With online retailers growing four times faster than traditional bricks and mortar outlets, competition is rife between brands in the digital space. And in businesses such as ours, the customer experience can quite often be a ‘virtual’ one, potentially making customer loyalty even more challenging.

There are so many different ways to measure customer loyalty and seek feedback, it’s almost too hard to know where to begin, and all too easy to get lost in the detail. But at the heart of any good retail operation, online or offline, there is one concept that remains the most accurate indicator of customer loyalty – the likelihood of your customers recommending you to others. It’s also a very strong indicator for your businesses future growth.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a tool fully embraced by some businesses, yet to others still remains a completely foreign term. We recently started measuring our NPS at Edible Blooms, and the value we are getting out of it is just incredible. If you’re not using this concept in your business, I urge you to seriously consider it.

I’ve outlined some tips below that might help you get started, or perhaps make a few refinements if you already have it in place:

1. It’s a simple concept – so keep it simple!

All you need to do is ask your customers to rate out of 10 how likely they would be to recommend you, and let them provide additional feedback if they’d like to. If they score 1-6 they’re deemed as a ‘detractor’ of your brand, 7-8 a ‘passive’, and 9-10 a ‘promoter’.

How many customer surveys do you get sent asking for feedback? Does your likelihood to respond increase the shorter they are? I know mine does. Don’t be greedy wanting to know every intimate detail of their experience, if it reduces the number of respondents your data becomes less accurate anyway.

So keep it simple – it makes it easier to implement, and might even be the difference between implementation or being in the ‘too hard basket’, and it also makes your data more accurate by hearing from more of your customers, because you do want to hear from them – all of them.

2. Timing is everything…

Make sure you ask the ‘big question’ at exactly the right moment, whenever that may be for your business. You want to get a measure of their complete experience with you.

One of the most critical aspects of our customer experience is when the gift is actually delivered to the recipient, so we ask our customer (the sender) the big question two days after the gift has been delivered, and this timing is proving spot on. It allows for a very accurate NPS, and also gives us the opportunity to remedy the situation if need be in a timely manner, not two weeks later when the customer is long gone.

Our timing hasn’t always been right. Before launching NPS we did ask our customers for feedback, but it was too early, before they could really assess how we went. Since launching NPS our number of respondents has increased by more than 10 times. We still have a way to go before we get 100% response rate, but we’ve managed to improve this dramatically by getting the timing right. And we also feel more confident of the accuracy of our score (currently 70), knowing we’re hearing from more customers.

3. Give your detractors a voice

These are the people you want to hear from the most – it gives you the opportunity to make things right. And to do this you need to find out what went wrong. Build an extra space in your NPS form for comments, and give them a phone call if need be – that personal connection not only helps you get to the bottom of what really went wrong, it also increases your chances of turning them round!

We had a detractor last week we called within 10 minutes of them hitting the ‘submit’ button on their NPS survey. She was completely blown away by our responsiveness. She actually re-submitted her NPS survey, and this time completed it as a promoter. Just giving them a voice – sometimes that’s all it takes.

4. Use it to initiate change

A measure is only as good as what you do with it. And with NPS this couldn’t be truer – if you do nothing with the valuable feedback and insight generated through this tool, then you’ve missed the point.

Make sure you have a process improvement system in place to initiate change and prevent other customers experiencing what a detractor has already warned you about. On a positive note some great customer insight comes from promoters, make sure you do something with this as well, leverage from it.

5. Resource accordingly

Make sure you have an owner of your NPS in the business, a person or a team who are responsible for reporting on your NPS, and more importantly reviewing and actioning the results that come through. Whether it be contacting customers in a timely manner or managing the process improvement process, these are both key aspects of NPS that need to be appropriately resourced for.

Our relationship manager owns this process for us. Customers requiring a call are contacted within 24 hours, and process improvement is actioned almost straight away. The value we’re getting out of our NPS is testament to the priority she gives it.

6. Good or bad – use it as a motivator!

One of the most powerful ways to deliver a message is with an example of a customer’s experience with you – whether you’ve made their day… or ruined it. (Hopefully not the later on too many occasions!)

Use examples generated through your NPS to motivate your staff. Whether they be used in staff training or to make the team feel good about the amazing customer experience they deserve a pat on the back for.

7. Your goal – convert that detractor into a promoter

It’s certainly possible – some of our best advocates are customers who had a poor experience initially.

How do you do this? Contact them in a timely manner, listen to them, then do all you can to make things right and encourage them to return so they can put you to the test on their next experience with you.

8. Embed NPS into your organisation

To get the most out of NPS, it needs to be embraced by everyone in your organisation to some extent, obviously some more than others, but everyone needs to be across it and supportive of it.

Make it your number one measure. It should be right up there with sales performance, or even above it… you won’t regret it.


Alex Andre
BY Alex Andre ON 18 August 2012
Marketing director, Edible Blooms Group
  • I saw a presentation last week from a business that has used NPS for over four years and the correlation between retention and NPS was staggering – as was how they used NPS to focus on improving the customer experiences. It can be a really effective tool if used simply and over time. Yes there are more complex methods and there is an argument on whether it is a lag or leading indicator but regardless if used as Alex outlines it can have a big impact on your business.