An In-Depth Comparison of Product Reviews and NPS Surveys

An In-Depth Comparison of Product Reviews and NPS Surveys

In today’s fast-paced business environment, customer feedback has become an invaluable resource for brands striving to stay ahead of the curve. By tapping into the voice of the customer, companies can gain a deeper understanding of customer needs and craft meaningful experiences that foster loyalty. Product reviews and Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys are commonly used to measure customer experience and collect zero-party data. 

But while customer reviews have become an integral part of the ecommerce landscape and are here to stay, NPS surveys are just making their way in the DTC industry, although extensively adopted by B2Bs. Consider this, there are 1,796 review tools available in the Shopify marketplace, as opposed to only 33 for NPS software. Quite a difference, wouldn’t you say? So, aren’t brands missing out on essential feedback data?

In this article, we’ll compare post-purchase NPS surveys and product reviews as a measure of customer satisfaction, provide ecommerce businesses with a better understanding of the strengths and limitations of these two methods, and explore whether product reviews can be an alternative or rather complementary to NPS surveys. By understanding the importance of customer feedback and the best ways to gather it, brands can improve customer experience and retention, resulting in increased business growth.

So, let’s get started.

Product Reviews vs. NPS Surveys: Key Differences

Both product reviews and NPS surveys provide valuable insights into how consumers perceive a company’s products. However, they fulfill different roles in the customer experience measurement process. These types of feedback differ in their focus, the information they provide, and the used methods to collect and analyze data. Understanding these differences and how they complement each other can help brands achieve a broader CX perspective. 

Let’s dive into their fundamental differences, shall we?


Product reviews are written evaluations of a product by customers who have purchased and used it. They generally include a  5-star rating system and a text review, providing a first-hand product experience. Users can also add product photos and videos for a complete representation.

An NPS survey is a specific type of customer satisfaction survey that measures how likely users are to recommend a product or service to their friends and colleagues. They ask clients to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 0 to 10 and provide an open-ended question for additional feedback. The results are used to calculate a score that ranges from -100 to 100, with higher scores indicating a higher level of customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Product reviews are directed toward potential customers interested in learning more about a product before making a purchase. This makes them essential for ecommerce businesses and consumer goods industries, helping consumers make informed purchasing decisions. 

NPS surveys focus on existing customers who have already purchased and used the product to measure their loyalty and satisfaction with the brand, including customer service, UI/UX, operations, etc. NPS is a versatile metric popular across various B2B and B2C industries, including SaaS, healthcare, finance, insurance, and other industries where customer satisfaction and loyalty are critical for business success. 


Product reviews are gathered after a customer purchases and engages with  the product. As to NPS, ecommerce businesses are more familiar with  transactional NPS surveys sent immediately or shortly after a transaction or customer support interaction. However, NPS surveys are more comprehensive in scope and can efficiently capture the satisfaction level at each step of the customer journey.

In this context, relationship NPS surveys are also worth mentioning, which are sent at regular intervals throughout a customer’s lifecycle (such as quarterly or annually) to track changes in customer satisfaction over time. That is specifically relevant for subscription-based companies surveying their customers every six months or big-ticket-item ecommerce businesses that inquire about their experience with the product 3 months after the purchase.


Product reviews can significantly affect a company’s sales, visibility, and reputation, as potential customers often rely on them when making purchasing decisions. Reading reviews is already a must for 95% of consumers before purchasing, while 67% require a high volume of reviews to trust high ratings. 

Yet, NPS surveys impact customer experience and the ability to identify and retain its most valuable clients. They are specifically designed to measure various areas of customer satisfaction and capture actionable insights for the brand to improve. Product reviews are often more general, providing feedback on a product but not necessarily leading to specific steps for the company. 

Data Use & Accessibility

Product reviews can be used for both internal (product development) and external purposes (marketing), with the latter as a priority. Posted publicly online, they allow other consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. Online retailers, social media platforms, and review websites have made it easy for customers to find and read reviews from various sources. Additionally, the mobile revolution has enabled potential buyers to access product reviews on the go. 

