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NPS for Beginners

How to Choose the Best NPS Software

By Sara Gates
on 17 January 2020

Once you understand what NPS (Net Promoter Score) is, what NPS software is, and how an NPS program can fuel your growth, you need to choose the best NPS software to reach your company’s customer experience measurement goals.

Shopping around can be stressful—but think of this guide as your supportive friend, waiting patiently outside the dressing room! We’ll start with an overview of the basic types of NPS software, then take a deep dive into the different features you should keep in mind while evaluating your options.

Pros & cons for different types of NPS software

There are three categories of NPS software: home-grown, add-on modules, and specialized NPS tools.

Home-grown NPS surveys

This is the DIY, in-house option. You’ll just need a very basic email survey tool to collect customer NPS ratings, and then a spreadsheet where an employee can manually enter the results and manually analyze the data.

Pro: It’s cheap. This option will cost you the fewest dollars up-front.

Cons:

  • Response rates will likely suffer. Most CRMs and email providers can’t embed your NPS survey directly in the email—so you’ll need to ask customers to follow a link instead. That will almost certainly reduce your response rates to below 5%, leaving you with little actionable feedback and less reliable data. (For comparison, our customers’ average response rate hovers around 30%).
  • You may inadvertently create a bad experience. Without automatically triggered workflows, closing the loop by responding to customers or escalating issues will be challenging. If you don’t respond in a timely manner, you may end up negatively impacting customer experience just by asking for feedback.
  • You’ll need to invest time. Lots of time. You’ll need someone to maintain and manage your feedback program, and may need to hire a dedicated IT or CX specialist just to keep the workflow moving—likely negating any cost savings in the long run.

Bottom line: home-grown NPS is terribly inefficient. If all you need is a one-time snapshot of your company’s Net Promoter Score, you can probably get by with a survey and a spreadsheet. But if you want to capture NPS over time to evaluate your customer experience in a meaningful way, or actually use the feedback to inform your business, you’ll find that a DIY “solution” can actually create a lot of problems.

The add-on NPS survey

Some survey companies include NPS as an add-on to their core product. This means that you’re getting a whole bundle of survey capabilities, not just NPS.

Pro: It’s automated. This is a major step up from spreadsheets, as it allows you to collect NPS in a relatively hands-off way—especially if the NPS module integrates with your CRM.

Cons:

  • Response workflows may be challenging. Similar to the DIY challenge above, you need to be able to respond quickly, and at scale, to customer feedback. While add-on software may allow for automatic templated responses, you’ll still need a solution that integrates into your case management system to actually resolve customer issues.
  • Your survey channels may be limited. The best NPS software can reach your customers in multiple ways: email, SMS text, and within your own website. That mix of channels is challenging to find with traditional survey software, even if they offer an NPS add-on.
  • Feedback may not be visible. NPS is most useful for your organization when it’s easily accessible by all departments that impact customer experience—and in many companies, that’s literally all departments. Survey software is usually built for analytics or marketing groups, and doesn’t contain dashboards, mobile apps, and other tools that make NPS accessible to a large internal audience.
  • You may waste money. If you don’t want to conduct a significant amount of customer research, you’ll probably be paying for way more than what you need. (Remember, the beauty of NPS is its simplicity: just one question, that you don’t ask too often, to get consistently meaningful results.)

Bottom line: it wasn’t built for NPS. When you really want a burger, you usually don’t go to a Mexican restaurant. Sure, they can probably make you a burger. But it also probably won’t be as good as the burger joint down the street. Similarly, survey software with an NPS component is, in the end, survey software. You won’t get the same robust features as a product that was built from the ground up to help your company collect, analyze, and action NPS feedback in real-time.

Specialized NPS software

If you want to not only measure but actually improve your customer experience, choosing the best NPS software will likely mean choosing specialized NPS software. (And not just because we’re biased.)

Pro: It measures accurately and enables meaningful action.

Con: It’s not magic. You’ll still need to manually drive business decisions based on the data. (But, you’ll have great data!)

Bottom line: it will transform your business. Truly specialized NPS software was designed to collect feedback at scale, close the feedback loop with your customers, and deliver accessible, actionable insights that you can use to drive results.

The best NPS software features

Choose the best NPS software that will kick your business into high gear—and scale seamlessly to keep up with your growth. Here are some features that take NPS software from acceptable to exceptional.

Customization and segmentation

To gather the right data at the right time from the right people, you’ll need NPS software that supports extensive survey customization and audience segmentation.

NPS survey customization

Customizing your surveys keeps customers inside your brand experience. The best NPS software should allow you to upload your company’s logo, brand colors, and fonts with ease.

