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  • Writer's pictureTerri Wilcox

What Do They Really Think?

Do you know how your customers really view your company? Are you sure? If asked, would you be able to define “the customer experience” based on something measurable?

Companies often use time, effort and valuable resources to build out customer care programs based on what they assume is important to the customer without ever asking them. Beware of assumptions! The last thing you would want to do is focus your efforts or put all your energy into something meaningless because someone on your team thought it was important.

So, how should a business go about collecting and measuring feedback without adding one more thing to your customer's plate? The key is to ask the right questions in a simplified, efficient way. A great option is the Net Promoter Score, a measurement tool that can be used to evaluate the loyalty of a company’s customers by asking one question:

How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) was developed by Fred Reichheld, a pioneer in modern-day customer satisfaction. He was curious as to why some of the best companies were satisfied with their customer survey scores yet weren’t growing much. He realized the typical questions we tend to ask have no predictive value, meaning when you ask a question, it becomes a leading indicator, suggesting that the customer is going to do something.

Are Your Questions Leading You to Improve Value?

Questions such as “how satisfied are you with our service overall”, or “did we answer your call within one ring” don't predict a customer's exit or likeliness to buy again. Once Reichheld stumbled on the right question, he discovered that companies scoring well (9 or 10 on a 0-10-point scale) on this one question grew at a much faster rate as a higher rating is a good indication that a customer is likely to either refer or repurchase.

As the results vary, so do the types of customers. Based on where their rating falls, customers will fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. Promoters (score 9-10): Your most loyal customers who will continue to keep buying and referring others

  2. Passives (score 7-8): Your satisfied yet unenthusiastic customer who can be on the fence when it comes to the competition. Don't overlook the Passives! Satisfied can easily turn to dissatisfied if they start to feel ignored.

  3. Detractors (0-6): Your unhappy customers who can eventually do damage by negative word of mouth

To determine your Net Score, simply subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.

What Does That Number Mean?

It can be hard to compare your Net Promoter Score to an overall average as there are so many factors to take into consideration. However, because so many companies are using this customer experience measurable, companies are now able to benchmark and compare within their industry.

Tip: make a goal to "best" your own Net Promoter Score year over year!

Do Something!

This one simple metric, in our opinion, is THE most valuable accountability metric for the company. Simply recording the Net Promoter Score means nothing if the business isn't planning to do anything about the feedback. Some companies even include a few additional questions or an open-ended response field after the Net Promoter score to collect additional feedback and comments.

Though administering the survey takes time, the real work begins once the score has been tallied. Now, there are three very important actions:

  1. Share it with everyone on the team from the part-timers to the executive C-suite …immediately. EVERYONE must understand what that number means to the customer experience and where each person can influence that experience.

  2. Follow through and circle back. If you want customers to willingly respond and offer feedback in the future, then you must let them know they were heard. Share what you plan on doing based on the feedback received (good and bad!)

  3. A growth path means continuous improvement, so even if we get a high score, we have work to do. A look back on the last few years of pandemic chaos found that many companies received decreased scores. Even if you achieved a fairly high Score, you should make it a goal to turn the Detractors and Passives into Promoters by digging into the responses and selecting 2-3 to really focus on.

Where Should I Start?

Start by determining how often you want to survey your customers. Many companies survey once a year. Others ask on a bi-annual or quarterly basis. Still others include the link with every purchase. Just be aware of how often you ask your customers to provide feedback. Too often may lead to frustration, resulting in a higher number of Detractors.

There are a lot of survey administration options out there, ranging from free and easy-to-use to paid services where another company manages the administration and tallying. The Resultants use SurveyMonkey and survey our clients on an annual basis. Regardless of what you use, we encourage you to start benchmarking and uncovering how your customers value their experience with you. Use their responses as a guide to your strategy.

Author, Terri Wilcox, is a co-founder and Business Advisor with The Resultants®. To learn more about Terri, visit our Team Page or connect with her on LinkedIn.


Our Net Promoter Score

We are proud to share a few of our key takeaways and results from our recent Net Promoter Score campaign. If you would like more information on how to set up a survey campaign, send us a note at We are happy to help.


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