14 NPS Survey Best Practices For SaaS: How to Leverage NPS Surveys

Is there such a thing as NPS survey best practices? The short answer is YES.

If you want to measure customer loyalty and user sentiment in general, following NPS best practices is a must. There’s much more to NPS than sending users a customer feedback survey.

In this article, I’ll briefly go over what Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey is and how to calculate it. Then we’ll look at some benchmarks of what a good response rate is and the best practices to follow for optimal results.

You can read on to get the full detail or use the table of contents to jump right to the sections you need.

TL;DR

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a customer satisfaction metric measured on a 10-point scale. It’s obtained by asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product to others.
  • Scores between 0 and 6 are detractors — people least likely to recommend your product. People that rate you 7–8 are passives. They’re not sure if they will recommend you or not. Those that rate you 9–10 are promoters. They’re satisfied with your tool and most likely to recommend you.
  • The NPS metric is calculated by deducting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. For example, if you have 50% promoters and 20% detractors, your NPS is 30.
  • The 2022 NPS benchmark for SaaS is 41.
  • Two questions are ideal in an NPS survey. The first is the rating question, followed by a more qualitative question asking users why they chose the rating score.
  • The copy for your surveys should be short and to the point. And aim to perform NPS at least once or twice a year.
  • A response rate of 20% and above is considered good, but you can aim for more.
  • NPS surveys are typically sent via emails or triggered in-app, but you could use a combination of both.
  • Collecting feedback at different stages of the customer journey helps you identify and address friction easily.
  • Treat NPS scores as more than vanity metrics; always analyze the results you get and act on them. Here’s how: respond to complaints by detractors so you can meet their needs and increase your chances of retaining them. Reach out to promoters to ask for reviews or recommendations.
  • Offer incentives when asking people for surveys that will require an additional time commitment.
  • Userpilot is a fantastic tool for collecting and analyzing NPS feedback.

What is a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey?

NPS is a type of user survey developed in 2003 by Bain & Company.

It typically involves two questions: the first is using a scale to ask users how likely they are to recommend a product. The second is a qualitative follow-up question to understand why they chose their score.

Many people have criticized the NPS approach, and some even suggest a 7-point scale works better than the 11-point method initially invented.

However, a short question with an 11-point scale (from 0–10 as seen below) is more common today.

There are three categories of people in an NPS survey.

  • The promoters: These are respondents who chose scores of 9 to 10
  • Passives: The respondents who chose scores of 7 to 8
  • Detractors: Respondents that rated the product 0–6

The Net Promoter Score is calculated by deducting the percentage of detractors from promoters — without including passives since they’re in the middle.

How to calculate net promoter score
How to calculate net promoter score

Let’s imagine you had 100 respondents. 45% were promoters, 25% were passives, and 30% were detractors. Your Net Promoter Score will be +15 (45%–30%).

What is a good net promoter score? NPS benchmarks

NPS benchmarks vary from industry to industry. But generally, an NPS of 0–30 is considered good.

The benchmark for SaaS is higher, though.

It used to be around ‘30’ some years ago, but that number has risen dramatically, thanks to the rise in customer experience.

According to NICE Satmetrix, the average NPS score for SaaS is now at 41.

nps average by industry
NPS average by industry

What the leadership board currently looks like.

nps-benchmarks-what-is-a-good-nps-score.webp
NPS leaders by industry (Image source: Satmetrix systems)

You shouldn’t be comparing yourself to others, but strive for higher NPS than you already have.

Don’t also camp at the industry average because that figure changes every year.

Be committed to constant improvement instead — the surveys will typically show areas of your product or customer experience that need to be worked on. Take note of these and see what you can do.

How many questions should an NPS survey have?

Having two NPS questions is ideal.

Most NPS surveys have one question only:

“On a scale of 0–10, how likely are you to recommend software ABC to a friend or colleague?”

But a best practice is to have two since the above will give you quantitative data only and won’t help much.

You should follow it with a second question — a qualitative one:

“Why did you choose this score?”

But don’t make the follow-up question mandatory as it can lead to frustration.

follow up questions nps survey best practices
Follow up questions for NPS survey built with Userpilot

How do I write a good NPS survey?

You want to write a two-part question for a good NPS survey. One for the rating and the other for qualitative information. Remember to keep both questions short and sweet.

You can use the format we shared earlier for the rating question, but you’re free to play around with the follow-up.

Just be sure it’s open-ended and not biased.

How often should you ask NPS surveys?

For SaaS, NPS surveys should be triggered during onboarding or after the user has performed a key action within the app.

However, it doesn’t make sense to trigger your surveys too often for existing customers.

You might end up infuriating them.

Instead, schedule your surveys for every quarter or once in six months. The exception here is when you roll out new features or make major changes to your product.

The survey channel you use largely depends on the user segment you’re targeting.

On a general note, in-app surveys are used for existing customers that are active on the app. While the email channel is mostly used for new or lapsing users.

