How B2B Organizations Can Use Net Promoter Score (NPS) More Effectively

November 20, 2019

Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is used to measure customer loyalty. For this reason, NPS is a commonly used metric in various market research surveys for business-to-business (B2B) organizations. It is calculated by asking respondents one simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?”


The respondent then selects a number on a scale from 0 to 10. Based on the selected value, customers can be placed into one of three categories: promoters, passives, or detractors.


  • Promoters. Those who select either a 9 or 10. They are loyal to your company and will commonly recommend your products or services to others, helping to grow your business.

  • Passives. Those who selected either a 7 or 8. They are satisfied, but not a loyal customer yet. This group might consider using your competition.

  • Detractors. Those who selected anywhere from a 0 to a 6. They are unhappy with your company and may spread negative messages about your brand.  


Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters will calculate your company’s NPS rating. But, once your NPS is calculated, it’s easy to be stuck and wonder “Now what?” or, “How does my score compare to other B2B organizations in my industry?”


While reading a Quirk’s article by Alan Hale, 20 steps to make Net Promoter Score more actionable for B2B, the Drive Research team reflected on how we too can make NPS more actionable for our clients. We don’t just want to tell our clients what their NPS is, we want them to be able to make effective changes and see a positive ROI. 


In this blog post, Drive Research, a full-service market research firm,  will discuss and reflect on the 20 steps written by Hale in this article. 


It is important for B2B organizations to not only know what their Net Promoter Score (NPS) rating is, but how they can use it to make critical changes in order to see a positive ROI. Here are 20 ways a B2B business can use their NPS more effectively.


1. Gain support from the entire team
In order for market research to be successful, the entire team needs to be on the same page. Commitment to implement the data-based solutions is essential from everyone in the company; from the sales team all the way up to senior-level management.


Every B2B organization should share a common goal of bettering their business practices for their customers. Being on the same page with how we can improve our NPS will help businesses achieve this goal. 


2. Work with a third-party to remain unbiased 
It is important to remain unbiased throughout the research - which isn’t as easy as some businesses might think. Bringing in a third-party market research firm, such as Drive Research, really helps to identify weaknesses and make important changes.


In addition, the data will be more credible and reliable if your company would like to reference their NPS rating in marketing efforts such as blog posts, website copy, competitor cards, or press releases. 


There are many dangers that come along with conducting in-house market research. Third-party firms have the time, resources, and experience necessary to get the actionable answers you need, allowing your research to reach the next level. 


3. Identify big-spenders with customer loyalty 
What would happen to your business if two or three of your largest accounts decided to take its business to a competitor? Do not underestimate the power of brand loyalty. Large accounts with loyalty have tremendous value. It is important to understand how to keep these big-spending customers happy, which is where NPS comes into play.


Your B2B organization will be able to understand exactly how to make or keep these important clients satisfied and continue to give you their business.


4. Randomly select a mix of respondents 
Your survey should be representative of your target audience as a whole, which is why it is important to randomly select respondents from each account. It is important to collect opinions from different sectors throughout the company, not just the decision-makers. 


Survey the everyday users, marketing departments, managers, and purchasers. Identify respondents that will give your company a complete look into the opinions of those who interact with your products or services. 


5. Follow-up NPS with an open-ended question
There are a number of factors customers consider when answering, “Would you recommend X company?” Knowing where your company stacks up in the mind’s of customers by calculating your NPS is important, but it is also essential to understand exactly what factors cause your customers to be promoters, passives, or detractors. 


The solution? Simply ask the survey respondents why they chose the NPS rating that they did. By understanding the influential factors of your NPS and developing data-based solutions, your company can effectively decrease the number of detractors and increase the number of promoters. 

6. Identify your role in the B2B relationship
It’s important to establish what kind of relationships’ your company has with its customers. Since NPS measures brand loyalty, these relationships can easily be identified. 


Promoters are loyal and may even consider your company a partner. Meanwhile, passives and detractors are vulnerable to your competition and may see your business simply as a supplier. Detractors may even go out of their way to spread negative feedback about your company, such as leaving a one-star rating or sharing negative comments, which might deter new and current business. 


Learn more about how online reputation management can help your B2B organization reduce the number of poor reviews and increase the amount of positive reviews


7. Ask for recommendations
Those who purchase your company’s products or services may have incredible ideas about how your offerings can improve. If customers want or need changes from your business, it’s important to understand what those things might be before they take their money elsewhere. 


Whether it’s better customer service, a change to the product, or communication preferences, asking for recommendations can be beneficial in increasing the overall Net Promoter Score for your B2B organization. 


8. Determine what is important to the customer 
By asking the customer to expand upon what’s important to them, your company will be able to understand where it should focus it’s time, money, and resources. Also, knowing impactful factors can be used in many aspects of your marketing efforts. What is important to your current customers is likely important to others in your target market.


9. Have the customer rate the competition 
In addition to asking customers to rate your performance, inquiring about your competitors’ NPS can give your B2B company a competitive edge. Not only will you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your company, but you’ll be able to capitalize on your competitors’ advantages and disadvantages. 


Plus, throwing some competitors into a survey can minimize bias by not telling the respondent what company is conducting the market research. 


10. Transcribe and apply sentiment to interviews    
While the interview is still fresh in the interviewer’s mind, it is important to complete a transcript of the conversation. Three different levels, positive, neutral, and negative, can color code the sentiment, giving your company in-depth insights.


11. Conduct internal research to determine alignment 
It’s really easy to say, “We knew that” when going over the final data or when reviewing  a market research report. However, it’s important to conduct a modified internal survey to determine how aligned the internal and external opinions are. Do your customers and your employees share similar opinions of the organization? Or, are they completely different?


It is necessary to create an aligned business and marketing strategy to be able to showcase the value of your brand that is most common across all audiences.  Plus, conducting internal research can uncover new ideas and solutions to problems. 


12. The entire company should be made aware of findings and solutions 
The results of the research are not just for management. Each employee should be aware of the findings, from the sales team, to the marketing department, human resources, and beyond. If the entire company is made aware of the data, they’ll be able to see why the presented changes are important and ensure the solutions are seen through. 


13. Implement suggested solutions and strategies slowly
Introduce changes slowly in order to follow through with the solutions and ensure their success. When many changes are introduced at once, the team may become overwhelmed and the solutions will fail miserably. 


Implementing changes slowly will also allow your company to track more direct impact from individual changes, rather than making many changes at once.