While many people think of Net Promoter Score® surveys as revolving around a simple zero to 10 rating scale, the reality is that there are two sides to NPS® — the quantitative (the rating) and the qualitative side (the feedback).
Just like few things are more frustrating for the average person than sending an email without getting a response, few things are as discouraging for a customer satisfaction expert as sending a Net Promoter Score survey and receiving a score without any qualitative feedback.
Qualitative feedback, or text feedback, is part of what makes NPS such an effective strategy for measuring customer satisfaction. It provides an extra layer of insight for your business, allowing you to act on a customer’s feedback rather than simply learning their opinion.
Despite this, it’s missing from the vast majority of NPS survey data, meaning many businesses are using NPS suboptimally. While an effective NPS survey can get a 40 to 60% response rate, many of these responses are purely quantitative and lack any useful user feedback.
Sounds familiar? If you’re one of the many people using NPS software like Retently to learn more about customer sentiment, there are a variety of reasons why you may not be receiving as many textual responses as you’d like.
Below, we’ve listed some of these reasons, along with actionable tactics you can use to turn the situation around and increase the amount of qualitative feedback from your NPS survey recipients.
Your Customers Aren’t Used to Personalized Communication
If you don’t communicate with your customers via email very often, receiving a Net Promoter Score survey can come as a bit of a surprise.
As a result, many customers might be willing to take a minute or two to give your business or product a rating, but not to write out a message. The reason? Since you’ve rarely contacted them, there’s no human on the other side of the conversation for them to visualize.
Building a personal connection with your customers, whether over email or live chat, can go a long way towards improving not just the amount of qualitative feedback that you get from your NPS surveys, but your response rate as a whole.
To make your emails feel more personal, try including a short message with your NPS survey that explains why you’re getting in touch and how much a response would mean to you. Send the email from a real, human email address — not a generic “noreply”.
For example, would you feel motivated to spend a few minutes of your time writing a detailed response to an email without a real person’s name signed to it? Personalize your NPS survey and you’ll quickly notice an increase in the number of qualitative responses you receive.
Your Customers Feel Nervous About Providing Honest Feedback
Sometimes, your customers might be willing to provide an accurate rating of their likelihood to recommend your business to their peers using the zero to 10 scale of an NPS survey email, but not to deliver an honest feedback.
The reason? They talk to members of your business on a regular basis and don’t feel comfortable giving honest, accurate feedback if it means to potentially offend someone.
This is a common problem for small and mid-sized businesses that survey their clients using an NPS service. It’s especially common for service businesses, where a complaint made via email could be read by the person responsible for the problem it’s addressing.
There are several ways to deal with this issue. The first is to explain to customers that you value all feedback, whether positive or negative. Let them know that you’re comfortable reading direct and plain-spoken feedback, especially if it includes something you’re doing wrong.
The second is to reach out to customers over an alternative medium — a tactic we’ve explained in more detail below.
This problem is extremely common, especially in the world of B2B, where no one wants to come off as rude or mean towards an important supplier or partner. Luckily, it often solves itself as you and your customers develop a closer, more candid and transparent relationship.
Your Customers Want to Talk, But Not Via Email
This reason is shaped by the one covered above — your customers want to talk, but they might not feel comfortable providing honest feedback via email.
Sometimes, the most effective way to get honest, actionable feedback from your customers on how you can improve your product, service or business as a whole is to reach out to them the old-fashioned way: over the phone.
If you’ve received an NPS survey response from a customer who makes it clear he isn’t fully satisfied, try getting in touch with a phone call. Instead of email silence, there’s a good chance he’ll quickly tell you the reason behind his unhappiness with your product or service.
Reaching out over the phone is a particularly effective strategy for connecting with detractors in B2B industries. Often, a simple phone call is all it takes to show that you value your relationship and want to double-check that everything is okay.
After you successfully get in touch with a passive or detractor over the phone (or through any other non-email medium, like talking at a trade show or visiting their office in person), keep an eye on their next NPS survey response — it might be significantly more positive than the last.
Your Customers Are Too New to Provide Useful Feedback
Some customers might feel comfortable answering your survey, but feel they’re too “fresh” to provide useful advice to your business. This usually means you’ll get an accurate score from your NPS survey but little in the way of actionable feedback.
This happens fairly often, especially to new SaaS startups without an established base of users and paying customers. When a customer first starts using your product, their focus is often more on finding their way around and getting things set up than helping you improve.
New customers can also fail to leave feedback for the opposite reason — they signed up due to a mismatch between expectations and reality, then left once they realized your product wasn’t what they expected.
Similar to other issues, there are several ways to deal with this one as well. The first is to personalize your onboarding process (such as with a personal “welcome aboard email”) to make it clear to new customers that they’re never more than one step away from talking to actual humans.
In the age of chatbots and automated helpdesks, you’ll be surprised at how effective a simple personalized email can be.
The second is to follow up after you receive their NPS rating with an email asking for quick and simple feedback. Often, a short and amiable email from a customer success manager is all that’s needed to open and close the feedback loop with a fresh customer.
Your Customers Are Tired of Receiving NPS Emails
Finally, like all methods of communication, NPS emails can become tiresome and ineffective if you overuse them.
Some companies become slightly addicted to NPS, treating it as a metric that can never be high enough. While it’s good for any business to have a focus on continual improvement, sending out email after email isn’t the right way to do it.
Send too many NPS surveys and you’ll notice your response rate dropping, or your customers quickly giving a score without providing any feedback. The end result is less reliable data and a less effective customer satisfaction surveying process — two things you definitely don’t want.
Unfortunately, this problem is so common that we included it in our list of poor NPS practices that are best avoided. While it’s good to keep in touch with your customer and close the loop when you receive feedback, no business scores points for being a scammer.
Worried you’re making this mistake? Our guide to NPS survey timing covers the best frequency for sending out NPS survey emails in order to collect reliable, regular data without burning out your clients.
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