NPS for customer success

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NPS is a tried and true metric particularly in customer success. However, if used as a standalone effort, it rarely provides any actionable insights.

The true power of NPS comes when it’s mixed with other customer success metrics and health scores to inform and improve the entire CS workflow.

NPS can furthermore radically shift the entire company’s focus as a high number of detractors is one of the scariest things you can see as a business owner.

Today, I’ll showcase some experience-based tips and tricks to improve your customer success initiatives through NPS. We’ll cover 

  • retention, 
  • loyalty, 
  • health scores, 
  • VoC programs,
  • automation, and a lot more.

1. Use Recurring NPS Surveys to Gather More Relevant Insights

Simply adding an NPS survey to your workflow because it’s the norm won’t get you, your product, or your company anywhere. That’s because you’re getting the what, not the why, and in a space as volatile as the SaaS sector, context is everything.

Instead of conducting a single NPS survey, a good tip is to add it repeatedly and in predictable spaces. Of course, these questions can be optional and non-invasive so as not to annoy your users.

However, there’s something to be said about teaching your users to expect an NPS question whenever they, for example, click the green button (or complete whatever specific step you decide is important for your product). 

By employing basic design principles of repetition, you can essentially shape the user experience so customers start to think of an answer to your NPS questions before they’re even posed.

Pairing this with feedback text and sentiment analysis will also allow you to see how your product efforts directly influence both your NPS score and the respective feedback you get.

2. Integrate NPS Feedback in Your VoC Program and Implement It

Allowing customers to express why they’re rating you a certain way is already a best practice for all NPS surveys. But CSMs will recognize an opportunity to act here.

Voice of the Customer programs are common elements of any CSMs toolset. A VoC process allows businesses to focus on individual user feedback and, after a bit of vetting, implement that specific feedback directly into the product or service.

One of the challenges with VoCs is that honest user feedback is hard to get. By adding a an additional question after the initial NPS question asking them what is the primary reason for their score, you’re nudging customers to think about why they’re rating you a certain way.

In time, and especially if you go for regular NPS surveys, that feedback will become more honest and feature-specific. By using VoC tactics together with NPS, you’re essentially making both efforts a lot more efficient at increasing retention and driving loyalty throughout your customer base.

As a consumer, you see NPS surveys everywhere now. Because of that, CSMs need to be tactical in only asking when it matters instead of a “just want to check-in.” I highly recommend CSMs to use NPS to spark further discussion and conversation with customers, and to not just think of it as a metric or a report card of what has happened.

Jennifer Chiang, Head of Customer Success at Seso and Author of The Startup’s Guide to Customer Success

3. Reward Customers Who Provide Frequent NPS Feedback

One of the basic tenets of customer success is making customers feel valued. Rewards can be a great way to do that.

It’s estimated that 77% of customers have a positive opinion of a brand if they seek out and apply customer feedback. You can use your NPS surveys to your advantage and become one of those trendsetters.

If you pose NPS questions often enough, some of your customers will eventually stand out as frequent respondents. You must hang on to those accounts and do everything in your power to keep them loyal.

To that effect, you can:

  • Thank customers who provide feedback. A simple thank you always goes a long way in customer relations.
  • Explain how you’re going about fixing the issues. Carefully review the problems that customers report and, if one seems pertinent, spend the time to tell that customer what you’re doing based on their feedback.
  • Report back to the customer if you’ve fixed the issue. Closing the loop is a fantastic way to make customers feel appreciated.
  • Offer rewards and discounts. A free month off their subscription, a small gift basket, a nice gift card – all of these are great ideas to show customers that you value the time they put into providing feedback.

Remember, customers have their own workflows, tasks, and various work stressors. Even so, they’re taking a few minutes out of their day just to be honest with you in a feedback form. That should tell you all you need to know about how valuable they are to your business.

4. Improve Health Scoring per Customer Lifecycle Stage by Using NPS

As the backbone of any serious customer success strategy, health scores play a fundamental role in understanding customer behavior and trends.

The winning strategy is to have multiple health scores per account, and one approach is to set health scores based on customer journey stages. Naturally, certain features and metrics are more important during the onboarding stage, while more advanced ones kick in as the account gains experience.

So, to benefit from NPS in conjunction with health scores, you can:

  1. Implement health scores based on customer lifecycle stages. Figure out which features are most important for which users and track related activity.
  2. Implement NPS surveys next to your top features. Once you know which features get the most mileage per lifecycle stage, you can add NPS surveys next to them to see how customers feel during each stage.
  3. Correlate health score data with NPS data. Putting two and two together, you can easily tell which customers and which product features need the most attention.

