spending with passives and detractors.

Learn how to keep customers

Anyone ranking your brand below an 8 on an NPS survey is susceptible to walking away from your business and into the arms of your competition.

Analyzing your survey data allows you to identify trends in real-time and make adjustments to help correct issues before they become sweeping problems. Simultaneously, you can work towards gaining greater customer retention by converting detractors and passives into long-term promoters.

Not only is this important for the sustainability of your business; it’s also critical to improving customer acquisition and retention. Promoters will stick around for years to come, and can be ignited as powerful recruiters.

Recruit brand ambassadors

In today’s digital age, personal recommendations and online reviews are more influential than ever. You definitely want your happy customers to turn to social media and online review sites to sing your praises. On the other end of the spectrum, you definitely don’t want your unhappy customers to post negative comments and bad reviews.

Unfortunately, detractors can stunt your development in a big way. Delving into your Net Promoter Score can paint a clearer picture of why these customers have negative associations with your brand. This is a powerful first step in changing their minds.

On the flip side, your promoters are a valuable asset and can be recruited to act as brand ambassadors. Use this to your advantage and support promoters’ efforts (and willingness) to positively influence prospects. Empower them to talk about your brand in the real world, on social media, and online review sites.

Know where you stand

Net Promoter Score can also help grow your business by letting you know where your business stands. A helpful by-product of solving the NPS equation is the ability to measure your score against other competitors in your specific industry.

This allows you to draw comparisons between yourself and your competition so that you can set goals and work towards growth. Comparisons like this are invaluable when determining your market position as seen through the eyes of average consumers. You might have an idea of where you stand, you can evaluate sales and numbers, but your NPS score allows you to see yourself as your customers see you. You will gain a clearer picture of how they believe you measure up.

Do loyalty and reward programs increase NPS?

This is a common question and one that is not easy to answer. A strong loyalty program can serve as a transitional tool when a business has concerns regarding quality. At the end of the day, rewards aren’t the thing that encourages customers to keep coming back. Customers come back when a business consistently meets or exceeds brand promises.

Where does “Brand Advocacy” fit into the NPS equation?

That’s simple: Net Promoter Score helps you leverage your promoters by turning them into stellar brand advocates.

We already know promoters are more likely to refer your business to their family and friends but they’re also more likely to:

  • Take you up on new offers
  • Upgrade to higher end items or services
  • Establish themselves as consistent shoppers for years to come

In terms of brand advocacy, your NPS score is the perfect gauge, letting you know when customers are feeling especially favorable towards you, and giving you clear indicators of which individuals will advocate strongly on behalf of your brand.

How to Use Net Promoter Score for brand advocacy

Perhaps you believe locating advocates for your brand is an insurmountable hurdle, but it doesn’t have to be.

One of the critiques of setting up NPS surveys is that once you have a score in hand, it’s just that: in hand. There’s no built-in actionable next step. Some lament the rat race that ensues from simply seeking a higher score. What these criticisms of NPS fail to consider is the possibility of using it for brand advocacy.

Turning your promoters into advocates is an easy step to take once you’ve secured your Net Promoter Score. You’ve already identified your promoters with the help of the survey. You know these folks are pleased with and excited about what your brand brings to the table.

Are Your Products or Services Shareable?

If you are hoping to unleash the power of your promoters and turn them into referral machines, you need to make sure that they have access to products and services that are shareable.

Take a moment to assess if your brand is photogenic, if your packaging is appealing, and if your concepts trigger the desire to brag. Customers are far more likely to talk about your brand if what you have to offer is not only functional but it is also aesthetically pleasing.

Think, for example, about the way consumers are inclined to share food photography displaying their latest meal experience. If your plating is photogenic, you increase the likelihood of a share, while also spiking interest and appealing to the palate of those that see the image.

7 steps to empower your brand advocates

Identify your advocates. As we discussed, you can do this by setting up a customer survey based on the Net Promoter Score and System. All your customers who answer this question with a rating of 9 or 10 are promoters primed to become brand advocates.

Figure out what makes them tick. In addition to asking your survey participants how likely they are to recommend your brand to others, you may ask a few demographic-related questions. You can also ask them a few questions to help pinpoint strategies for deploying the best brand advocates. Consider asking which social media platform they most regularly engage with or how many Twitter or Instagram followers they have. Which of your promoters are online influencers and who is most likely to share?

Look for like-minded prospective customers. Now that you know what your brand advocates look like, you can search for similar individuals who “fit the bill” but haven’t interacted with your brand yet.

Let these prospective customers try you out. Offer these potential promoters a chance to check out some of your products or let them try a service on the house. How can they support your brand if they haven’t even engaged with you? Give them that chance and see what happens!

Put your advocates to work. While this may be the most difficult part of your overall brand advocacy game plan, it also comes with the greatest rewards. This is where you provide your brand advocates with some sort of system which will allow them to seamlessly and easily talk about their passion for your business. Create and maintain an active and engaging social media presence for them to get involved with. Make sure any new information or update gets sent straight to their hands. With a little sweat equity up front, you can sit back, relax, and watch brand advocacy commence!

Set goals and benchmark results. In order to make the most of your brand advocacy strategy, establish goals upfront and benchmark your incoming results. This doesn’t need to be a complicated set of results. Maybe you want to track how many customers opt into your email newsletters. Or perhaps you want to see an increase in your brand mentions by monitoring Google Alerts. Whatever the case may be, set off on your brand advocacy journey with a destination in sight. Once you reach your destination, determine your next set of goals.

