Go beyond the score and get context for your critical customer feedback.

Love it or hate it, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an undeniable force within the realm of customer experience metrics.

Yet, whether or not to adopt NPS as a metric for success continues to be highly debated:

  • Renowned UX leader Jared Spool came out as a detractor of the score, calling it "harmful;"
  • Bruce Temkin of Experience Matters, Temkin Group (later acquired by Qualtrics), has suggested that organizations choosing to implement NPS should pay close attention to the process around the metric; and
  • Others argue that when any survey—no matter how well designed—interrupts a customer, that survey could actively harm the very experience it's trying to measure (See also the “Hawthorne Effect”).

Regardless of your stance, thriving businesses have seen NPS score surveys work as reliable levers to gather customer feedback and incentivize referrals. And the data supplied to companies by customers through NPS surveys can be leveraged for good—even if the surveys are sometimes clunky.  

In this post we examine NPS as well as how and why you might use two-step NPS surveys. For FullStory customers already using NPS surveys (or any customer-facing survey, for that matter!), this post will give you tactical ideas for connecting the dots between what customers say and what they need—all so you can make meaningful changes to your product and improve the customer experience.

How Likely Are You to Recommend This NPS Survey to a Friend?

On the surface, the NPS survey is straightforward. Pick a number 1 through 10 to indicate the likelihood you’d recommend a product to someone in your life. But if you're trying to deeply understand your digital customer experience, an NPS survey might be asking the wrong question.

Example of an NPS survey with colors indicating Detractors (red) vs. Promoters (green).


Consider this: what if I absolutely love your product but I don't want to recommend it to a friend?

Let's look at a completely hypothetical scenario.

Imagine your company sells absolutely magical antiperspirant that smells lovely, prevents stains, is made from feel-good ingredients that won't trigger allergic reactions, comes in compostable packaging, and can stand up against the grueling heat of Atlanta, Georgia for more than 8 hours. I might be extremely satisfied with this product, your brand, your customer service, or all of the above.

But, how likely am I to recommend your product to a friend? On a scale of 1-10?

Frankly? Zero.

Because antiperspirant is embarrassing! After all, I don't sweat; I "glisten." And I don't necessarily spend my free time recommending hygiene products to anyone—let alone my cherished friends who would be perplexed and possibly even offended if I slid into their DMs with links to personal hygiene products.

According to NPS, I could easily be identified in the “Detractor” category (0-6) simply because I'm not comfortable talking up the product, regardless of whether or not the product solves my problem in a delightful way.

Do You Measure What Matters?

NPS measures how likely a customer is to hype your product. It gives you some signal for how much word-of-mouth should play into your go-to-market strategy. NPS doesn't tell you anything directly about a customer's experience, satisfaction, or likelihood to make a repeat purchase in the future.

At Gainsight's 2019 Pulse Conference, I enjoyed a poignant moment from Corey Thomas of Rapid7. Corey said, "There's a difference between customers spending money with you, customers recommending you, and customers thriving."

"There's a difference between customers spending money with you, customers recommending you, and customers thriving."  —Corey Thomas

Thriving requires delivering and sustaining an exceptional customer experience. So how do you gather data around “thriving?” Consider adding a comment field to your NPS survey. Hearing feedback directly from the horse’s mouth (though we would never refer to your customers as horses) can lend some much-needed color to their number selections.

Here’s how that might look:

Here's an example of a two-step NPS survey with a comment field for explaining the score.

The score itself might be most related to the recommendation engine, but the qualitative feedback you gather from customer comments can offer clues into your product and a holistic perspective on your digital customer experience.

Now if you only had a way to follow those clues ...

Survey Signals Meet Digital Experience Data

So you have an NPS survey, and the comments are coming through. How do you measure the results and transform them into action items that will improve your customer satisfaction and retention?

You could simply review the scores and the comments and stop ... except you'd be missing out on a boatload of additional context—context that could help you transform anecdotal feedback into quantitative learnings. For that, you need a customer experience platform like FullStory. A customer experience platform can give you the opportunity to:

  1. Get the qualitative context around interesting customer comments—whether good or bad, and
  2. Quantify impact regarding how specific changes affect your bottom line.

Here’s how to get started.

1. Get the Qualitative Context for Your NPS Feedback

With a comments fields on your survey, you now have a dump of raw, text-based, qualitative feedback from your customers.

For example, one of the NPS survey forms could come back with a message along the lines of:

"I love buying from your brand but your search is the worst."

What do you do with that information? How is search “the worst?”

One option would be to contact that customer with a request for additional details, perhaps even scheduling a phone call to discuss. It can be a nice gesture that makes your customer feel heard—but it can just as easily be bothering a customer who expected their survey to evaporate into the ether, ne’er to receive a response.

Instead of (or in addition to) making direct contact, you can use FullStory to search for recent sessions where this customer interacted with the search functionality. Here’s what that search in FullStory might look like:

Combine user filters (email address) and event filters (clicked the search button) to find sessions.

Once you narrow down sessions to those related to the customer who submitted the feedback and the area of the site or app they mentioned, you can replay related sessions and look for any open issues.

With this added context, you can make an educated guess as to what caused the complaint—e.g. maybe it was search not yielding the right results—or perhaps general janky-ness with the search usability.

Going from feedback to FullStory gives you that much-needed context—the kind you need to make sense of an otherwise alarming-but-ambiguous comment from the NPS survey.

2. Quantify Opportunities for Enhancements & Improvements

After you've had a chance to investigate issues that came up in your NPS survey results, the next step is to quantify them so you can prioritize fixes and enhancements.

Continuing our example from above, the next question to ask is: How many customers experienced a similar problem with search? E.g. if an error was returned—or if users performed multiple searches back-to-back, indicating they were struggling to find an answer.

Here, again, turn to FullStory. Returning to your query in FullStory, X out the User Filter so that your search includes all users who interacted with a particular page or element. These "zoomed-out" results will give you the big picture regarding the impact and scale of specific issues.

Armed with both your NPS survey data and your FullStory digital customer experience data, you now have a compelling insight. E.g.:

"In our most recent NPS survey, only 6 out of 1,000 respondents mentioned issues with search functionality in their comments. However, when we looked at the digital experience data, we saw that over 1,500 customers interacted with an error message in the search UI. Taking a development cycle to triage open bugs with search are likely to improve CX for 1,500 customers in the next quarter—and boost our NPS results."

Turn Your NPS Survey Results into Action Items

If you're going to run an NPS survey, you can get a lot more insight from asking for feedback—but you can get even more insight if you have the right digital experience platform.

For FullStory users, transform the anecdotal insights you get from NPS into quantifiable improvements—the kind that drive customers to spend money with you, recommend you to their friends, and above all, thrive.


Don’t have FullStory yet? Get ready to uncover opportunities, help customers thrive, and nudge that NPS up a little higher: Start a trial of FullStory today.