By putting these all together and using the insights you gain, you’ll be able to  find more customer retention and loyalty opportunities. you can then, in turn, implement them far more effectively than before.

5. Match Promoters, Passives, and Detractors to Specific Account Metrics

Speaking of correlations, matching NPS data with account metrics can also tell you a lot about your promoters, passives, and detractors.

For each of the three categories of NPS responders, write down the following:

  • How many times they logged into your product.
  • How many features of the product they used.
  • Their most used feature in the product.
  • Features they didn’t access within the product.
  • Friction points or points where they got stuck.
  • The average session duration.
  • The number of support tickets and interactions.
  • Account details, size, and goals within your product.

All these and more can be neatly packed and analyzed inside a spreadsheet. 

You’ll possibly be able to gather some rare and fresh insights that might completely change your opinion of your customers– and how your business operates. You might discover there’s, for example,  a big delivery gap, and that’s something you should never take lightly.

6. Analyze NPS Patterns and Implement Auto Reach-out Automation

Net Promoter Score surveys are an insightful tool that allows your customers to freely express themselves. Of course, as a CSM you have many touch points where you gather feedback, you make sure you build a relationship with the customer, and take the best possible care of the account, but many factors can influence CX.

An NPS survey quantifies customer satisfaction into an actual score, which can be the trigger for multiple playbooks that ensure a better customer experience. Not only that, but by analyzing and acting on the feedback you receive, it will also help you grow your business.

Irina Vatafu, Lead Customer Success Manager at Custify

As Irina says, you can take advantage of NPS to create playbooks for automatic, proactive reach-out. 

The basics of proactive customer reach-out are:

  1. Find a reason to talk to a customer: could be a friction point you’re detecting, an article you want to send, or simply to check in
  2. Send a message on their preferred channel: using customer account info, find the place where that customer is most likely to reply. This could also be where they most often reply to NPS surveys. Next, all that’s left is to reach out.
  3. Automate whatever you can automate: frequent support issues, friction points, churn precursors, account warnings, payment issues – all these and more have standard replies that you can set up in your CS software to go out automatically.

Implementing automation in customer success is a brilliant way to lighten your workload and lower the number of support tickets, all while making sure you still take care of your clients.

Proactive Customer Reach-Out and NPS

NPS surveys can inform the proactive reach-out process. 

Once you determine your promoters, passives, and detractors and correlate account metrics based on the suggestions above, your possibilities for automation grow:

Automation for Promoters

You can set up an automation for promoters to send them all your marketing launches privately (such as guides, eBooks, etc) to help them learn and encourage them to share the materials to their professional network. Pro tip: to make them feel even more special, ask them for quotes to feature in your eBook prior to launch.

Automation for Passives

You can set up an automation for passives to bring them back to the product, encourage them or teach them to use your top value features, or ask them for more information about their goals so you can help.

Automation for Detractors

You can set up an automation for detractors to frequently check in or reassure them you’re a message away. These customers are the trickiest to talk to since they have a negative opinion of their relationship with you and your product. Everything you do must be carefully planned and respectful so you don’t push them even further towards churning.

These are simply some examples of how to mix NPS data and proactive reach-out tactics. Depending on your niche, customers, and CS team, you can brainstorm and implement other tactics that could fit your business more.

7. Make A Plan to Cater to Your Detractors

Detractors might look like a sore thumb in your overall workflows. You might be thinking: “if they hate us so much, why should I spend time catering to their every whim?”

It’s a natural response. It’s also wrong.

Those detractors say they’re not likely to recommend you to their friends. But some, if not all, that means they’re very much ready to write a negative review. All they need is a little push off the edge, and every one of their 6,000 LinkedIn connections will immediately learn about their bad experience with you, your company, and your product.

Instead of allowing that to happen, you can simply take the initiative and, based on your business, tailor a plan specifically for those customers. You can even use proactive engagement tactics like the ones mentioned above.

Whatever you do, speed and efficiency are key in these situations, and inaction will cost you significantly more than a simple message saying, “Hello, could you please let us know what we can do better?”

Summing Up

Customer expectations evolve over time along with your product. What might’ve been a product differentiator a year ago can now be an expected feature. It’s a normal evolution, particularly in the highly-dynamic SaaS space, so adapting is your only choice. 

If used correctly, NPS surveys offer a brief window into how customers truly see your product. The results tell you how to adapt, what features to add, what functionalities to prioritize, and what customer goals you should be catering towards.

So using NPS intelligently for customer success is a must for any company serious about staying competitive. Does that include you?

The article was written in cooperation with the Custify product team.