NPS: How to work with answers to the second question

by | Apr 16, 2021

Twice we have already discussed how important it is to follow the methodology in order to correctly calculate the NPS. And as I explained in the previous post, in NPS, it is not so much the numeric index itself that is important as the two questions you need to ask in order to display the Net Promoter Scor.

Let me remind you that the second question sounds like “Please, explain your opinion?”

From my work experience, I know that if the NPS number itself is very popular and is used everywhere (yes, even where it is not necessary), then the second question is used much less often, although it is he who helps to obtain very important information, to find out the opinion of customers about the product , service or business as a whole, to improve work, and sometimes to develop “from scratch” a strategy for the development of the company, while understanding the strengths and weaknesses of working with a client.

“Nothing” answers are important

So, let’s go back to the example from the previous post about 1000 customers and 200 responding respondents. We need to go into details. Suppose that we are talking about a car service (dealer or independent – it does not matter). We received 200 answers to the first question. And when they began to ask the second question, it turned out that people have nothing to say in response, at best they say “I don’t know”, “I have nothing to say”, “everything is fine”. And for some reason, many researchers believe that such responses need not be written down.

Another very important condition appears in our methodology: we need to collect 200 respondents who not only gave an assessment, but also explained their answer even with words such as “everything is fine”. In the course of such a survey, we will receive many answers like “nothing”, but more specific and accurate answers, believe me, will also be. So let’s talk about how to work with them.

What the results might look like

Fascinating analysis for brave analysts

The above data shows why, with 1000 clients, doing 1000 interviews will be an exorbitant task – after all, it is very difficult to analyze 1000 lines in this form. On the other hand, since a large number of comments will have a vague wording, it will also be difficult to work with a small sample of 10-20 interviews.

At the next stage, it is precisely necessary to count all the “critics”, neutral customers and “supporters”, and then calculate the NPS index, i.e. work out the first question. Many analysts are satisfied with the result and close the study, but some brave analysts go further! But ahead of them is not just two or three additional steps in research, but a whole fascinating journey into analysis. Do not forget that the purpose of calculating NPS is not to measure indices with someone, but to become better for your clients.

So, for those brave who go further. Now we work with each group separately and divide the comments into 4 groups:

  1. Blurred, vague, neutral (this category includes reviews like “everything is fine”).
  2. Pros. Specific or not, but still pluses (we refer to this category comments from “everything is good” to “quickly, on time, inexpensively”).
  3. Cons: specific and implicit (this includes from “everything is bad” to specific “master is a fool, smokes tobacco”).
  4. Offers. (in this group, any statements like “now if it were …” or “it would be nice …”).

For now, we will not consider the first group with vague answers, but turn to three other categories.

“Offers” group : this is exactly what your customers want from you. These opinions must be taken into account, not forgetting that business is business, and not every “want” client can and should be performed.

Group “Pros”: such answers are expressed by “supporters”, sometimes by neutral clients and very rarely – by “critics”. Therefore, it is in the “Pros” that your strengths are listed.

Cons group. In this group, it is important to divide into “critics” and “supporters”. Disadvantages from “supporters” – some pleasant little things and their absence, or, on the contrary, complaints about some aspects of the company’s work – do not lead to a decrease in the index itself. But the “negative” statements from the “critics” just show what shortcomings in the work of the company cause real negativity in customers and reduce their degree of satisfaction.

And about vague comments . It is necessary to find at least something in them. Blurred comments from neutral customers are usually very difficult to assess. And the vague comments of “critics” and “supporters” can sometimes be disclosed in terms of “dissatisfied customer and satisfied customer.” And there is nothing wrong with the fact that in some cases the client’s mood cannot be unraveled. You can put such clients aside and expect that, perhaps, next time they will say something more specific.

Analyzing by four squares

In order to visually analyze the results obtained, it is necessary to distribute all statements into four sectors:

 “Baseline Expectations”: we put all negative statements of “critics” in this sector. And this is exactly what is expected of your company without fail. The absence of this item leads to a sharp decrease in satisfaction. But it still does not affect satisfaction. For example, in the case of a car service, the answer “did nothing” will be in this group.

“ Influencing Elements”: This includes positive statements from “supporters” and positive statements from “critics”. This is what your company is valued for.

Category “Additional”: here we collect cons from “supporters”. Note that the absence of these elements does not affect dissatisfaction, and the presence will be just a pleasant addition. For example, a negative comment from a “proponent” about the taste of coffee from a vending machine would refer specifically to this group of responses. After all, he did not like the coffee and this is a minus, but this is not a significant minus, as it was expressed by a person who gave a score of 9 on the NPS scale.

Proposals, depending on their complexity, are placed either in the category “Influencing elements” if we believe that the absence of this factor leads to a decrease in satisfaction, or in “Additional elements” if we believe that this is a “small thing”, and although it is not necessary to do it, but to fulfill it means to please the client. It is reasonable to ask: “How important is it to be checked or not?” And you can find out only by trying! For example, if you did this “little thing” and then received a positive statement from the clients, then you did everything right. And in this case, you are dealing with an influencing element. And if the reaction to what was done does not appear anywhere in the statements, then it was an additional element, because usually people do not highlight pleasant, but little things.