Your software choice should allow you to use your domain and personalize the ‘from’ name in your email or SMS sends rather than using “no-reply@brand.com” or something similar. People respond at much higher rates when an email appears to come from a real person. (We send our own NPS surveys from our CEO, first name only: “Aaron at AskNicely”.)

NPS surveys via email, web and app

Audience segmentation

The best NPS software segments your audience at three stages: before the survey, during the survey, and after the survey.

  • Before the survey, you may want to differentiate when and how you reach out to different customers to get the most accurate and relevant data. Segmentation helps trigger survey requests at specific times—literally (like time zones) and figuratively (like customer lifecycle stages).
  • During the survey, you’ll want to ask different open-ended questions based on their initial ratings. This allows you to maintain a positive experience, even while you’re talking to someone who has a negative perception of your business.
  • After the survey, you’ll have three categories of customer: promoter, passive, or detractor. Your software should allow you to store this data in your CRM, help desk, and billing and accounting systems, and trigger workflows to take the next best step, respectively. We’ll dive deeper into what those steps look like below.

Survey implementation

You’ll get the most out of your NPS software if you survey your customers regularly. But that doesn’t mean sending the same survey to every single customer at the same time—you won’t get good data that way. To get a full picture of your customer experience, you need to survey customers strategically throughout the buyer’s journey.

Transactional vs relationship surveys

NPS software should allow you to send two types of NPS surveys. Relationship surveys are time-based surveys (say, each customer receives one every six months) that establishes a general brand sentiment. Transactional surveys are sent based on “moments that matter,” such as post-activation or purchase or after a free trial. These are invaluable for gathering specific feedback on interactions with your brand, which you can then act on in real-time.

NPS scheduling logic

Multiple NPS campaigns

You’ll likely want to conduct multiple NPS campaigns at the same time, but need to avoid the very real problem of survey fatigue. Good NPS software will include complex scheduling logic that allows you to gather the feedback you need, without reaching out to individual customers too frequently.

Analytics and insights

The best NPS software will make your new data easy to understand by providing clear visuals and digestible reports. You should get a clear picture of your NPS metrics, of course, as well as how your customers are engaging with the survey itself and a nuanced understanding of your customer’s qualitative feedback.

Quantitative analysis

Specifically, look for software that provides the following quantitative metrics:

NPS survey engagement

  • Response rates
  • Engagement across each channel (open, unsubscribe, and bounce for email, response and unsubscribe for SMS text, and engagement for in-app/webpage)

NPS rating by segment

  • Customer lifecycle
  • Customer demographics (age, gender, etc.)
  • Product or business line, if relevant
  • Location or employee, if relevant

NPS executive dashboard

Qualitative feedback analysis

Your survey should deliver much more than just a number, because NPS best practices call for asking your customers a follow-up question about the primary reason for their numeric rating.

The best NPS software will analyze those open-ended comments and identify keywords, group them by theme, and pinpoint common trends across your customer segments. This is where you’ll find the transformative insights that you can focus on to improve your experience, refine your marketing messages, and refine your roadmap.

We can’t stress this point enough: if you want to use NPS to truly improve your business, do not settle for a software solution that won’t help you identify and act on qualitative customer insights.

Seamless set-up

The software that will work best for your business just works. Choose an NPS provider that will fit in seamlessly with your existing technology, workflows, and communications.

Integrations

In order to send, segment, and analyze your surveys at scale, you’ll need your NPS software to integrate smoothly with your existing tech stack. Of course, integrating with your CRM is a must, but also consider how you’ll need to leverage customer success tools (like ChurnZero or ClientSuccess), help desk software (like Zendesk or Freshdesk), and chat software (like Intercom).

If you know you’ll require a lot of customization, look for NPS software that offers APIs (Application Programming Interface), and ask in advance about custom development options.

Workflow and notifications

Pick an NPS software that allows you to create workflows, segment your responses, and allows for internal involvement across all departments. The best NPS software gives you the ability to set up notification triggers for specific events, so you can take action and provide a good experience for every customer who takes the time to share feedback.

NPS in the office

Internal visibility

If you want to build a customer-first culture, make sure your NPS software supports your goals by displaying relevant data in a convenient way.

This looks different for every company, but consider where your employees spend their time. Are they on-the-go and tied to their smartphones all day? Do they love diving into dense reports at their desks? Is there a big-screen monitor in the breakroom?

Choose software that will deliver easily digestible reporting everywhere your employees are paying attention, including aggregated scores, leaderboards, and real-time comments.

Empowering action

And, it’s all for naught if you can’t actually take action on the feedback you collect.

