How to Use Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) to Drive Growth

Many companies measure NPS, but few use it to its fullest potential. The Net Promoter Score survey isn't where the magic happens—it’s where it begins.


Chris Boeckelman

February 15, 2019

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Interested in learning more about your customers so you can improve products, enhance customer experience, and ultimately drive growth? It’s time to implement a Net Promoter Score (NPS) program.

Net Promoter Score is a trusted measure of customer loyalty. It can help companies understand their audiences by quantifying customer sentiment toward products and services.

Many companies measure NPS, but few use it to its fullest potential. The Net Promoter Score survey isn’t where the magic happens—it’s where it begins. Unlike conventional surveys, you won’t benefit from sitting back and waiting for NPS results to roll in. To get valuable insights, you have survey strategically.

NPS can illuminate the customer journey at each stage when properly segmented. This segmentation becomes vital during survey analysis. Companies can identify which areas of business are performing well versus poorly by examining customer feedback from each phase. In a way, this forms a timeline of customer happiness.

In this post, we’ll explore how NPS can drive growth by delivering key insights at various stages of the customer lifecycle.

The Ins & Outs of NPS

How does NPS work?

NPS asks one simple question that’s predictive of both repurchase and referral:

“How likely are you to recommend our business to a friend or colleague?”

Customers can answer on a scale of 1 to 10. Respondents are divided into Detractors (0-6), Passives (7-8), and Promoters (9-10).

how to use nps

After customers respond, you can calculate your NPS score: the quantifiable measure of how your customers feel about you.

net promoter score calculation

This score can then be used as a baseline for customer sentiment. Putting a metric to customer happiness helps you focus your efforts on moving the needle.

NPS groupings (Promoters, Detractors & Passives) can inform your messaging too. Audiences appreciate personalization. Plus, it advances business interests when you send the right message to the right person at the right time. For example, you could email promoters asking for public reviews, send passives a reengagement newsletter highlighting new features, or offer detractors special promotions.

NPS surveys position companies to ask grander, strategic questions, like What do prospects think of our onboarding process? and What is it like to buy from our company? The results add major value and transparency to initiatives.

Sending an NPS survey throughout the customer journey

Companies often send just one NPS survey to their newest customers. Though useful, that data only represents a sliver of the customer experience. Sending NPS surveys across all customer segments allows you to compare success at each stage and identify flaws.

The customer lifecycle has been written about plenty, but when it comes to NPS segments, we suggest focusing on these 5 key groups.


Who are they?

How to use NPS


These people haven’t made a purchase yet. They’ve either signed up for your trial, downloaded a white paper or ebook, or possibly just visited your website. Prospects are interacting with your website, trial, onboarding materials, and inside sales team.

Survey this group on your website or shortly after capturing their contact information. This gives you a sense of public perception of your brand.

New Customers

These people have recently purchased your product for the first time. New customers have given you money and decided your product is the right fit for them. They’ve most recently interacted with your sales team, moved through your purchase process, and implemented your product or service.

Surveying customers 30-60 days after purchase will give you a sense of your onboarding process from the customer’s perspective. It will also reflect the quality of service your sales team provides, plus the overall value your solution offers during the early phases.


These people have made a purchase and are coming up for renewal. Renewals have used your product for a while and have likely interacted with your support organization. They’re about to decide if they should stick with your company.

Survey this group to find out if there are any roadblocks that may prevent them from choosing your brand again. This way, you have an opportunity to make adjustments before it's too late.


These are long-time customers who have made multiple purchases. Advocates are attached to your products or solutions. They’re typically power-users who heavily rely on your business, and they’re most likely to refer new customers.

Surveying this group at least once a year is an absolute necessity. Their feedback can teach you how to create more advocates.


This is one of the most interesting groups to survey. Losses decided you weren’t the solution for them. Their feedback is impactful because it reveals flaws that may result in more lost customers down the line.

Loss surveys will probably result in a whole lot of detractors. That’s okay.

Closing the feedback loop

NPS is easy to use and great for quantitative analysis. However, it can be a bit sterile on its own. Companies get the most out of NPS surveys when they leave room for qualitative feedback too. Some include an NPS follow-up question that asks customers to elaborate on their rating, like this:

“What is the reason for your answer?”