Use the language of your advocates. As you’re traveling towards your end goal, take careful note of the language your advocates are using to discuss your brand and products and services. In order to shape your brand pitch and content strategy online and offline, adapt your copy to align with the type of language they use. Their communication patterns will be ever-changing, and your advocates themselves will certainly change over time as well, so continue to keep up with the trends and adapt as needed.

Using NPS to reinforce positive customer experiences

Usually, you implement surveys to bring to light certain items you may not have been aware of. In the case of NPS, it’s how likely your various customers are to refer you to their family and friends.

However, it is also possible to use Net Promoter Score surveys to reinforce positive customer experiences. The key is timing.

Consider asking your customers for survey participation once they’ve arrived at a major benchmark moment in their relationship with your brand. Think: making a large online purchase, opting in for membership, or initiating a major service upgrade.

In this way, customers’ feelings about your brand – the same feelings that caused them to make this new brand decision – will be reinforced, and they’ll be in the perfect state of mind to identify themselves as a promoter.

Now you have a satisfied, spending customer. You also have a brand advocate. They have acknowledged their willingness to promote your brand to their loved ones. But how do you make sure they actually do so?

Your promoters are probably extremely busy. They may say they’re inclined to do the legwork promoting and recommending your brand. But they may not always remember. So assist them with the next step. Make it easy. They’ve already made it clear how much they would love to help. At the same time, don’t be reluctant to provide them with a little guidance.

Actionable items to ask for when a customer rates you at 9 or 10:

  • Yelp review
  • Sign up for email subscription
  • Facebook “like”
  • Tweet their rating, comment,  or feedback

Remember: you can create customer loyalty programs that respond to the specific needs voiced by your survey respondents. This is a more time-intensive way of reinforcing your customer’s existing beliefs but the benefits will keep rolling in for years to come.

3 Ideas for Empowering Brand Advocates

Leverage scores with next steps

Consider the following: after receiving amazing customer service on the phone with a new-to-you company, your inbox pings with a new message. You open the email and are greeted with a question from that very same company: “How likely are you to refer our company to others?”

Fresh off a phone call with one of their employees, who not only solved your issue but did so in a friendly way, you click your mouse on that 10 in lightning speed. But then: nothing else happens.

It’s as if your stellar rating was whisked off into the ether never to be heard from again.

Sounds like a wasted opportunity doesn’t it? On top of rating the brand a 10, you probably would have also signed up to receive email notices of new offers. You could have been encouraged to tweet about your positive interaction for all your followers to see. Maybe you would have even shot an email to your co-worker who was, just the other day, looking for a service similar to what this company offers.

The lesson here is obvious — Don’t waste these key introductory moments with your promoters. It is in these moments which their readiness to refer can become an actual referral.

Don’t just ask if customers would refer; ask them to do so

According to writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie, 91 percent of consumers pronounce a willingness to make referrals but only 11 percent of business associates will actually ask them to do so.

This runs completely counter to the cultural climate we’re living in. In our social media-driven world, people are always sharing and interacting with the brands they feel most connected with. Many are fast to explain ways in which new items are improving or enhancing their lives.

If these people are already in your corner, don’t just confirm if they would refer; ask them to do so! Offer next steps, ask them to join a referral program, or enlist them as a brand ambassador. Be explicit and make the ask.

Make referrals easy

Finally, the act of referring your brand to others should be as easy as possible for your brand advocates. In doing so, your considerations should be two-fold: 1.) Your brand advocates should find referrals easy. 2.) Your brand’s management practices for keeping track of brand advocates referrals should be easy, too.

Unlock the Power of Friends & Family

Any marketer will tell you that there is a significant risk in brand dilution when a business incorporates strategies based on discounts, coupons, and promos.

However, there is a time and place to introduce a discount in a way that protects the brand and its value. Limited promotions with unique coupon codes made available to your best customers (promoters) can result in significant gains as well as the ability to connect with high-quality leads that walk into a business relationship with the added advantage of trust.

If this is an avenue that you decide to explore, measure the performance of your customer transactions against the overall NPS score of your organization. Chances are, those customers will score higher than the overall average.  

Once you’ve garnered a high score, enlisted the survey respondent into action, and established a committed brand advocate, do everything possible to make this customer’s referral process as easy as possible. Streamline the process. Allow their invitations to others to occur through whatever means they find most comfortable and enjoyable.

Would they like to send an email, post a review on Yelp, invite friends to “like” your page on Facebook, or recommend you on LinkedIn? Set systems in place that allow you to follow their progress.

By making this process as simple as possible, you’re guaranteeing consistent action but also maintaining your advocate’s feelings about your brand. If the referral process becomes a burden to your promoters, you run the risk of turning these useful customers into passives or even detractors. Tread carefully and make sure you are able to cultivate a lasting relationship with your most positive promoters.

Key Insights: NPS and brand advocacy

Hopefully, by now, you’re starting to realize the importance of surveying for Net Promoter Score. When you’re given the key to unlocking outside perceptions about your brand, you have the power to recognize where you stand: among your customers and among your competition. You’re able to see what you’re doing right and where you can improve. This one tiny number can impact so much: your growth, the goals you set, and how you reach them.

Because of the simplicity of this approach, the NPS is not a tool exclusive to large brands. Even the smallest business should be able to capture, record and analyze their Net Promoter Score.

Recording your NPS from the moment you open your doors will give your business a significant competitive advantage and will allow you to quickly access the preferences and dislikes of your most valuable customers.

Why wouldn’t you seek the upper hand by utilizing this amazing metric? It could be the starting point you need to set off on the race towards successful brand advocacy.

Do you know your score?

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