Are promoter scores the only research you need?

Well are they? I mean, really, you are only asking your customer one question – how likely are you to recommend my company/services to a friend or colleague? It is a relatively straightforward yet direct question that asks respondents to indicate their assumed potential actions.

One shortfall is it does not necessarily indicate if they have, or will promote your brand in the future.

Promoter research does provide you with interesting insight into your customer base – what would your customers do if given the opportunity to be your brand ambassador? But also thinking as a marketer, what are your next steps when your boss or CEO happens upon your score and demands you move it higher?

As a researcher my main issue with a promoter score is the single dimension it measures – while I admit it is a great metric, it is only one part of a continuous feedback strategy you can implement within your company to strengthen your overall market intelligence. Simply put, your score alone cannot tell you why someone is detracting from your brand!
Moving back to your panic stricken CEO – convinced the score indicates that every one of your customers is out telling the world with his pocket megaphone how horrible your product is. Wouldn’t it be beneficial to show him additional research that expands upon the score? That helps calm his nerves before he goes out searching for an off the shelf solution that sucks valuable resources out of your already strapped marketing budget? Of course!!

Here are a few ideas

  1. Conduct your own annual, quarterly, or monthly promoter survey that dives into more than just “will you promote my brand” but also asks questions like “what would you say?”, “how often would you say it?” and “why would you say that?”. Be sure you are making attempts to reduce opt-in bias in this survey as well. Don’t just email it out, but instead conduct a telephone or intercept survey to ensure your data is accurate, actionable, and stands up to the utmost scrutiny (especially important if it provides different results from your net promoter score).
  2. Develop a customer satisfaction campaign that focuses on post delivery satisfaction; engage your customers and create a culture of continued feedback via social media, or survey responses. This strategy is great for opt-in methods.  Mail, email, and social media all introduce their own sample bias, but also provide you with very timely results as you are getting feedback from customers as soon as they receive or evaluate your product. The accuracy shortfalls inherent in opt-in samples is often counter balanced by gains in timeliness and lower overall project costs.
  3. Work closely with your sales team and track sales metrics – use sales over time metrics and compare your company’s successes over similar years or similar months to identify dips that may be attributed to lower customer satisfaction, rather than simple economic changes.
  4. And, less scientifically, keep your ear to the ground and walk the customer service floor! Learn first hand from the front lines about how satisfied your customers really are.

Promoter scores and surveys are great metrics which are super easy to implement within a limited budget but they need to be coupled with additional research tools and marketing campaigns to ensure you are acting on reliable and thorough data and building your customer satisfaction story appropriately for your future campaigns.