Contrariwise, NPS surveys are usually employed for internal purposes, such as measuring customer loyalty, inquiring about satisfaction following specific interactions, identifying areas for improvement, and tracking changes in customer satisfaction over time. NPS surveys are thus mostly kept private, and only shared within the company with management and the customer experience & marketing teams for analysis.

Marketing Opportunities

The main advantage of product reviews, making them so popular for ecommerce businesses, is that they serve as a form of social proof in marketing materials. Brands showcase positive feedback on their website or social media accounts. This way, they build credibility with potential customers since they can see what others have said about the product before purchasing. Overall, incorporating product reviews into a website’s content strategy can be a great way to drive traffic, increase conversions, and boost sales. 

On the contrary, NPS survey results are not usually utilized for marketing purposes; however, the metric makes it simple to target Promoters and encourage them to share opinions online. Moreover, a high NPS score speaks of amazing customer experiences. Many brands display positive results on their website to show commitment to customer needs and, as a result, foster trust.


Product reviews may seem more cost-effective to collect due to the availability of third-party review platforms (e.g., Google Reviews or Yelp), which do not require additional resources or costs. However, this might not be the case if brands are the ones initiating the process, meaning they would need someone in the team to collect and manually analyze data or opt for an automation tool for the purpose. In this respect, brands can collect product reviews through email campaigns sent a few days after the purchase, via platforms such as Yotpo, Okendo, and Junip, or by incentivizing customer testimonials. 

As in the case of product reviews, NPS surveys may require additional resources, such as dedicated survey software and an analyst, to run the surveys and analyze the feedback. However, being a simple, straightforward, and easy-to-implement metric, Net Promoter Score does not require extensive investments, which is essential for DTC businesses. Using a platform like Retently, ecommerce businesses can trigger post-purchase NPS surveys by various survey channels such as email, store web pop-ups, or SMS and reach customers where they are most likely to engage with the survey. 

Key Differences of Product Reviews and NPS Surveys
Key Differences of Product Reviews and NPS Surveys

How NPS Complements the Idea of Customer Feedback in DTC

The concept of customer feedback has always been a crucial component of successful business operations. DTC brands, in particular, have leveraged its power to build a loyal audience and create more personal connections with consumers. However, traditional methods of collecting customer feedback, such as product reviews, can’t provide a complete picture. That’s where Net Promoter Score comes in as a complementary tool. NPS offers valuable insights into customer sentiment and helps brands understand the impact of their efforts on customer loyalty. 

So, let’s explore how NPS complements the idea of customer feedback in DTC and how it can generate relevant intelligence into customer behavior, preferences, and opinions.

A Measure of Customer Loyalty

NPS surveys are intended to measure customer loyalty and provide reliable data about customers’ likelihood to recommend the business to others. Customer loyalty is a valid pointer to customer retention and repeat business, which is essential for brands depending on repeat customers for revenue. That makes the NPS survey a tool with strong predictive potential.

Based on the collected NPS scores, customers are grouped into three categories: 

  • Promoters (9 to 10): Highly satisfied customers likely to recommend your brand to others and make repeat purchases. Naturally, you would want the number of Promoters to be as high as possible since it will indicate that your product struck a chord.
  • Passives (7 to 8): While satisfied with the product to some extent, Passives may be less likely to make repeat purchases and will switch to a competitor if a better option becomes available.
  • Detractors (0 to 6): These are unsatisfied customers who are likely to be disloyal and provide negative word-of-mouth recommendations.

Ecommerce companies can thus use NPS data to identify Promoters and maximize their value, nurturing customers for life. NPS surveys can also easily flag at-risk customers, so they can proactively act and retain them for longer. While product reviews focus primarily on collecting feedback for social proof, NPS is an actionable metric directed toward finding the strengths to build on and spotting the flaws to improve – all for delivering the best customer experience and fostering loyalty. 

Targeted Feedback

Product reviews represent general feedback on a product, while NPS surveys are specifically designed to provide actionable insights to improve. They can include personalized questions and follow-up actions based on the customer’s specific experience or feedback (for example, depending on what product one buys or if they are new/return customers). NPS value goes beyond the regular 0-10 rating question, hence adopting a full-funnel NPS approach is the way to go. 

