John Eklund, Pro Mach

Measuring Customer Satisfaction

By John Eklund, Pro Mach | Permanent Link

As we all know, word-of-mouth (or a referral) is one of the best measures of success for any company. If a customer is willing to tell other people about your company in a positive manner then odds are you’ve got a satisfied customer. The more satisfied customers you have the more potential customers will seek you out without you having to seek them out.

However, measuring word-of-mouth is difficult. That’s where Net Promoter Score (NPS) comes in. It’s meant to help measure customer loyalty and predict customer retention. While not truly measuring how much new business you get from referrals, it does the next best thing – it measures your customers willingness to give referrals.

The wonderful thing about Net Promoter Score is the simplicity of  the whole thing. To get the data to calculate your NPS you ask your customers one simple question: “How likely is it (on a scale of 0 to 10) that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” That’s it. One question. It’s a beautiful thing. Then to get your NPS you simply take the percentage of promoters (those who answered 9 or 10) and subtract the percentage of detractors (those who answered 4 or lower). See this graphic for a full explanation:

(Graphic credit: Joshua Porter and his Metrics-Driven Design Presentation)

As for the mechanics of the survey, we find that sending out an email with a brief explanation and a link to take the survey online works well. We recommend using radio buttons for the 0 to 10 scale as it’s a way to encourage the user to click on something. Other form options could introduce bias because of a default value or could allow people to choose more than one answer, all of which could undermine your results. We also recommend adding one more question after the NPS question asking your customers something like “What can we do to improve?” and leave them an open text area to type in any comments or suggestions. Expect a response rate of about 10% to 20%, depending on the quality of your customer list.

Large consumer companies that truly focus on customer service (like Amazon) will have a NPS around 80%. It’s said that most average companies have a rating of 5% to 10%.

For those of you who’ve done surveys before you know that asking as few questions as possible helps to encourage people to actually answer the survey. When you can send an email asking someone to take your survey and honestly tell them it should take only about one minute of their time, your response rates will go up. Guaranteed.

The other great thing about Net Promoter Score is it’s a very simple way to stay in touch with your customers. It helps pull the complexity out of the customer satisfaction measurement process and shows your customers that you are paying attention and continually working to improve your business and make them happier.

Getting your first NPS rating is the toughest, because you need to develop a very clean mailing list, find survey software to use, etc. But what getting the first one completed does is set the benchmark for where you are with your customers. If you notice that your NPS is dropping over the next few surveys, you’ll know something is possibly wrong with your customer experience and you can try to figure out what’s going on.

To improve your NPS focus on customer touch points that are likely to have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction. A lot of times you may realize these touch points are the “low hanging fruit” anyway that can turn your good company into a great one. Also focus on any comments you get on your other survey question asking how you can improve and then try to do those things before your next survey goes out.

Net Promoter Score is a good and fairly easy way to measure customer satisfaction. We completed our first NPS survey for one of our Pro Mach divisions a few months ago and got a Net Promoter Score of 66.7% – good, but we’ve got room to improve.

We’d love to hear your comments about your customer satisfaction measurement process, your experience with NPS and anything else.


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