The best NPS software doesn’t just close the loop by thanking customers for their feedback—though the ability to instantly respond, on a mobile device, should be a requirement. Once you know which NPS category each customer falls into, you open up a whole new world of possible ‘next best steps’ that your software should facilitate:

Turn promoters into advocates

  • Request testimonials or case studies about why they love your product.
  • Ask if they’ll review your product on a third-party site like Yelp. (Make sure your NPS software supports direct links within the survey for your customers’ convenience.)
  • Invite your highest promoters to become brand ambassadors, giving them first access to new products or updates to software, inviting them to speak on webinars or in interviews, and promoting your brand on social media.
  • If you don’t get great participation on any of the above initiatives, you can offer incentives to your biggest fans. This can be as simple as a small gift card to Amazon or Starbucks, a donation to a charity in their name, or a discount or free gift with their next purchase.

Engage your passives

  • Take the time to research why a passive grades your business that way. The best NPS software will include comment analytics that help you identify specific pain points that you can focus on to yield measurable results.
  • Passives feel little or no emotional attachment to your brand because, to them, your brand is average. To a passive, everything you do is expected. So try triggering a workflow that delivers something unexpected to spark delight and joy. For example, waive a fee, surprise them with free shipping, or send a small thank you gift, just for the heck of it. (They don’t need to know it was tied to their ho-hum NPS response!) Just make sure to track your efforts so you can see if they move up to promoter status next time around.

Save (or prevent) your detractors

  • You’re at risk of losing these customers, so move fast. A detractor reply should trigger a workflow that involves proactive contact and tangible effort to improve the relationship.
  • Analyze the feedback detractors provide, and evaluate whether they should have been your customer in the first place. You may uncover valuable insights to share with your sales team about how to target the customers that will find the most value in your product.
  • When you implement the feedback you receive from dissatisfied users to improve your brand experience for others, thank the detractors and notify them of the changes. Feeling heard goes a long way in all relationships—those between a customer and a company are no exception.

NPS workflows

Find the best fit for your business

Your customers deserve the best experience, and that starts with the best NPS software. If you still have questions about what that means for your business, let’s talk. Our in-house experts have helped over a thousand companies implement a robust NPS program, and we’d love to share what we’ve learned along the way.

Book a Demo

Once you understand what NPS (Net Promoter Score) is, what NPS software is, and how an NPS program can fuel your growth, you need to choose the best NPS software to reach your company’s customer experience measurement goals.

Shopping around can be stressful—but think of this guide as your supportive friend, waiting patiently outside the dressing room! We’ll start with an overview of the basic types of NPS software, then take a deep dive into the different features you should keep in mind while evaluating your options.

Pros & cons for different types of NPS software

There are three categories of NPS software: home-grown, add-on modules, and specialized NPS tools.

Home-grown NPS surveys

This is the DIY, in-house option. You’ll just need a very basic email survey tool to collect customer NPS ratings, and then a spreadsheet where an employee can manually enter the results and manually analyze the data.

Pro: It’s cheap. This option will cost you the fewest dollars up-front.

Cons:

  • Response rates will likely suffer. Most CRMs and email providers can’t embed your NPS survey directly in the email—so you’ll need to ask customers to follow a link instead. That will almost certainly reduce your response rates to below 5%, leaving you with little actionable feedback and less reliable data. (For comparison, our customers’ average response rate hovers around 30%).
  • You may inadvertently create a bad experience. Without automatically triggered workflows, closing the loop by responding to customers or escalating issues will be challenging. If you don’t respond in a timely manner, you may end up negatively impacting customer experience just by asking for feedback.
  • You’ll need to invest time. Lots of time. You’ll need someone to maintain and manage your feedback program, and may need to hire a dedicated IT or CX specialist just to keep the workflow moving—likely negating any cost savings in the long run.

Bottom line: home-grown NPS is terribly inefficient. If all you need is a one-time snapshot of your company’s Net Promoter Score, you can probably get by with a survey and a spreadsheet. But if you want to capture NPS over time to evaluate your customer experience in a meaningful way, or actually use the feedback to inform your business, you’ll find that a DIY “solution” can actually create a lot of problems.

The add-on NPS survey

Some survey companies include NPS as an add-on to their core product. This means that you’re getting a whole bundle of survey capabilities, not just NPS.

Pro: It’s automated. This is a major step up from spreadsheets, as it allows you to collect NPS in a relatively hands-off way—especially if the NPS module integrates with your CRM.

