This is a guest post by TJ Stein. TJ is the Sr. Director of Customer Support for Media Temple, a Los Angeles-based company that provides premium web hosting and cloud services to web designers, developers and creative agencies.

A few weeks ago, I came across a terrific post by Sarah Chambers of Kayako on how to dig deeper into Net Promoter Scores. Sarah used an example of plotting NPS against CSAT (Customer Satisfaction), then grouping the results into cohorts. The conclusion was spot on – you won’t get as much value from your NPS score without meaningful context.

How each organization delivers, interprets and utilizes NPS may vary of course. What I can share are some of the most common truths from organizations getting the most out of NPS:

  • Solicit stakeholder support: NPS results aren’t a reflection of just a specific facet of your company, they represent the entire brand. Stakeholders in product, customer success, marketing, and UX should be aware of the program and look for the truths in the results. Successful organizations are able to integrate this feedback into a framework for helping shape their priorities and roadmap. The hope is that every interaction with your brand should be one that will have them walking away being a promoter.
  • Forget the number; study the trend: It’s easy to get caught up in the score. After all, that’s what will be in the minds of many. But if you’re trying to get better as an organization, it’s best to pay closer attention to the trend. One way to leverage this philosophy is by tagging events, like a product launch or a price change, on a linear spectrum of your overall NPS score. When you notice a fluctuation, you can look through past events that may have led to that variation. If you’re capturing customer comments with your survey, use these comments to validate your assumptions.
  • Transform feedback into insight and action: Identifying your at-risk customers, as well as the customers who love you is generally painless with NPS. What’s not so painless is creating workflows that facilitate insight and action for your team. Organizations must create closed-loop processes and integrate them into their everyday operations. How will you handle detractors? What will you do with passives? How will you share feedback with other stakeholders?
  • Slice and dice the data: On it’s own, NPS can be discouraging at times because it doesn’t tell you what to do. But if you’re able to plot results against a specific product, point of purchase or other dimension of your organization, the results get much more interesting. Imagine being able to see that 60% of your detractors all have the same product. When you plot that same 60% against another dimension – customer region – you can see customers a specific region aren’t getting sufficient service levels. Now you’ve got some actionable data to deliver to your operations team.
  • Play the long game: Loyalty must be earned and nurtured; there are no shortcuts. In my experience, customer sentiment often moves at a glacial pace. Even when you’re doing all the right things, making progress can be a long and arduous road. The challenge is keeping your team focused on bringing more value to the customer.

If you’re thinking about starting a NPS program and don’t know how to get started, your best bet is picking up The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive by Fred Reichheld. Reichheld introduced NPS in a pioneering article entitled The One Number You Need to Grow in 2003.