How to Use NPS® Data to Transform the Customer Journey

How to turn NPS data into an improved experience throughout the customer journey.


Sara Staffaroni

March 21, 2019

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So you’ve decided to use an NPS (Net Promoter Score®) survey to improve your brand’s customer experience (CX). You’ve decided on the distribution channels and the interactions that will trigger the survey. You’ve also made a spiffy design to present the survey, showcasing the care you put into asking the NPS question. Finally, you’ve sent out the survey and you’ve sorted your respondents into Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

Now, how do you use your NPS data to actually make your customers’ experience better? A great approach is to map the NPS data to your customer journey.

This means mapping your NPS results where your customers encounter, acquire, and interact with your product or service. The better the experience is at each point in the journey, the happier your customers will be.

The customer journey

At the simplest level, the customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that your customers go through when interacting with your brand. It starts with simple awareness of your brand, and moves to purchase and then hopefully to longer-term retention and repeat purchase.

There are many specific points along the path that are vital to the impression you make as a company:

  • The customer finds something they want that you sell.

  • The customer asks sales or customer reps a question about the color options or the return policy

  • The customer gives you their email for promotions.

  • The customer buys your product, they begin experiencing the product first-hand, and perhaps they go on happily using it forever and you never interact again—or more often, the journey continues.

  • The customer talks about your product on social media

  • The customer buys more of your product

  • The customer contacts your support team

  • …and so the customer journey goes on.

The customer journey happens whether you’re explicitly thinking about and planning for it or not. However, the more consciously you can curate and mediate every little touchpoint along the journey, the more insight you will gain and the more meaningful it will be when you map it to your NPS data results.

As you think through the customer journey you can take two concrete actions to improve happiness with help from the NPS survey:

First, make a detailed list of every customer touchpoint you can think of: review every communication channel you have to make sure you’re capturing everything, including social media interactions, website and customer service behaviors, and feedback surveys. Make sure to include other departments in this brainstorm session too—they might have interactions you don’t always consider.

Second, use that map to sort your customers into different types as they journey along the timeline: from peruser (AKA casual browser) to prospect, to trial user to purchaser, then active customer, passive occasional customer, or a point of lost business.

How NPS data speaks to the customer journey

Next, you’re ready to combine that customer journey map and customer cohorts with your NPS data to get a detailed sense of how each interaction influences customers’ overall sense of loyalty and happiness. There are a couple of useful ways to do this.

Analyze the NPS numbers

NPS is a broad-strokes measurement. A “con” of the metric that is often cited is that while NPS tells you how customers feel about your company overall, it doesn’t directly drill down to the specifics as other surveys do. But you can actually use NPS data to do that drilling.

First, make sure your NPS survey is not anonymous: you want to know who is in each category so you can draw meaningful conclusions.

Second, break the data into meaningful chunks to get to the whys: do customers at every stage and with every type of product/plan feel the same way about your company? Or do different NPS scores correlate to different customer populations?

This is where sorting your customers into stages along the customer journey comes in. You can break this down in any number of ways depending on the type of business you have, but let’s say you have the following types of customers:

  • Peruser

  • Prospect

  • Trial user

  • First-time Purchaser

  • Passive occasional customer

  • Regular, active customer

  • Point of lost business

*Pre-purchase users are included because NPS surveys can be used as a sales research tool as well, offering a more global picture of how your company is perceived, not only by those who have purchased.

If you match those points to your NPS types and find that all the Detractors are passive users, then you can take action by reaching out to those customers to find out what they are missing and what might tempt them to become more active and involved. 

Using this insight in conjunction with additional demographics from your CRM such as age, geographic area, plan type, how they use the product—whatever is relevant—turns your NPS data into a powerful tool for revealing actionable information. 

Map the NPS Comments

NPS surveys don’t have to invite customer comments, but it’s useful to include them. To avoid having to deal with hundreds or thousands of comments at once, you can survey customers 90 days after they sign up or make a purchase. This way, you get a small number per day that’s much easier to process.

Go through the comments in detail to capture items that speak directly to points along the customer journey you mapped, and look for ways to ease pain or encourage happiness. For example, if you sell home insulation, words like “drafty” or “cozy” speak directly to the customers’ experience of your product and will push them in the direction of Detractor or Promoter.

If you have a large volume of comments, use a word cloud or theme analysis to capture the most common words. Then you can see what matches up with your NPS score. If you have a high score and a lot of positive words, you know you’re doing something right that you can build on. If you have a lot of positive words but your score is lower, maybe you are not providing your customers with adequate ways to communicate their distress. Opening lines of communication may help rebuild your positive loyalty score.

And of course, it’s worth spending a little extra time to highlight the pithiest, interesting comments for your marketing and product teams.

Apply your NPS data insight to improve the customer experience

Armed with your NPS data mapped to the customer journey, you can now take concrete actions to make that journey happier. Did you find out that although your overall NPS score is ok, it’s hugely boosted by first-time purchasers and then dropping off significantly? Maybe your regular customers could use a little extra love. And so on.

By aligning your NPS results with the customer journey, you can enhance your journey map with more substantial, quantitative data. In turn, this data can help you capture ROI (ie. boosting NPS from a 7 to a 9 at the onboarding stage decreased churn by 8% later down the road) and acquire resources to improve customer experience.

Check Out Our New Net Promoter Score (NPS) Guide

Final words on NPS data

Thinking of NPS in terms of the customer journey can give you valuable data to help your customers feel happy along every step of the way, from prospect to purchaser to a long-time, loyal customer. Remember, this is a creative process and no single approach works for everyone. You are always in the process of getting to know your specific customers: it’s all about relationship-building. And like all relationships, it’s a journey.

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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.