Cons:

  • Response workflows may be challenging. Similar to the DIY challenge above, you need to be able to respond quickly, and at scale, to customer feedback. While add-on software may allow for automatic templated responses, you’ll still need a solution that integrates into your case management system to actually resolve customer issues.
  • Your survey channels may be limited. The best NPS software can reach your customers in multiple ways: email, SMS text, and within your own website. That mix of channels is challenging to find with traditional survey software, even if they offer an NPS add-on.
  • Feedback may not be visible. NPS is most useful for your organization when it’s easily accessible by all departments that impact customer experience—and in many companies, that’s literally all departments. Survey software is usually built for analytics or marketing groups, and doesn’t contain dashboards, mobile apps, and other tools that make NPS accessible to a large internal audience.
  • You may waste money. If you don’t want to conduct a significant amount of customer research, you’ll probably be paying for way more than what you need. (Remember, the beauty of NPS is its simplicity: just one question, that you don’t ask too often, to get consistently meaningful results.)

Bottom line: it wasn’t built for NPS. When you really want a burger, you usually don’t go to a Mexican restaurant. Sure, they can probably make you a burger. But it also probably won’t be as good as the burger joint down the street. Similarly, survey software with an NPS component is, in the end, survey software. You won’t get the same robust features as a product that was built from the ground up to help your company collect, analyze, and action NPS feedback in real-time.

Specialized NPS software

If you want to not only measure but actually improve your customer experience, choosing the best NPS software will likely mean choosing specialized NPS software. (And not just because we’re biased.)

Pro: It measures accurately and enables meaningful action.

Con: It’s not magic. You’ll still need to manually drive business decisions based on the data. (But, you’ll have great data!)

Bottom line: it will transform your business. Truly specialized NPS software was designed to collect feedback at scale, close the feedback loop with your customers, and deliver accessible, actionable insights that you can use to drive results.

The best NPS software features

Choose the best NPS software that will kick your business into high gear—and scale seamlessly to keep up with your growth. Here are some features that take NPS software from acceptable to exceptional.

Customization and segmentation

To gather the right data at the right time from the right people, you’ll need NPS software that supports extensive survey customization and audience segmentation.

NPS survey customization

Customizing your surveys keeps customers inside your brand experience. The best NPS software should allow you to upload your company’s logo, brand colors, and fonts with ease.

Your software choice should allow you to use your domain and personalize the ‘from’ name in your email or SMS sends rather than using “no-reply@brand.com” or something similar. People respond at much higher rates when an email appears to come from a real person. (We send our own NPS surveys from our CEO, first name only: “Aaron at AskNicely”.)

NPS surveys via email, web and app

Audience segmentation

The best NPS software segments your audience at three stages: before the survey, during the survey, and after the survey.

  • Before the survey, you may want to differentiate when and how you reach out to different customers to get the most accurate and relevant data. Segmentation helps trigger survey requests at specific times—literally (like time zones) and figuratively (like customer lifecycle stages).
  • During the survey, you’ll want to ask different open-ended questions based on their initial ratings. This allows you to maintain a positive experience, even while you’re talking to someone who has a negative perception of your business.
  • After the survey, you’ll have three categories of customer: promoter, passive, or detractor. Your software should allow you to store this data in your CRM, help desk, and billing and accounting systems, and trigger workflows to take the next best step, respectively. We’ll dive deeper into what those steps look like below.

Survey implementation

You’ll get the most out of your NPS software if you survey your customers regularly. But that doesn’t mean sending the same survey to every single customer at the same time—you won’t get good data that way. To get a full picture of your customer experience, you need to survey customers strategically throughout the buyer’s journey.

Transactional vs relationship surveys

NPS software should allow you to send two types of NPS surveys. Relationship surveys are time-based surveys (say, each customer receives one every six months) that establishes a general brand sentiment. Transactional surveys are sent based on “moments that matter,” such as post-activation or purchase or after a free trial. These are invaluable for gathering specific feedback on interactions with your brand, which you can then act on in real-time.

NPS scheduling logic

Multiple NPS campaigns

You’ll likely want to conduct multiple NPS campaigns at the same time, but need to avoid the very real problem of survey fatigue. Good NPS software will include complex scheduling logic that allows you to gather the feedback you need, without reaching out to individual customers too frequently.

Analytics and insights

The best NPS software will make your new data easy to understand by providing clear visuals and digestible reports. You should get a clear picture of your NPS metrics, of course, as well as how your customers are engaging with the survey itself and a nuanced understanding of your customer’s qualitative feedback.