Customers’ open-ended responses add context to hard numbers. They also drive more positive change. Maybe someone rated your company poorly and their follow-up response highlights an incredibly simple, solvable problem. Or maybe several happy customers mention an underfunded initiative—you can revisit spending and possibly put more money toward an effort that’s proven to boost customer happiness.

Some organizations even take this step further by implementing an SLA (service level agreement). Every detractor gets a personal follow-up from an employee. This interaction helps the company dig deeper into the customer’s situation. It also shows the customer how seriously the company takes customer satisfaction. Sometimes the simple gesture of reaching out personally actually ends up transforming the customer’s attitude.

With Salesforce surveys, departments can partially automate this escalation process using workflows. A workflow could create a follow-up task for the customer’s account manager, or even automatically reopen support cases that receive poor survey responses. This sets the recovery process into motion, leading to quicker action.

Choosing the right time to send NPS surveys

All this is well and good, but when should you send out customer surveys to get the best possible results?

There are two main approaches:

  • Trigger-based – Surveys are sent when a customer does something, like contact your support center, sign up for a trial, or renew their subscription.

  • Time-based – Surveys are sent depending on how long a customer has been with your company. For example, a company might send the first NPS survey 30 days after the customers joins or 60 days before they’re scheduled to renew.

You’ll want to send out an initial NPS survey early on in the customer relationship. That way, all follow-up NPS surveys can track how customer sentiment changes over time and through each phase of the customer journey. If you survey the same customer every 6 months, you’ll have metrics that speak to customer relationship development over time.

NPS is a measure of long-term customer loyalty, so it may make sense to survey all of your customers once or twice per year, possibly on pre-established dates. Just make sure you’re not overloading customers with NPS surveys. The same customer shouldn’t receive an NPS survey more than once every 6 months or so.

You can prevent survey overload by time-stamping all surveys and responses. At the very least, you’ll have a way to determine the last time someone received an NPS survey. This makes excluding recent recipients simple. (Read more about improving survey response rates.)

Analyzing and acting on NPS results

What use is NPS if you aren’t turning the results into powerful action?

Bain & Company, the inventors of NPS, suggest a five-point customer feedback checklist to make the most of NPS:

  1. Have you reached a consensus on your business’s five most critical “moments of truth” with customers?

  2. Do employees and managers get customer feedback routinely, on a daily or weekly basis?

  3. Do you let customers know the impact their feedback had on improving your processes?

  4. Do you know what percentage of detractors your operations can convert into promoters through service recovery processes?

  5. Can you put a dollar value on turning a detractor into a promoter?

The five-point checklist provides a good baseline for action. If you analyze the results, close the feedback loop, and use data from NPS to dictate your roadmap, you’ll increase revenue, reduce churn, and improve customer experience. At the end, this means more advocates, ready to spread the good word.

The key to long-term NPS success

nps for salesforce

If your organization is serious about NPS, you need to consider taking one extra step: integrate NPS with your CRM.

A basic NPS program can provide a great deal of customer insights on its own. But integrate NPS data with your CRM, and you can transform a basic score into a dynamic indicator of customer health. With this Voice of the Customer program, lifetime trends overlay standard customer data, giving you a 360-degree view of the customer.

Once NPS data is embedded into your CRM data, you can easily track promoters, detractors, and passives alongside standard customer data, like opportunities, products, and support cases. Everyone with CRM access can see the scores, including sales and support teams. The entire organization can see which customer type (promoter, detractor, passive) they’re about to talk to, before they even pick up the phone or send an email. This adds powerful context that helps teams make the best decisions for the customer and the business.

If you want to focus on detractors, standard CRM functionality makes it easy for you to create a case or follow-up task when you receive a negative score. You can systematically track the follow-up process, record information as your reps receive it, and follow their score changes over time.

Your CRM is where you customer data lives, so your customer feedback should live there too. Once NPS results are integrated, your management team will have a truly holistic view of customer health.


Customers may be with you for weeks, months, or years. You want to understand their experience today so you can deliver a better one tomorrow.

By sending an NPS survey at different stages of the customer lifecycle, you can chart customer sentiment, identify weak spots, and make more customer-conscious decisions. When businesses adopt a proactive approach to customer care, customers reward them with their loyalty.

Check Out Our New Net Promoter Score (NPS) Guide

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*Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.