Using NPS In The IT Services Sector

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is probably the most widespread metric in the world of customer research, and a popular one in the IT Services sector. It’s a good fit for the industry, but there are some specific considerations that organisations in this field should think about when choosing NPS for their surveys. It’s important to look beyond the measure itself to ensure that your programme gives you the insight you need to drive change. In this article we’ll discuss some best practices for using NPS in the IT services sector.

The key to great research is ensuring you’re asking the right questions, to the right customers, in the right way. NPS should be part of this approach – and understanding the drivers of your NPS is crucial

Greg Roche, TLF Research Client Director

What is NPS?

In the NPS approach to customer loyalty we ask customers the question “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend [COMPANY]?” and then categorise them into three groups: Promoters (9-10), Passives (7-8), and Detractors (0-6). The NPS itself is based on the difference between the proportion of Promoters and Detractors, so if you had 43% Promoters and 9% Detractors your NPS would be 34.

What’s the best survey method?

Because it uses a numerical scale that is easy for customers, NPS works well through any channel, but it’s important to consider which channel will work best for your customers and give you the highest response rate.

The most common approach is an email or SMS invitation to a web survey, but you might also want to consider website popups, in-app surveys, or SMS surveys. Make sure your electronic surveys are quick easy to complete on any device.

It’s also a good idea to consider telephone or video interviews with key clients and decisions makers, particularly when you want a lot of qualitative insight that will enable you to understand customer needs in detail.

Keep the survey short and to the point

Don't fall into the trap of allowing your survey to become too long. To encourage participation and get a robust result, keep the survey simple and concise. Avoid asking too many questions, as this can lead to survey fatigue and lower response rates. As well as the overall NPS question, make sure you establish the key drivers, understand what makes the most difference between a good and bad experience, and include at least one open-ended question for qualitative feedback.

The “inner” loop - responding to issues

It should go without saying that if you ask customers for their feedback, you need to make sure that you do something with it. Respond to customer feedback as quickly as you can, fixing any “hot alert” issues and outlining how you plan to improve. Even if customers are happy, it’s a good idea to thank them for the time they have taken to respond if you can. Remember to follow up on any commitments you have made, and check in with customers to see if they have noticed improvements.

The “outer” loop - prioritising improvements

As well as responding to customers individually, you need to step back to see the bigger picture, for two reasons. First of all, the people who take part in the survey are representative of a larger customer base, so each individual represents a group of customers you haven’t spoken to with similar experiences. Analyse the drivers of NPS, and ensure that you choose Priorities for Improvement that reflect what matters most to customers.

Secondly, it’s important to focus your efforts to improve the customer experience on prevention as well as cure. You should use root cause analysis to understand what’s causing things to go wrong for customers. You can use tools like fishbone diagrams in workshops with colleagues to diagnose causes and prevent future problems. Try to take a “systems thinking” approach that avoids a focus on blaming individual mistakes and opens up new ways to design an experience that works consistently well.

The right blend of surveys

Use a combination of strategic “relationship” research to understand the health of your customer relationships, particularly with key decision makers and influencers, and tactical “event-driven” research with users.

Relationship surveys can be run annually, periodically, or on an ongoing basis, depending on the size and nature of your customer base. They should be to the point, and focused on the things which matter to customers. Make sure you capture some open comments to help you interpret the scores.

Event-driven surveys should be triggered by particular moments of truth (the relationship survey is a good way to identify what these are), and as soon after the event is complete as possible. They should be very short, and focus on a few key drivers that make a big difference to the customer experience for each event.

You should also use research on a more ad-hoc basis whenever you need to inform a decision or understand customers in more detail. Qualitative in-depth reviews by video or in person are an incredibly valuable tool when it comes to understanding your most important clients and how they see the world, giving a level of insight that no quantitative survey could.

This sector loves customer feedback, but how much of it drives real business change? Is the frequency of feedback reducing participation and leading to ‘paralysis by analysis’?

Greg Roche, TLF Research Client Director

Engaging staff with NPS

Share the NPS results with your employees to keep them informed about customer feedback. Celebrate successes as well as identifying areas for improvement, and make sure that the NPS results are seen as a useful tool to help create a better customer experience rather than as a stick used to beat them.

More important than the score is ensuring that your organisation has a culture of customer focus, and to do that effectively you have to build an environment of psychological safety rather than a blame culture. NPS can contribute to either, depending on the way you use it.

Share your plans to customers

Use a storytelling approach to communication with customers, sharing not just survey findings but also your plans (and actions once these start to take effect). Help customers to notice the improvements you have made, and make sure they know that these are connected to the feedback that they gave.

NPS is a great tool for measuring and improving customer loyalty and satisfaction in the IT services sector. You need to make sure that you use it in the right way, so that is more than just “one number”, but part of a programme of systematic improvement within a customer-centric culture.

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Whether you are considering measuring NPS or thinking about customer research in general, send us a message and a member of our team will get back to you for a chat.