Quantitative analysis

Specifically, look for software that provides the following quantitative metrics:

NPS survey engagement

  • Response rates
  • Engagement across each channel (open, unsubscribe, and bounce for email, response and unsubscribe for SMS text, and engagement for in-app/webpage)

NPS rating by segment

  • Customer lifecycle
  • Customer demographics (age, gender, etc.)
  • Product or business line, if relevant
  • Location or employee, if relevant

NPS executive dashboard

Qualitative feedback analysis

Your survey should deliver much more than just a number, because NPS best practices call for asking your customers a follow-up question about the primary reason for their numeric rating.

The best NPS software will analyze those open-ended comments and identify keywords, group them by theme, and pinpoint common trends across your customer segments. This is where you’ll find the transformative insights that you can focus on to improve your experience, refine your marketing messages, and refine your roadmap.

We can’t stress this point enough: if you want to use NPS to truly improve your business, do not settle for a software solution that won’t help you identify and act on qualitative customer insights.

Seamless set-up

The software that will work best for your business just works. Choose an NPS provider that will fit in seamlessly with your existing technology, workflows, and communications.

Integrations

In order to send, segment, and analyze your surveys at scale, you’ll need your NPS software to integrate smoothly with your existing tech stack. Of course, integrating with your CRM is a must, but also consider how you’ll need to leverage customer success tools (like ChurnZero or ClientSuccess), help desk software (like Zendesk or Freshdesk), and chat software (like Intercom).

If you know you’ll require a lot of customization, look for NPS software that offers APIs (Application Programming Interface), and ask in advance about custom development options.

Workflow and notifications

Pick an NPS software that allows you to create workflows, segment your responses, and allows for internal involvement across all departments. The best NPS software gives you the ability to set up notification triggers for specific events, so you can take action and provide a good experience for every customer who takes the time to share feedback.

NPS in the office

Internal visibility

If you want to build a customer-first culture, make sure your NPS software supports your goals by displaying relevant data in a convenient way.

This looks different for every company, but consider where your employees spend their time. Are they on-the-go and tied to their smartphones all day? Do they love diving into dense reports at their desks? Is there a big-screen monitor in the breakroom?

Choose software that will deliver easily digestible reporting everywhere your employees are paying attention, including aggregated scores, leaderboards, and real-time comments.

Empowering action

And, it’s all for naught if you can’t actually take action on the feedback you collect.

The best NPS software doesn’t just close the loop by thanking customers for their feedback—though the ability to instantly respond, on a mobile device, should be a requirement. Once you know which NPS category each customer falls into, you open up a whole new world of possible ‘next best steps’ that your software should facilitate:

Turn promoters into advocates

  • Request testimonials or case studies about why they love your product.
  • Ask if they’ll review your product on a third-party site like Yelp. (Make sure your NPS software supports direct links within the survey for your customers’ convenience.)
  • Invite your highest promoters to become brand ambassadors, giving them first access to new products or updates to software, inviting them to speak on webinars or in interviews, and promoting your brand on social media.
  • If you don’t get great participation on any of the above initiatives, you can offer incentives to your biggest fans. This can be as simple as a small gift card to Amazon or Starbucks, a donation to a charity in their name, or a discount or free gift with their next purchase.

Engage your passives

  • Take the time to research why a passive grades your business that way. The best NPS software will include comment analytics that help you identify specific pain points that you can focus on to yield measurable results.
  • Passives feel little or no emotional attachment to your brand because, to them, your brand is average. To a passive, everything you do is expected. So try triggering a workflow that delivers something unexpected to spark delight and joy. For example, waive a fee, surprise them with free shipping, or send a small thank you gift, just for the heck of it. (They don’t need to know it was tied to their ho-hum NPS response!) Just make sure to track your efforts so you can see if they move up to promoter status next time around.

Save (or prevent) your detractors

  • You’re at risk of losing these customers, so move fast. A detractor reply should trigger a workflow that involves proactive contact and tangible effort to improve the relationship.
  • Analyze the feedback detractors provide, and evaluate whether they should have been your customer in the first place. You may uncover valuable insights to share with your sales team about how to target the customers that will find the most value in your product.
  • When you implement the feedback you receive from dissatisfied users to improve your brand experience for others, thank the detractors and notify them of the changes. Feeling heard goes a long way in all relationships—those between a customer and a company are no exception.

NPS workflows

Find the best fit for your business

Your customers deserve the best experience, and that starts with the best NPS software. If you still have questions about what that means for your business, let’s talk. Our in-house experts have helped over a thousand companies implement a robust NPS program, and we’d love to share what we’ve learned along the way.

Book a Demo


About the author

Sara Gates

Sara is AskNicely's Senior Content Strategist, and a passionate advocate for customer experience and storytelling. When she's not geeking out on all things content, you'll find her road-tripping throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Other posts by Sara Gates

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