net promoter score
Net Promoter Score by Laura Wilson

Net Promoter Score (or NPS) is one of the most useful metrics for gauging the potential for organic growth in your customer base. In this article, I’m going to go over some of the ways that a forum community can help to improve your NPS.

What is Net Promoter Score?

For the uninitiated, Net Promoter Score is a metric that can be used to determine the brand loyalty of your customers. Determining it is simple; you ask your customers “How likely is it that you would recommend our product/service to a friend or colleague?” on a scale of 1 to 10. Customers who reply with a 9+ are counted as enthusiasts, and under 6 as detractors (with scores of 7 or 8 being discarded). Simply subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to find your score. Any positive score is seen as good, and a score of above 50 is exceptional.

How can customer loyalty drive your business?

Converting customers into brand evangelists is a key part of the strategy of many successful companies, as evidenced by the queue outside phone stores on launch day. The free advertising that comes from enthusiastic customers telling all their friends about you has only become more powerful in the age of social media, when a user’s feedback can be read by thousands of potential customers.

The internet has changed the way that people interact with brands. Brand loyalty in previous generations was often a factor of convenience. A customer might use a particular product because they were unaware of alternatives, because alternatives were hard to source or because they had no simple way to compare products other than price. The internet has allowed consumers a wealth of knowledge at the touch of a button, comparing price, quality (through user reviews) and availability of your (and any of your competitors’) products. Customer loyalty has never been so important to the success of a business, and customers have never been more fickle and savvy about who they award it to.

Customers are increasingly wary of any form of overt advertising, preferring the recommendations of their friends and crowd-sourced mediums such as Yelp. Why would they trust your opinion on a product (via advertising) over those of their friends (via social media)? The answer is, of course, that they wouldn’t. Finding ways to create brand evangelists among your customer base is increasingly the only game in town when it comes to the reputation of your product.

How can a forum community improve your score?

One of the most useful concepts in the NPS methodology is called “Closing The Loop”, which is the process by which a company changes the negative perception that has been revealed by the test. This is the area in which a forum community is so vital. Modern consumers are more vocal than ever about their brand opinions, and channeling more of that discussion into a medium that you can track, moderate and influence will make a huge difference to your relationship with them.

Of course, having a forum community won’t increase your score on its own, but here are some of the things it can do:

  • Allow your customers a place to tell you what they really think of your product
  • Give you the opportunity to respond to feedback and build a relationship with your customers
  • Provide a venue to discuss new product features, announcements and updates
  • Present a relatable human face for your company

That last point can be particularly useful. When your customers view your company as a collection of people rather than a corporate machine, they’re far more likely to recommend your services to other people. Would you be more likely to tell your friends about a local family run deli with great food and friendly service or the deli counter at your local supermarket chain? Even if the food quality and price are similar, the first is far more appealing to most people.

A forum community gives you an opportunity to present your company to your customers as more than just a Twitter drone asking for feedback, or the voice on the other end of a tedious customer service call. It can help build brand loyalty by reframing the question to one of people loyalty. Crucially, it also allows you to see your customers as people too, and to find out what they truly want and need from your products.