An Industry Highly Critical of Net Promoter Score (NPS) in B2B
There are several standardized customer satisfaction solutions such as CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) or NPS (Net Promoter Score), which are two of the most popular quantitative solutions available. Both of these survey methodologies are very dated, with NPS being newer, introduced in 1993. These tools are mainly aimed at B2C customers and provide a very high-level way to map trends without understanding what is shaping the trend or why. For example, NPS always asks the same hypothetical question: “How likely are you to recommend Company X to a friend or colleague on a scale from 0 to 10”. CSAT is best used for transactional feedback, such as understanding how satisfied a customer was with a specific customer support help.
NPS is primarily valuable for large consumer brands with thousands of customers, as a low friction way to get feedback about the overall sentiment towards the brand. The average response rate for NPS is 11% in B2B (Account Experience Podcast #43) which makes it hard for a company to get data that represents its client base. This emphasizes the fact that the main benefactors of NPS are B2C brands with a huge number of users and a fairly simple transaction model. But even a straight-forward B2C transaction can have so many touchpoints and variables that NPS is of little use as it doesn’t uncover the issue behind the score or changes in score. While the NPS system is the industry standard today, there is very little loyalty towards it and most people are very critical of it as a tool for measuring experience and loyalty.
By comparison, take a long standing B2B business relationship where the client is in daily contact with multiple people within the vendor company and with multiple users within the client company. A unique feature of the Cliezen system is that each client user that is in regular contact with the vendor company and the product is sent a Rapid Smart Survey that can determine what exact issues the client has and contributes to the Experience Gap. The system gives the Cliezen user (i.e. Account Executive or Customer Success agent) feedback that is used to address the issue and decrease the Experience Gap.
The learnings and actions taken based on the feedback is an important factor to the ongoing satisfaction of the client. Once the client feels and understands that the feedback she provides is actually being read and reacted upon she will continue to provide the valuable feedback to the vendor.
With a response ration of 60-80% Cliezen's clients are seeing 5-10x the feedback they did when using NPS as a feedback mechanism. This difference is enormous when it comes to the validity of the feedback and if it's representing the sentiment of your client base or just a handful of unhappy people voicing their minority opinion.
Cliezen is on its way to dethrone the NPS system as the industry-standard with the Cliezen Relationship Quality Score (RQS) as it provides companies with an insightful and actionable metric that can be benchmarked against unlike the very limited insights NPS provides from a small part of the client base.
Around a third of our clients reported using NPS before signing up to Cliezen's RQS methodology. Of those that used NPS, about half of them reported being happy with it as a tool but that they mainly used it as a vanity metric to display on their website or in management reports (if the results were favorable) as the insights it provided was very limited. The criticisms of NPS among our clients was, however, very critiacal with one Client Success Manager explaining that they get a score of 30 NPS whether they have 50 promoters, 30 neutral and 20 detractors, or 30 promoters, 70 neutrals and 0 detractors. That is, they can get the same final score with wildly different customer satisfaction statistics and no insights into what determines the score or what can be improved.