NPS survey best practices
NPS survey best practices

What is a good NPS survey response rate?

Several factors influence survey response rates, top of which are customer engagement and the ease of responding to the survey.

If these two are very high, you can get 70% or more response rates. However, according to Genroe’s research, the average for NPS surveys is anything around 20% or more.

NPS survey best practices for SaaS

You’ve known what NPS surveys are and key things to consider when rolling yours out.

Now it’s time to go over the best practices to ensure you get only the best results from your efforts.

Send NPS surveys in-app and using email

There are two ways to send NPS surveys — do it in-app or send them via emails.

The upside of sending NPS surveys in-app is that you get to trigger users contextually.

In addition, an in-app survey enables you to instantly understand how users feel after engaging with your product.

In-app nps survey best practices
Asana in-app survey

Email surveys help you understand user sentiment after interactions with customer support or using your tool.

An NPS email is a great opportunity to catch users that don’t visit the app often. But the downside of this approach is the low response rates you get compared to in-app surveys.

And the significant advantage is that it’s less intrusive (customers open their emails at their discretion, but in-app surveys can sometimes show up when users are least ready).

Wise sends this email survey after users make their first transfers.

Wise email nps survey best practices
Email NPS from Wise

You can combine both in-app and email surveys. Gathering data in multiple situations will give you a more holistic view.

Trigger NPS surveys by in-app engagement

NPS surveys are best triggered contextually. This means sending your surveys after the action you’re surveying for has been performed.

Here are some situations when you might want to trigger the NPS survey in-app.

  • After engaging with a particular feature several times
  • Immediately a user is done contacting support
  • After completing primary onboarding
  • When a user is done engaging with an in-app experience
  • After the user upgrades their plan

The only caution here is to be mindful of your frequency. You don’t want to ask the same questions multiple times in a day or week, so it’s best to segment customers based on in-app behavior and only send triggers when necessary.

Userpilot is one of those tools that allows you to segment and trigger NPS on specific pages and even set specific conditions for the surveys to be triggered.

Segmenting nps with Userpilot
Segmenting NPS with Userpilot

Collect and measure NPS data regularly

When you measure NPS regularly, you’ll be more positioned to prevent customer churn in real-time because you’ll see customer frustrations quickly.

It makes sense to run NPS surveys multiple times a year if you have a large customer base — do it quarterly, perhaps. But if you’re a small to mid-sized company, aim for once or twice a year.

Don’t just run these surveys for the sake of it. Analyze your data and improve, aiming to make future scores higher than the previous ones.

Frequency as part of nps survey best practices
When using a tool you can set the frequency of your NPS surveys. Get a Userpilot demo and see how.

Use NPS surveys at multiple stages of the user journey

If you’re anything like other SaaS companies, your ultimate goal is to drive product adoption and ensure customers use your product for life.

No doubt, some will churn along the way. That’s just normal for every business. But with extra effort, you can help many users become product advocates.

NPS surveys are one of those ways you get that done. By tailoring your surveys to every journey stage, you get to identify and remove friction quickly.

Let’s consider some important product milestones to ask for a customer’s feedback:

  • During onboarding
Hubspot onboarding message
Hubspot onboarding message
  • When users have reached the activation milestone. This milestone varies depending on your product, so decide what’s important to you. For instance, a good milestone for a productivity tool could be crossing off your 10th to-do list.
  • After adoption. This is the point when customers have tried your important features and become regular users.
  • Unique date-set. NPS surveys can also be sent on days unique to the users for the journey stage they’re in. This could be 2–3 days before their trial expires for a trial user. For existing users, it may be seven days after rolling out new features.

Always include a follow-up qualitative question

Follow-up questions provide you with richer information you can use to improve in the future.

The common follow-up questions look something like this:

nps-survey-best-practices-qualitative-question-userpilot.webp

But you can always customize your questions to fit the survey channel and customer category. Here are some examples to inspire you.

follow up survey questions as part of nps best practices

Personalize NPS surveys

Businesses all over the world are getting smarter with personalization and contextual messaging.

Customers have been educated, and they expect nothing short of every other brand. As proof, Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report shows that 66% of customers “expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.”

This points to one fact: personalization is how you win the customer over.

Fortunately, there are many ways to go about that. Here are two examples:

  • Personalize your survey emails. Use personalized subject lines and always refer to users by their names. You could even take it a step further to reference their companies.
  • Add a personal message as Slack does in the image below. People relate to people, so adding some personal information can dramatically increase your response rates.
Add personal message to nps request
Add a personal message to nps request

A/B test your NPS surveys

A/B testing is always a good idea. And it’s the only way to know if your ideas will work or not.

Apply A/B testing to both email and in-app surveys. You can play around with different subject lines, word counts, and formatting for the email surveys. Stick to the ones with the highest open rates until another idea comes along.

Send NPS survey to the right number of customers

The sample size is important when conducting a bulk survey without context. In cases like this, you generally want to target a moderate size to be safe.

