Businesses Cannot Live by NPS Alone

The Net Promoter Score has been a standard for assessing and communicating customer happiness for years. Many businesses tout high NPS scores as the end-all measure of customer health. But are you getting the complete picture of your customer satisfaction using just this metric alone?

NPS follows a 10-point scale for customers to rate the likelihood of recommending your company to friends and family. There are three tiers to this system: Promoters (a 9-10 rating), Passives (a 7-8 rating) and Detractors (a 0-6 rating). Promoters will not only recommend you to others but also become brand loyalists. These customers provide the staying power that will help the business grow. Passives are content with the product or service but are not likely to pass along the brand name. Detractors are unhappy and likely to speak negatively if asked about the company in question.

NPS is often viewed as the most important indicator of customer satisfaction. In actuality, NPS is just one piece of the customer success measurement puzzle. While NPS is a fair indicator of customer loyalty, there are limitations to its capacity to genuinely reflect actual customer satisfaction. Below are further measures customer success managers should take into account when determining how satisfied their customers are with their product offerings.

B2B vs. B2C Scoring

Traditionally, companies have measured NPS the same way regardless of whether their customers are individual consumers or other businesses. For a B2C company, the NPS survey recipient is the consumer. For a B2B company, the NPS survey should reflect the overall satisfaction and loyalty of the entire business, not just the primary user. However, in most B2B cases, the main client contact is the only person to take the survey, thus speaking on behalf of an entire team. This lack of standardization has led to skewed NPS measures for business products. For B2B companies to compile accurate and comprehensive NPS scores, they should aggregate NPS scores across the entire user base rather than just one individual. Evaluate the way your company distributes and measures NPS to ensure that your numbers are accurate depictions of customer satisfaction.

Brand Engagement and Customer Success Management

Customers are not just users of your product, they are patrons for your brand. How are your customers engaging with your company outside of the product platform? Are they visiting the website regularly, opening email, attending webinars, and contacting their customer success managers? If a customer goes out of his way to seek out your resources, he is invested in using the product to reach his goals. A customer frequently contacting a customer success manager with issues is not a cause to panic. These users invest time into working through problems so products can perform to their satisfaction. More often than not, an invested user is, in the end, a satisfied user.

Schedule regular check-ins with users to gather anecdotal evidence about their satisfaction. These team members can provide insights and knowledge that numbers can't reach. Don't count these employees out.

Milestone achievements

There is a good chance customers discussed their business goals during kickoff calls or onboarding meetings. Unfortunately, these goals often get forgotten as customer success managers react to client needs throughout the customer lifecycle. Understanding whether your product is helping a customer reach his goals and how is an important component of customer health. Maybe the customer is thrilled with the look and feel of your product but doesn't feel that it is affecting goal progress. While this customer appears healthy on the exterior, in actuality, she is unlikely to renew. Encourage your customer success managers to ask the right questions around goals and achievements. This information is another essential component of a comprehensive customer health assessment.

To understand the health of customers, a complete assessment, including NPS, brand engagement, customer success manager engagement, and goal progress is essential. Using a survey methodology like NPS alone will provide a static, one-dimensional measure of customer satisfaction. But combining NPS with these other significant indicators will give a holistic evaluation of each customer. Using NPS with these other measures, you can proactively gauge customer happiness and ultimately improve retention.

Haresh Gangwani is co-founder and CEO of Bolstra, provider of a customer success management platform. Prior to founding Bolstra, he spent 15 years at Aprimo in roles ranging from product strategy to business development.