Net Promoter Score Implementation: DIY or Outsource?

The beauty of Net Promoter Score is its simplicity.  At the core, it is one key numeric ranking question supported by an open ended “why” question.  (See my post on the ABCs of NPS to learn the basics.) It’s a question that can be asked in many channels:  over the phone, in an email, in your website or mobile app, in person.  A variety of tools exist to help you execute NPS for your business with various degrees of complexity and cost.   These range from setting up your own email survey to using an automated service to hiring a consulting firm to implement NPS programs for your company.  Here’s a snapshot of what these different options have to offer:

1.      DIY (Do-It-Yourself) NPS

This is the most basic choice.  The common approach is to use a surveying tool – you write the NPS question, you decide who to send it to and how often, and you keep track of results in a spreadsheet, tallying NPS scores using the proper methodology, and monitoring trends over time.  Typically these are email surveys, and can often be free or low fee depending on the frequency of your sampling and the size of your customer base. Think Survey Monkey.

On the flip side, however, the DIY option can also be very resource intensive as it requires someone to manage the ongoing surveying process and data analysis.  DIY will also offer less expertise on optimizing and maximizing NPS, as the standard survey company is not a specialist in any particular methodology or system.  This may be the perfect option for a smaller traditional offline business to begin dabbling in NPS.

2.      Automated NPS

This is a newer choice in the landscape of Net Promoter Score tools in the Software as a Service (SaaS) economy.   The automated choice removes the manual surveying and reporting from the NPS equation, meaning that everything from who and when you sample to dashboard scoring and trend analysis are handled for you and available in the cloud.  What remains DIY is how you activate the tool and how you handle the feedback you receive to drive your business.

Setting up an NPS program? Get the ebook, The Modern Guide to Winning Customers with Net Promoter Score. Learn how product teams leverage a real-time approach to NPS.

Measuring NPS in-product is an especially attractive NPS option for online businesses with a subscription base or mobile apps – SaaS companies whose end users are regularly engaging with their platform, e-commerce businesses that rely on optimizing each touchpoint of the online consumer experience, and marketplaces that rely on the consistent engagement of their end users to drive business momentum.   It can scale easily, is hassle free to try and deploy, and frees up resources to focus on the “so what?”  — leveraging NPS results to improve the customer experience.

A streamlined version of this option can come free and shouldn’t break the bank.  Our tool, InMoment, is one example. These options also tend to be more focused on optimizing for NPS, so the level of expertise embedded in the tool will be higher than DIY.  Over time you can determine how and if you will want to connect your automated Net Promoter Score tool to other customer experience mechanisms you have in place – things like customer service tickets, CRM, and user research. Businesses whose customers spend little time on their website  — a hair salon, a design agency, a law firm —  might consider a tool like AskNicely that automates the NPS survey via email.

3.      NPS as an “Add-on” Service

A number of companies sell services related to improving the customer experience.  They typically offer a range of products to help with customer success or customer service. Some of these companies may also offer Net Promoter Score tracking as part of a one-stop bundled offering. Zendesk is an example.

If you’re already using one of these services it could be an attractive option to enhance your contract to include NPS measurement, especially if it will be connected to other user metrics of value to you.  But one potential trade off may be the level of rigor behind the NPS sampling and reporting because it will be a non-core activity.  Another consideration is the accessibility of the data.  If the base service that offers the NPS addition is used only by the customer service team, for example, then that data might not easily reach marketing or product.  You will most likely need a champion to drive the importance of NPS in your corporate agenda and raise its visibility across the organization as it might easily get buried in a functional silo.

4.      Full Service NPS

Call it the Cadillac plan of NPS – the full service option is right for companies that are looking to rigorously implement NPS as a system in their organizations with outside support.  The gorilla in this space is Satmetrix, who alongside Fred Reichheld and Bain and Company created the Net Promoter Score over a decade ago.  This option can include hands on consulting, as well as more complex measurement tools.  The flip side is that this approach usually requires more deployment time and a commitment to dedicated resources to ensure ongoing success of the program.   This approach is typically more suited to sizable (and often more traditional) organizations with larger budgets and bigger cross functional implementation needs.

5.   BIY (Build-it-Yourself) NPS

If you’ve got development resources on hand, there’s always the temptation to consider building your own tool to measure NPS.  You’ll have to consider the trade-offs of design control, automation/triggers, maintenance, improvement.  Do you create your own email campaign or in-app survey from scratch?  Will you have a resource on your team to make sure this continues to be relevant, optimized, improved?  Does the math work out in the favor of build vs. buy?  Is this a core activity for your engineering resources to focus on? For many companies, even with development resources at hand, it makes sense to leave this to an external tool or expert.

How to choose?  I’ll devote a future post to some key considerations that might help your decision-making.

Jessica Pfeifer, Co-founder of Wootric, has on-boarded and coached hundreds of  businesses on the successful use of Net Promoter Score.

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