By now many PMs, UXers and most UXRs know that NPS is not a perfect tool.
I'm here to give you answers to three questions you might have about NPS.
- What's the problem with NPS?
- What is better than NPS?
- How do I get that implemented in my company? (get stakeholder buy-in)
So let's get straight to it.
What's the problem with NPS?
There are three. Not many you think. But they are pretty bad.
Turns out people don't what they say
One of the main issues with NPS is that it asks customers about their future behavior, which is often difficult to predict. For example, a customer may say they are highly likely to recommend a product to others, but then never actually do so. On the other hand, a customer who initially seems hesitant about recommending a product may end up doing so after experiencing positive results.
The NPS method mixes data, which makes it hard to interpret
Another flaw with NPS is that it mixes quantitative and qualitative data, which can make it difficult to analyze and draw meaningful insights. NPS asks customers to rate their likelihood of recommending a product on a scale of 0-10, and then follows up with an open-ended question asking why they gave that score.
I've read many NPS answers. I analysed month-over-month changes in NPS. Spent hours on it. Learned nothing. - Niko
NPS is calculated with weird clustering
Finally, NPS uses a clustering technique that groups several answers into one cluster to reduce noise. While this may seem like a useful way to simplify the data, it actually decreases the accuracy of the results. By clustering answers together, important nuances and variations in customer sentiment are lost.
Why can't we just use the average?
Cool, so I'm now a detractor of the NPS method.
Let's get constructive.
What is better than NPS?
As a product manager, your main goal is to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.
If NPS does not give you good data to achieve that goal, we have to get you better data.
You have a few options:
- Get rid of NPS and replace it with another micro survey that's better. Usually, managers don't like this. They like their NPS.
- Enhance the NPS
- Separate product usability scoring from high-level NPS
Let's go through them one by one.
Get rid of NPS
If you can get everyone to agree on this, let's go. Simplest solution.
Measuring customer happiness and loyalty can be done in different and better ways. But keep measuring. Don't just get rid of NPS to fly blind.
Set up a survey that replaces NPS. Use a simple survey that asks users about real behavior. Examples:
- how well does product x solve your problem right now? (not at all - very well)
- how many people have you recommended product x to in the last month?
Most importantly, look at churn on the quantitative side.
Then ask churned customers for a chance to talk to them. Interviewing churned clients can hurt but be an incredible source of qualitative data.
If you don't want to design your own survey, you can chose from one of the alternatives coming up shortly here.
Enhance the NPS
If your HiPPOs or stakeholders or whoever need/want to stay with NPS, then use the chance to enhance it.
Example: Add a call to action right after the user completed NPS. Some % of people will talk to you, and you can get the in-depth context behind their responses.
Separate product usability scoring from high-level NPS
NPS is for business.
Add another survey for product. Ideally at different times in the usage cycle.
- Post-test System Usability Scale (SUS)
- Post-task Single Ease Question (SEQ)
- Post-task NASA-TLX
Three popular survey instruments for measuring usability and workload are SUS, SEQ, and NASA-TLX. These are quantitative measures that require a reasonably large sample size to provide valid measurements. However, for most practical UX research, simple satisfaction questionnaires with as few questions as possible are recommended.
How do I get that implemented in my company? (get stakeholder buy-in)
This is a hard one.
Humans are complex and differ in their motivation, intelligence, empathy and most importantly, in their ability to change their point of view.
But I'd ask questions, like:
Hey, I just want to understand how NPS is helping us right now. Because I'd need different information to really drive the product forward. So I want to understand how it's helping you, and maybe how we can enhance it, so it can also help me.
And take it from there. Very situational.
If you are stuck arguing about how to improve your NPS, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn.
Want even more tactical tips? I've collected templates over the years, that help me daily. They help me onboard faster with teams, brainstorm more collaboratively and communicate outcomes more crisply.
In conclusion, while NPS may seem like a widely accepted and effective tool for measuring customer satisfaction, it is actually flawed in several ways. To truly drive customer satisfaction, product managers should focus on asking about past behavior, separating quantitative and qualitative data, and using statistical metrics to analyze the results.
Firstly understanding that NPS is flawed in these ways helps us put its results into context. By adopting a different way of asking about satisfaction, we can gain a more accurate and reliable understanding of customer sentiment, and make informed decisions that improve the overall customer experience.
Important last note: Don't get stuck in "complaining about NPS" mode. That won't make you any friends. It will also fail to drive customer satisfaction up.