Many brands find NPS valuable because it gives critical information on the entirety of the buyer’s journey from purchase to fulfillment. The questions to ask aren’t all based on product quality but are more related to the shopping and customer experience of the brand. The brand has complete control over the survey, building it in a way that would best surface the topics of interest. The customization capabilities also allow for setting up the ground for a sustainable relationship rather than a transaction-based encounter, helping to improve the company’s overall relationship with its consumers.

Easy Data Analysis

NPS surveys have a standardized format offering a consistent and reliable way to gather and interpret customer feedback. It consists of a simple question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” which is easy to understand and respond to, making it a convenient way to collect actionable data. 

Ecommerce businesses can compare NPS scores with industry standards and contrast data between departments or across different customer segments. Hence, brands can easily visualize and benchmark performance against competitors, track the progress of specific support agents effectively, or compare results at re-order, allowing for data-driven improvements.

NPS surveys are also highly efficient in tracking customer satisfaction over time. For example, by regularly surveying subscription customers (every 6 months), brands can capture shifts in the overall sentiment toward their business. By gaining valuable insights into their customers’ evolving needs and preferences, companies can easily adapt to changes and make the necessary adjustments. DTCs can also analyze if improvement efforts are paying off, informing future decisions. Moreover, long-term tracking establishes a baseline for customer satisfaction, giving brands an accurate understanding of how well they serve consumers. This insight is key to boosting retention and driving repeat business.

Effortless Segmentation

By collecting customer feedback and categorizing them into groups, brands can gain insights into what motivates each segment and tailor products accordingly. This way, brands can provide more personalized customer experiences and improve overall satisfaction. For example, suppose you have a high NPS score among younger customers but a lower score among the senior segment. In that case, you can focus on creating products that appeal to the younger demographic while addressing any issues causing dissatisfaction among the senior buyers. Through segmentation, brands can target the right audience and make informed decisions about marketing and product development strategies.

Broader Perspective

Product reviews can be very helpful in providing detailed information about a product. However, NPS goes beyond product information to provide data on a range of other aspects of a company’s performance. Let’s go through some of these examples to see how it works.

  • Inform the CX strategy – by analyzing NPS feedback, brands can understand customer needs, spot pain points, and make informed decisions about product selection, pricing, delivery policy, or UX/UI experience. Customer satisfaction levels and feedback trends are the ones to inform the CX strategy and overall business direction, allowing ecommerce companies to be competitive in a crowded industry.
  • Understand the buyer’s journey – by figuring out the key touchpoints in the buyer’s journey and how customers feel about each, brands can make adjustments to improve the individual experiences. It can include providing additional self-service resources, updating the refund policy, or improving the check-out process. By acting on NPS data, you can ensure that every touchpoint is tailored to meet customer expectations, leading to increased customer loyalty.
  • Impact customer relationships – a high NPS score points to an increased number of happy customers likely to repurchase. On the other hand, a low NPS score speaks of prevailing unsatisfied buyers who may choose to do business with a competitor. By using NPS surveys to understand customer sentiment, follow up with at-risk customers, and drive the necessary improvements, brands can strengthen relationships and build a loyal audience.
  • Optimize marketing efforts – brands can see if campaigns resonate with their customers, drive sales, and create positive customer experiences. A high NPS score indicates that customers respond positively and are more likely to repurchase. In contrast, a low NPS score hints at a need to fine-tune marketing strategies and optimize efforts for maximum impact.

Data Cross-Referencing

NPS surveys are an effective method of measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty, but they become even more powerful when cross-referenced with other data sources. By combining NPS data with other metrics, such as CSAT and CES, demographics, purchase history/sales data, and customer service interactions, companies can gain a comprehensive understanding of their customer experience.

For example, suppose NPS data shows that customers are satisfied with a company’s products but not customer service. In that case, the brand can use cross-referenced data to uncover the issue and take steps to address it. Additionally, cross-referencing NPS with purchase history would help ecommerce businesses identify opportunities for upselling. Brands can use this information to develop targeted campaigns that increase customer engagement and boost sales.

Neutralizing Bias

Product reviews may be affected by positive or negative bias, as customers are more likely to leave a review if they are satisfied or highly disappointed with a product. Fake reviews can also get in the way and skew the overall product perception, providing an incorrect representation of customer satisfaction. In this context, NPS surveys can provide a more representative and objective view of customer satisfaction. 

