Net Promoter Score: How to Calculate NPS

What is Net Promoter Score?

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the standard for measuring customer loyalty. This is gauged by their likelihood to recommend your product, service or brand to a friend or colleague.

It is the correlation between a customer’s advocacy (i.e., positive word of mouth) and revenue growth that has made NPS a key metric in driving business development.

What question do you ask to determine NPS?

To measure customer loyalty, you need to ask one simple question:

On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product to a friend or colleague?

0 would be labelled with ‘Not at All Likely’ and 10 with ‘Extremely Likely’.

Your NPS question does not have to ask for a recommendation of a product, it can concern any aspect of your business. E.g., services, brand, websites, events or customer service.

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NPS scale

The Net Promoter Score scale usually consists of 11 response options; from 0 – 10.

Fred Reichheld, who developed the NPS system, thought it necessary to have 11 points in the scale so respondents would not mistake 1 as the highest point.

However, some businesses also use 10 point and 5-point scales to determine their score. A study from MeasuringU on changing NPS scales found that:

  • Scores from the same respondent varied across different scales (although only a little)
  • 10 point scales reduced the number of detractors, increasing overall score
  • 5 point scales reduced both detractors and promoters
  • Not using an 11 point scale risks losing external benchmarks, as it’s the industry standard.

The biggest take away from the study was to remain consistent with the number of points in your scale. I.e., don’t use a scale of 0 – 11 for one survey and then a 5-point scale for another.

This will result in discrepancies between data sets, meaning they will be incomparable.

How is NPS calculated?

NPS ratings are split into three categories: Promoters, Passives and Detractors. The ratings associated with each category are based on the standard 11 point scale.

Before calculating your score, you must determine the percentage of customers for each category.

Detractors (those who select 0 – 6)

Detractors are unhappy customers who’ve had a bad experience with your organization at a touch-point. They’re the most likely to jump to a competitor or even impact your reputation through negative word of mouth.

Passives (those who select 7 – 8)

Passive customers are somewhat happy with your business but are not likely to recommend you to others. You shouldn’t be complacent with passives, they’re also likely to defer to a competitor if left unchecked.

Promoters (those who select 9 – 10)

These are the people most satisfied with your product or service. These are advocates for your organization, actively recommending you to friends and colleagues.

Net promoter score calculation

To calculate your net promoter score, subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. The number you’re left with is your NPS, it’s as simple as that.

The final score is not expressed as a percentage, but as a number between -100 and +100.

You can test this out for yourself with our Net Promoter Score calculator.

What is a good Net Promoter Score?

Any score above 0 is good, whilst any NPS score over +50 is excellent. Organizations that score over the +70 mark will be providing the best customer experience.

Customer loyalty is inherently linked to their experience with your business, products or services. So, it’s well worth strategizing ways to improve customer experiences.

Benefits of Net Promoter Score

1. It can be calculated with a single data point

Calculating this only requires a single question. Saving time for survey respondents (reducing the chance of survey fatigue) and for those performing the NPS data analysis.

2. Your score is a sign of business growth

If your customers are referring your product/service to friends and colleagues, they have entered the final stage of the customer journey; advocacy.

3. Conducting an NPS survey is effortless

With a host of online tools available to create, distribute and analyze NPS research, it’s never been easier to measure customer loyalty.

As long as the question is standardized for your organization, it can be used across all contact points. For example, at an event, as part of a website feedback form or following a recent purchase.

4. NPS is malleable

You can calculate an NPS rating for any of your organization’s output. Whether it’s your overall brand, a product or customer service. In this way, you can determine which aspects of your business need the most attention and where you’re already doing well.

5. Measure change over time

Conducting NPS research at regular intervals is paramount to improving customer relationships. It’s suggested you calculate your score around twice a year, to measure the impact of changes you make and identify seasonal discrepancies.

6. Benchmark against competitors

Average NPS scores vary from industry to industry. Performing some research into the average score for your industry can provide valuable context to your score. HubSpot has accumulated a list of NPS Benchmarks by industry.

Disadvantages of Net Promoter Score

1. A single data source can be limiting

Without open-ended feedback to provide context, NPS scores can often be ambiguous. Because of this, it’s difficult to identify which area of your organization needs improving and where you’re already succeeding.

2. You need a large survey sample

The opinions of a few customers aren’t representative of the whole. Which segment of your audience, or what aspect of your business, your NPS survey concerns, can also affect what your score will be.

For example, if you calculate NPS for a product that’s doing well, your score will likely be high. But you can’t generalize these results, as they aren’t representative of customers who’re unhappy with other elements of your business.

3. Results don’t always lead to instant action

As mentioned above, collecting data from such a large audience can take time. So, those who’re unhappy with their experiences aren’t likely to see positive action quickly.

However, opening a line of communication with these customers can go a long way in maintaining relationships.

Simply let them know you’ve listened and give them regular updates on what action you plan to take and when.

4. NPS ratings don’t account for the influence of individuals

If a well-known CEO or celebrity is a detractor, they’ll influence the decisions of other customers.

5. Solicited feedback may create response bias

The time and manner of feedback requests may influence the way people respond. The best feedback is unsolicited, as it’ll likely be devoid of any bias created by the researchers. Learn more about response bias.

6. NPS score can be manipulated

Whether it is intentional or not, employees may only send NPS surveys to happy customers. This would lead to an artificially high NPS score.

Tips for improving NPS

1. Personalize NPS surveys

Improving customer relationships is the end goal of NPS. Addressing them by name will strengthen your relationship and encourage unbiased feedback.

2. Collect reviews regularly

Your score is not a one-off calculation, it’s a benchmark for development. Make a habit of collecting NPS at customer touchpoints or through email campaigns.

3. Ask for open-ended customer feedback

By asking for additional comments, you’ll gain more insight into your strengths and weaknesses as an organization. However, don’t overload customers with open text boxes. That beauty of NPS is its usability and efficiency.

4. Open a dialogue

At the end of your survey, create a contact field for those customers who wish for you to contact them regarding their response. This creates another opportunity for relationship management and insight.

For a full perspective on your customer relationships, couple NPS with other forms of market and customer research. E.g. Customer Satisfaction Surveys (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES).

This isn’t to say that conducting NPS isn’t a worthwhile pursuit. It is essential to identify those in the final stage of the customer buying journey (advocacy). But in compiling data from multiple feedback sources, you give more context to your NPS score.