A Better Alternative to the Flawed NPS (Net Promoter Score)

Posted by TJ on 16 June 2023
A mockup showing a sample NPS-type survey question.

How likely are you to recommend [company x] to a friend or colleague? That’s the call to action for many NPS (Net Promoter Score) customer surveys - one that we’re sure has landed in your Inbox many times. 

NPS operates as a measure of overall customer loyalty, but hinges on your customers answering a single question: On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?

The popularity of NPS stems from its status as a standard benchmark, which allows comparisons to be made across different industries and competitors. Its simplicity also makes it easy for organizations to comprehend and communicate. However, its ease of use and broad acceptance doesn’t necessarily translate into a useful tool for product enhancement, and in fact it can be quite the opposite.

Let's take a look at why.

The Problem With NPS

NPS can be a little bit like that friend who tells you the headline news but leaves out all the juicy details - it’s just a little bit vague.

If a customer scores low, you're left scratching your head, asking "But why? Was it our product? Our customer service? Our prices?" Likewise, if they score high, you're in the dark about what you did right. You want to know what you should keep doing, right? NPS simply doesn't give you the detailed insights you need to make precise changes to your product or service.

NPS has a number of shortcomings that prevent it from truly giving you the feedback you need to drive effective, customer-focused changes within your company or product:

  • NPS can’t provide detailed insights or context: As we mentioned, NPS provides a high-level gauge of customer sentiment, but it doesn't give you the detailed insights into why customers feel the way they do. For instance, if a customer gives a low score, it's unclear which specific aspects of the product or service they were dissatisfied with. Similarly, it doesn’t differentiate between those customers that are unhappy all the time, and those that gave a low score due to a single negative experience even if they generally like your product or service. This makes it genuinely difficult to identify specific areas for improvement.
  • NPS is subjective: The NPS system relies on numerical ratings, which can be highly subjective. Different people will have different interpretations of what each number on the scale means. This can lead to inconsistencies in the underlying data that aren't clear when you're doing your analysis.
  • NPS overemphasizes extreme views: On its scale that ranges from 0 to 10, NPS categorizes customers into detractors (0-6), passives (7 and 8), and promoters (9 and 10), but this approach fails to capture the full spectrum of customer sentiment and gives undue weight to extreme views. Let's consider an example: a customer who rates you a 6 might actually be quite satisfied overall but may have encountered a minor issue. However, under the NPS system, they are grouped together with someone who rates a 0, which doesn't accurately reflect the nuances of their two experiences.
  • Temporal bias can be a problem: Customer satisfaction can vary depending on the time or context in which the survey is taken. A customer's recent interaction with the company may have a stronger influence on their score, leading to skewed results.
  • NPS doesn’t lead to actionable insights: Because of the context of the question that NPS asks, it’s hard to develop strategic responses or interventions based on NPS survey results. A customer may not recommend a product for various reasons that might not directly relate to their satisfaction, such as having no friends who need the product or preferring not to make recommendations in general. The nuance of these sorts or responses is lost when using NPS.
  • NPS uses a clunky, out-dated customer experience: Ask yourself, is presenting 11 little numbered buttons for your customer to process and click the best way of soliciting feedback in 2023? This overused and outdated design can make the survey feel impersonal and unengaging, potentially reducing completion rates. It screams “We’re going through the motions of asking you for this feedback, which we have no intention of doing anything with.”
  • NPS leads to survey fatigue: Given that many companies use NPS, customers can experience survey fatigue and become cynical after seeing many of the same type of survey in their Inbox. Also, without having a coherent plan to do anything with the results, this feeling can be exacerbated if they don't see changes occurring as a result of the feedback they take their time to provide. This results in low response rates and unreliable data as users fail to engage in a meaningful way with your attempts to gather their feedback.

Given these problems with NPS, what’s a better way to gather insights and meaningful feedback from your customers?

Voyce: The Modern Way to Collect Customer Feedback That You Can Action

A mockup showing Voyce Feedback in action.