The benefit of having multiple perspectives when evaluating data is that it grants a more accurate picture of customer sentiment and a more comprehensive understanding of the overall performance. When relying on one source, there is also a risk of missing important information or misinterpreting data. For example, combining data from customer surveys and product reviews allows brands quickly identify improvement areas, whether in product design, customer service, or marketing.

Best Practices for Incorporating Product Reviews and NPS Surveys

When used in conjunction, product reviews and NPS surveys can surface relevant insights into customer satisfaction and help ecommerce businesses make informed decisions about customer experience. However, it is important to follow some best practices when combining these two feedback sources to make the most of it. Here are three main tips we would like to touch upon:

1. Throttle and Sampling

Throttling and sampling are essential considerations when harnessing product reviews and NPS surveys to gather customer feedback. Throttling controls the rate at which feedback is collected, while sampling refers to selecting a representative customer segment.

By limiting the number of daily surveys and reviews, brands can avoid overwhelming the team while still capturing enough data to drive improvements. Furthermore, throttling can make sure that the customer experience remains positive. Brands can thus prevent consumer frustrations caused by flooding survey or review requests, and keep the feedback collection process engaging.

With a representative customer sample, ecommerce companies can ensure a more accurate picture of customer experiences and drive meaningful improvements. A suitable sampling method can, as a result, increase data validity by eliminating potential biases. 

Still, throttling and sampling methods will depend on the specific goals of the company. For example, a brand that wants to gather more in-depth feedback on a particular product or stage in the buyer’s journey may need to collect feedback more frequently than a business that simply wants to gauge overall customer satisfaction every once in a while.

2. Timing

Ideally, ecommerce businesses should aim to trigger product review requests and NPS surveys at different stages in the buyer’s journey. For example, they can collect reviews after a consumer used a specific product, and send NPS surveys to inquire about the delivery process (right after the product was delivered),  the check-out process (after the order was placed), or at regular intervals to monitor overall sentiment. Additionally, it’s essential to consider the type of surveyed customer, as feedback from repeat customers may weigh more than that from new customers.

A popular scenario among ecommerce brands is sending a product review request two days after delivery and NPS surveys in 10 or 14 days. While the first aims to find out more about the quality of the product, the NPS survey looks into the overall shopping experience and satisfaction with the brand.

Incorporating product reviews and NPS surveys into a comprehensive customer feedback strategy can enable brands to gain a deeper understanding of their consumers and encourage informed decisions that drive business success. We recommend adopting a 50%-50% approach when implementing the two methods jointly, meaning send product review requests to half of your audience and NPS surveys to the rest, to avoid messaging fatigue.

3. Closing the Feedback Loop

Closing the feedback loop is critical to driving CX improvements. It involves not only collecting feedback but also analyzing it, taking action based on the data, and communicating results to customers.

One of the key benefits of closing the feedback loop is that it helps build trust. Consumers are more likely to feel valued and appreciated if companies actively listen to and act on their feedback. That, in turn, builds brand loyalty and increases customer satisfaction.

Additionally, closing the feedback loop surfaces areas for improvement in the customer experience. By analyzing the received feedback, companies can spot common topics, patterns, trends and use this information to make changes that will positively impact CX and, as a result, drive growth.

Another essential aspect is sharing feedback with relevant departments and stakeholders. By doing so, brands can ensure that the feedback is acted upon and improvements are effectively implemented.

Final Thoughts: A Recap

Product reviews and NPS surveys are irreplaceable tools for collecting insightful customer feedback. But while providing complementary information, they also have their unique strengths, meaning brands should consider their specific goals when deciding which method to use. 

By understanding the strengths and limitations of each type of feedback, ecommerce businesses can make the most of both to improve the overall customer experience. Combining these two sources can help DTCs gain a more well-rounded understanding of their customer’s needs and help brands target their efforts more effectively.

Take control of your customer experience! Retently provides a simple yet effective way to gather and analyze customer feedback. With its user-friendly interface and advanced analytics capabilities, you can easily measure customer satisfaction, identify areas for improvement, and track progress over time. Sign up for a free trial to see the difference it can make for your brand.

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