NPS has rapidly gained popularity for a number of reasons. One of its appeals is the shorter length of surveys. But how short is too short?

The purists say that NPS only requires 2 questions:

1.  How likely are you to recommend ‘XYZ organisation’ to a friend or colleague on a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is Highly Unlikely while 10 is Highly Likely)

2.  The second question is open ended and asks respondents the reason for the score above

The above 2 question NPS survey provides a Net Promoter Score and, for many businesses, thousands of open qualitative comments.

With this in mind there are 2 key aspects you must consider:

  • Many customer responses to open ended questions in surveys can be lazy i.e. “good service” or “bad service”.  Businesses can be inundated with hundreds, thousands, or even more of such responses. Making key strategic decisions based on such responses does not provide sufficient clues as to the key drivers of good or bad performance.
  • NPS is optimally used NOT as a small, sample based survey but rather with large numbers of responses.

Having said this, can a two question survey really meet the needs of the key internal stakeholders that are essential to improving your Net Promoter Score?

The three levels of stakeholders who are essential to an effective NPS implementation are:

-The CEO & Senior Executive

-Middle Management

-Frontline Staff

Let’s look at the needs of each of the above stakeholders.

CEO & Senior Executive

The NPS question by itself provides a metric which is particularly useful for the Senior Executive to monitor trends, set goals, compare departments or individuals internally or benchmark externally. NPS as a metric is one unifying, organisation-wide score that is known to correlate to growth and loyalty so the Senior Executive and CEO and can quickly gauge the effectiveness of key strategies. However the second question, which provides the reason for customers’ Net Promoter Scores, is not that critical to this group. This is because this group does not have the time and effort to sift through and understand the overwhelming number of responses most organisations would receive.

Frontline Staff

While the Senior Executive do not need to look at the reasons for their customers’ scores, this is particularly useful for frontline staff who can see responses specific to their individual interactions (or their teams/departments/regions) with their customers. They can look at the responses to understand in detail what worked, what didn’t, and get new ideas straight from their customers. This relevant and detailed feedback can be used to tailor their interactions with customers. The responses to the open questions add depth to the Net Promoter Score when used by frontline staff because the numerical score can become something with context and meaning. Once the results are cascaded to smaller frontline teams they do not have to read too many responses. Of course you need detailed customer responses not ‘lazy’ responses.

Middle Managers

However, the task of improving NPS by functional areas and cross-functionally typically falls to functional heads and middle managers. A two question survey is just not adequate for this group. On the one hand they have a score and on the other hand thousands of open responses. Note some of these open comments could be ‘lazy’ in nature as explained previously. Neither the score or the open response data is sufficient for this group. This group needs to understand the following key elements rapidly and in real time:

1.  Key drivers and pain points

2.  Areas that require  increased focus

3.  Performance of key interaction channels

4.  People & team performance

This can then be used to provide a laser like focus on key improvement areas to drive business performance, loyalty and growth.

Our view is that a two question survey may only work if you are a small organisation that has a small number of customers and interactions. But the two question NPS survey does not suit a medium or large organisation which could receive thousands of survey responses.

The NPS discipline revolves around taking strategic action based on customer feedback. By adding a few strategic questions middle management can identify, understand and assess key pain points and drivers of NPS. These few questions give them critical additional insight they require focus their organisation’s efforts on departmental and cross-functional initiatives to propel their NPS forward.

So are we saying ask 20+ questions that take 15+ minutes to answer? Absolutely not!

Our recommendation is a short survey with a total of 6-8 questions around key interactions, value propositions and experiences. Of course these additional questions need to be tailored for each organisation based on their unique customer journeys. A NPS survey which asks the NPS question, reason for the score and these key strategic questions enables and empowers the three levels of internal stakeholders to take action and optimise their organisation’s NPS implementation.

Views and comments are welcome.

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