“Non-influencing”: all comments with fuzzy content are included here. Sometimes in the process of analysis, some of them become clearer and then they can be transferred to another category.

Often in my work I come across the fact that companies do not use the second question, the other part considers this question only for “critics” – which is a pity! Indeed, it is in the “influencing elements” sector that one can see the main directions of development for the company. It is there that the real competitive advantages are located – something for which you and your services are loved and appreciated. Working only with basic expectations means always working on mistakes. Under ideal conditions, this square should remain empty. But positive statements are what distinguishes our company from others. This is your path, your strengths. We must hold on to them, we must rely on them, forming a development strategy. It is these statements that should be used in advertising and communication programs, because they indicate the benefits,

What’s next?

Continue to analyze and draw up an action plan. The Baseline Expectations box contains information for debriefing, there is what needs to be corrected. Basically, this is a sector that indicates problems in the internal organization of your company. These are both unfulfilled obligations and poor communication with customers – that is, your business processes. And they are completely in the area of ​​responsibility of the CEO or managing director. It is the leader who must understand in each specific case which of his employees made a mistake and why. Usually this is a problem of not only one person (although it also happens), most often the problem itself is created by an incorrect business process. But not every manager is capable of admitting this, it is easier to declare some employee guilty.

Let me explain with an example. A client of one highly specialized service, aimed at a young and advanced audience, complained about phone calls, they were inconvenient and untimely. The service management, who spent considerable resources on personnel training, was perplexed. In the end, the client who expressed this opinion was asked to tell how the company could correct its mistake. It turned out that it would be more convenient for this client to communicate with company representatives not by phone, but in writing via messengers. It turns out that in this complaint to the employees, in fact, there were no complaints, and the minus itself was easily transformed into a plus, having realized the client’s wishes.

Let’s continue on what to do next. Then we sort out the “influencing” and “additional” ones in order. The algorithm can be as follows, almost classical.

  1. What does it mean?
    Do we clearly understand what our clients tell us and / or offer? How is it beneficial or what risks does it pose for us?
  2. Who is guilty?
    On whom does the presence of this for the pluses and the absence for the minuses depend? Who in the company is responsible for receiving this comment? For example, the comment “Everything is great! Quickly, on time and at a price that was announced over the phone. ” Who is responsible for ensuring that all services are always provided on time and at a predetermined price?
  3. What to do?

How can this be amplified for the pluses of the influencing elements? Fix for cons. How do I complete for suggestions?

The “proposals” themselves at the first stage need to be worked out taking into account the relevance and feasibility (or interesting from the point of view of the specifics of your business).

Answers to the question “What to do?”

This will give us a list of the answers to the “What to do?” Questions. To work with such answers, you can immediately apply the urgent / important / not urgent / not important matrix. Ask yourself questions: “What will happen if you throw all your strength into this task? What happens if you postpone it for a month? “

In short, evaluate and rank tasks. And then appoint responsible persons with appropriate authority and resources, make the task measurable and time-limited, if necessary, divide it into stages, monitor their implementation and measure the result.

Tell us about the work done

We come to the last stage, which many people forget about. And because of this, all marketing work falls apart – separately research, and separately communication with the client. But after the analysis has been carried out and the changes introduced into the work, it remains to take the last, important step – to inform clients about your successes!

Of course, first of all, it is necessary to say about this to the “critics”. Let them know that their negative feedback has been heard, taken into account and processed: “Look, everything is fixed, come and see for yourself!” How you tell them about it is up to you. There are many possibilities and ways to do this: from posts on social networks to a corporate magazine or a wall newspaper in the client area. But it is imperative to tell. Thus, “critics” will make sure that you are serious about their feedback and work out negativity, new customers will find out that you are really trying for your customers, and loyal ones will have another reason to be proud of their favorite company.

Moreover, the implemented “offers” of customers can become an additional incentive to contact your service. And you can present it with the following wording “At the request of our clients, we have launched a new service, come and use …”. Why not take advantage of this incentive to increase service utilization during the off-season?

And of course, such informational reasons are an excellent invoice for news on the company’s website, for its pages on social networks. After all, it is usually there that there is a lack of regular updates and fresh news.


NPS is a very good tool, but you have to know how to use it. When taking full advantage of the opportunities, it is important to always remember that no index will make you customer-centric or provide you with loyal customers. Only you can do this, fulfilling their desires and exceeding expectations.

About the Author

Alexander Gruzdev is an extraordinarily experienced consultant in business analytics. Since he was 14, Mr. Gruzdev was working in the market research industry and started several businesses including gambling organizations, retail shops, and real estate.

Since his first entrepreneurial endeavors began, he never quit market research – in fact, during the last 15 years Mr. Gruzdev held the positions of general manager and shareholder in this segment. His experience in global market intelligence spans over 20 countries including Europe, Russia, Asia, and the MENA region, for more than 100 different customers.

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