Voyce Feedback is a simple customer feedback system aimed at delivering actionable insights about your customers' experiences, preferences, and concerns.

Unlike traditional metrics like Net Promoter Score, Voyce encourages a customer to provide a comprehensive explanation of their viewpoint (without overtaxing them) by asking two simple, but carefully designed questions - How was your experience with us? and If you could change or improve one thing, what would it be?

This might seem overly simplistic at first, but remember, traditional NPS surveys only ask one question! Our questions are designed to not only gather overall sentiment, but to also follow this with a request for explanatory feedback.

Let's break this down and discuss in a bit more detail.

A screenshot showing the two questions asked when providing Voyce Feedback.
A screenshot of the first question asked as part of the Voyce Feedback flow.

1. How was your experience with us?

The first question we ask - How was your experience with us? - offers the respondent only two clear options, 'Good' or 'Bad'.

This binary response is deliberately designed to compel people to make a clear choice - was their experience positive or not? It embraces the ‘don’t make me think’ philosophy which helps to avoid choice paralysis, and discourages the ambivalence which will undermine your ability to drive meaningful improvements in your product! You can read more about the implications of having an odd or even number of survey questions here.

This question captures the overall sentiment of the feedback which can be later used for filtering and analysis, and primes the user to fully and properly answer the following ‘Magic Question’.

A screenshot of the second question asked as part of the Voyce Feedback flow.

2. If you could change or improve one thing, what would it be?

After clicking 'Good' or 'Bad', customers are presented with what we've dubbed the 'Magic Question' - If you could change or improve one thing, what would it be?

Years of our own customer research and testing of numerous interview and survey questions have shown that this one specific question elicits the highest response rate, and more importantly, it generates the most useful, actionable feedback.

These insights and any other details the customer wishes to leave with you are saved straight into Voyce where they easily identified, sitting alongside the feedback and insights you gather from other sources.

A screenshot of the feedback received screen in Voyce Feedback.

After they've provided their feedback, your customers also get the chance to share their contact information (this is completely optional).

This gives you the means to get in touch and really delve into any problems or concerns they might have. Even better, it allows you to circle back with your customers at a later date to assure them that the issues they flagged have been addressed and resolved.

How Else Does Voyce Help Wrangle Customer Feedback?

A screenshot of the Insights pane in Voyce.

Ease of Setup and Centralization

One of the key strengths of Voyce Feedback is its simplicity to set up and its ability to centralize your customer feedback. Voyce enables efficient organization, discussion, and triage of feedback, which leads to a deeper understanding of your customers' preferences and problems.

Insight Discovery and Problem-Solving

Voyce goes beyond surface-level feedback. By helping you identify trends and patterns, you’re able to define specific problems and initiate the creation of solutions. This proactive approach fosters innovation and continuous improvement, a feature not offered by the single-question NPS system​.

Sample Google Reviews.

Quick Response to Customer Issues

Voyce stands out with its ability to rapidly address customer issues. Because you’re able to continuously monitor feedback and make timely improvements to your business, you can prevent situations from escalating on public online review platforms where confidence in your product or service can be undermined. This contrasts with the traditional NPS system, which often results in delayed feedback due to its quarterly or annual calculation process​​.

Customer Insight Management

Voyce excels in capturing and managing customer insights. It serves as a repository for not just feedback through the Voyce Feedback form, but for all customer research, insights, and feedback. This enables your business to clearly define and prioritize customer problems, so you can create smarter solutions that deliver real value.

Want meaningful customer feedback? Try Voyce Feedback for Free!

Retire NPS. There's a better way...
A range of product insights can be collated.

Capture and centralize your customer insights.

Voyce is a beautiful repository for all your customer research, insights & feedback.
Organize problems by severity and scope to help find those that should be fixed first.

Define, validate, and triage customer problems.

Link and convert your insights into clearly defined problems, to find the 'why?', and identify those that are critical to solve.
Easily generate multiple solutions to the problems you've identified.

Discover opportunities and build the right things.

Create smarter solutions that deliver real value and delight your customers. Understand when to say 'go' or 'no'.