If your group is small, any slight difference in response — like having more promoters than detractors will affect the Net Promoter Score and skew your judgment. The opposite is also true for large audiences.

But if your surveys are context-driven, you have nothing to worry about. That’s because you can always trace the response to a specific context and use product analytics to understand the result better.

Offer an incentive to your respondents

Incentives are known for producing inaccurate data — respondents will act just because of the promised reward.

But you don’t have much choice if you’re still getting low response rates after trying different engagement tactics.

Your incentive doesn’t have to be something big, but make sure it’s valuable to the user. A good incentive can be anything from an ebook to a trial extension or free credits.

Treat NPS as more than a vanity metric

Your surveys will be useless if you don’t analyze the data and do something with it.

So instead of treating NPS data as a vanity metric, analyze your promoter’s behavior to see what they’re doing differently. Perhaps they’re using a feature that detractors aren’t using?

Or maybe they’re more active on the platform than the other user segments.

Take note of both the positive trends (from promoters) and negative trends (from detractors). Then see how you can increase the positive trends and drive down the negative ones.

For instance, if promoters use a specific feature more than others, you could create campaigns that will enhance usage for such features.

Look for patterns in NPS responses and tag responses

This is time-consuming, but the process is well worth it as it will help with retention, among other things.

Tagging is simple when you use a tool like Userpilot. Just manually go over the qualitative responses and tag the recurring ones. You could have tags like “missing features” (as shown below), “UI update,” and so on.

After tagging, your next task is to identify patterns that will help you improve (more on that shortly).

response tagging as part of nps best practices
NPS response tagging in Userpilot

Group NPS responses by tagging recurring responses. Get a Userpilot Demo and see how.

Customize and automate your NPS survey follow-up

Follow-up users to offer additional help or prompt in-app experiences as needed. This can be achieved by first segmenting users based on their score then tailoring experiences to fit their unique needs.

Imagine passive users say they find the app difficult to use.

You could then segment them and offer contextual guidance the next time they’re on your platform. Userpilot helps you automate this process for multiple in-app experiences (book a demo to see how).

Here’s how a segment might look on Userpilot.

User segment on userpilot
User segment on userpilot

Follow-up with detractors and close the feedback loop

We talked about response tagging in a previous section. This section covers how you can leverage that to improve customer experience.

Let’s use the image below as an example. Notice “Instagram direct posting missing” had six responses and a negative Net Promoter Score of -50.

Follow up with detractors
Follow up with detractors

What you can do in this case is add the missing feature and contact detractors through email or in-app messaging.

Sometimes it won’t be a missing feature. It could be a bug, product complexity, etc. Just fix it and follow up with detractors to close the loop.

As in the example below, you can always ask for more details when you don’t understand a detractor’s qualitative feedback.

Ask for clarity on feedback when confused
Ask for clarity on feedback when confused

Learn more from your promoters and drive word of mouth

If someone gives you an NPS score of 9/10 or 10/10, then chances are they will be open to providing more in-depth feedback.

Reach out to them for that.

This feedback could take the form of an interview or a more extended survey. It’s always good to attach an incentive when asking for something that will take some of their time. A best practice is usually an Amazon voucher or extended subscription.

Leverage promoters to drive word of mouth by asking them to recommend you. See how the customer success team at Barametics do it:

Follow up nps request from barametics

One other thing you could ask for is an in-depth review on G2 or Capterra. Your customers are likely to offer this if they’re happy with your product and customer support.

nps-survey-best-practices-follow-up-promoters.webp
Ask promoters for more in-depth reviews using an in-app slideout

Implement NPS surveys in 3 steps with Userpilot and start collecting customer feedback

Now that you know the best practices to follow, here’s how you can use a tool like Userpilot to apply them.

Customize survey questions and appearance

Userpilot allows you to create in-app NPS surveys and personalize them with your preferred look and feel to match your brand identity.

All without coding or using CSS.

In-app nps surveys with Userpilot
In-app NPS surveys with Userpilot

You can also customize your content effortlessly. This is especially important when A/B testing.

Customize nps surveys

Set audience and triggering conditions

The next step is to set your audience and determine triggering conditions based on what you want to achieve.

You could choose to target all users or a specific segment. Userpilot’s advanced targeting also lets you decide which pages your NPS surveys will show up on.

nps audience targeting
NPS audience targeting

Analyze NPS results and follow up

Our rich analytics provides you with an overview of how your score changes over time. You can also dive deeper into responses, add tags and set automatic replies, as discussed in this article.

Analyze results and follow up as part of nps best practices
Rich NPS analytics from Userpilot

Conclusion

NPS surveys are useful for knowing what customers think about your tool and understanding how well you’re performing.

But the scores become a vanity metric if you don’t analyze them and take action.

No matter the size of your business, it’s always a good idea to perform NPS surveys at least once or twice a year. You could do more, just be mindful not to inundate users with surveys.

Want to start implementing the NPS survey best practices learned in this article? Get a Userpilot Demo and get started.

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