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When you write a story, what is the first thing you should think about? Your audience. The same holds true for your Net Promoter Score survey. Really, writing a survey question is just another type of storytelling. You can use your creative writing skills to make your NPS question more effective and increase your survey response rate.

After all, “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon,” according to Brandon Sanderson, author of “The Way of Kings.”

What is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

Net Promoter Score surveys are a type of customer experience survey. They are good for gathering real-time customer feedback and building customer relationships. The NPS question starts with, “How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” But it can also be so much more.

Remember that your NPS survey represents a valuable customer loyalty metric. Viewing customers through this lens gives customer success teams a better way to build healthy, long-lasting customer relationships. Solid customer data helps your customer success teams predict and prevent churn.

turn NPS detractors into promoters

Now we’re going to tell you exactly how to write an NPS survey question to grab your customer’s attention and get the feedback you need.

Tip No. 1: make your survey personal

When you send a survey, you are trying to become part of your customer’s story. We respond best to the stories where we identify with the main character, and we feel as though we have walked in their shoes.

Your aim is for customers to see themselves reflected in your survey question. And there are some very good reasons for doing this. 73% of customers want brands to make the shopping experience more personal. Personal experiences drive loyalty.

We tend to respond very well when others use our name in their communication with us. As Dale Carnegie says, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

You have the ability to make your NPS question much more personal by using your customer’s name and other relevant details. Survey software allows you to personalize your survey greetings and language with merge fields.

For example, like this(full disclosure—this survey is not made with GetFeedback):

NPS question airbnb

Image source: MyCustomer

When this technique is used sparingly, it is even more effective.

Tip No. 2: ask about the why

If you wrote a story that was all fact and no drama, it wouldn’t be very interesting at all. We naturally want to be told the why behind the characters: we crave knowing what drives them to do the things they do. The same goes for your NPS survey.

Of course, the purpose of your survey is mainly to gather quantitative data about your Detractors, Passives, and Promoters. That’s one of the main advantages of the NPS format for a survey. On the other hand, you can also ask for qualitative feedback from your customers to find out why they gave you the rating they did.

nps question 4

You need qualitative data—the why—from your customers to gather meaning and get actionable insights. It brings your survey responses to life so you can either a) solve any problems that arise, or b) keep doing more of the good stuff.

Here’s an example from Groove (full disclosure—this survey is not made with GetFeedback):

nps question 5

Tip No. 3: use the fewest number of words you can

It’s easy to add in more detail, but one of the hardest things about writing is knowing exactly what to cut out. When you spend time crafting your message, it can be hard to let go of a single word or sentence. William Faulkner put it best when he articulated how “in writing, you must kill your darlings.” The reason that this technique is so effective is when you cut the fluff, the rest becomes far more engaging.

This means that no matter how precious your NPS survey becomes to you, you must edit, edit, and edit again. Customers are much more likely to complete a short survey than a long survey, which is one of the reasons why NPS surveys are so effective. The more concise the question you come up with, the better.

That’s one of the reasons why hearing aid company Eargo saw a 20% increase in survey completion rate when they switched their survey creation to GetFeedback. Create short, engaging surveys that don’t take up too much of your customers’ valuable time.

nps question 3

Tip No. 4: don’t break character for any reason

In any good story, your goal is to make the characters as believable as possible. This includes the actions your characters take and the words they use. A lot of work goes into building characters, and are a big part of what makes stories so enjoyable.

Your NPS survey question should be written in character with your brand. Remember that 75% of customers want a consistent experience with your brand—regardless of the channel they use to contact you. Any interaction or touchpoint with your customer should be on brand. And all this effort in providing a consistent experience is more than worth it. According to Forbes, consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by 23%.

While staying in character, it should not be obvious that you are using survey software to gather feedback from your customers. It should feel like a natural part of their experience with your brand. Your survey should speak to your customer just like a support rep or sales rep, not a robot. Use the tone of voice and language that you would use in any brand materials or support interaction.

nps question survey

Choose NPS survey software that allows you to have full brand control over the surveys you create, including changing brand logos, fonts, colors, and even custom URLs.

nps question getfeedback

Tip No. 5: prompt your audience to feel

Readers read stories to feel something—moving an audience is the most fundamental purpose of a story. If we don’t feel, our attention wanders and we move onto something else. Better yet, “storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today,” says renowned storyteller Robert McKee.

Your biggest chance to invoke emotion is when writing your open-ended NPS question. This is where you ask your customer for more information about the rating they gave you. Your aim is to ask your customer to expand on their experiences by tapping into their feelings. For example, instead of asking, “What was the reason for your score?” say something like, “If we could do one thing to make you happier what would you choose?”

You can also tap into the power of imagery to trigger an emotional reaction that could motivate customers to complete your survey. Carefully choose an image that is related to your products, like an outdoor adventure scene for an outdoor product company.

Here’s an example from a CSAT survey:

nps question

And remember, if you discover that your customer feels bad about your company, follow up promptly and helpfully. 52% of customers believe that companies should act on their feedback, and it just might help you turn a Detractor into a Promoter.

Tip No.6: keep it specific

We like stories that are specific, chock full of details and depicting believable people and events. It makes stories more relatable, and also makes an abstract concept—like rate our brand—more concrete, by tying it into something we can experience. In your NPS survey, reference the specific interaction that your customer has had with your brand, whether that is booking a vacation on your platform, or ordering a ride in your app.

Of course, we often want to take the temperature of how our customers feel about our company overall, since this is the main purpose of the NPS survey. But you can sometimes replace the word “company” in your survey question with a specific product or service. Referencing a specific interaction with your brand is much more powerful than sending out a generalized survey question.

nps questions

Making your survey more specific also makes it seem more like it comes from a human—there should be a real person at the helm of your software. And customers are more likely to complete your NPS survey if they think their feedback will be heard.

Write the whole story

A great story is a page-turner that you just can’t put down. Here’s your chance to put your storytelling skills to good use by writing NPS survey questions that grab your customers’ attention.

At the same time, a survey can only take you so far. You have to build a picture of the whole story of your customer’s experience. Use these storytelling techniques to increase your survey response rate, and allow your customer success team to learn more about your customers—resulting in the ultimate happy ending.