Turning happy customers into passionate brand advocates – dreamt of by many, achieved by few. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is one way to give you an idea of how close you are to achieving this cloud nine state.

An established benchmark for gauging customer loyalty

NPS was introduced in 2003 and is based on a single, simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?” According to Satmetrix, one of the founding companies behind the concept, statistical research has shown this question to be the best indicator for customer loyalty and, ultimately, financial success.

Central to NPS is the concept of ‘promoters’, ‘passives’ and ‘detractors’. Which of the three categories a customer falls into is based on his or her answer to the NPS question, which is given on a scale from 0 to 10. Detractors are those who answer between 0-6. Needless to say, detractors are not happy customers who can pose a reputational threat through negative word-of-mouth. Scores 7-8 make up the passives. These customers are satisfied, but not enthusiastic to the point where they would become brand advocates. Cream of the crop customers are those who answer 9 or 10 – the promoters. These are loyal customers with the potential to actively promote your brand among their network.

To calculate your Net Promoter Score, you simply take the percentage of customers who are promoters and subtract the percentage who are detractors, resulting in a -100 (worst) to +100 (best) scale.

NPS for pharma websites

Typically, NPS is applied to an entire business or to individual departments of a business. However, due to the universal nature of the NPS question, it can be used to understand the popularity of nearly any business offering. That holds true also for websites of pharmaceutical companies.

Applying NPS to a pharma website inevitably happens on a smaller scale than deploying it across an entire business. It’s hardly feasible to create a business-wide infrastructure and process around NPS implementation for one website. Which doesn’t mean, of course, that the data NPS generates needn’t be systematically examined and analysed. Without regular review of the data, goal setting and an action plan in place to act on the results NPS provides, you would, in the words of Satmetrix, run into the following scenario: “If all you do is pose the question, then all you get is unprocessed data.”

Things to consider when applying NPS to a website

There are several practical questions that need to be addressed when implementing NPS on a website. At what stage in the visitor journey should the NPS question be posed? Should it be triggered when users open a certain page? When they’ve been on the site for a certain amount of time? When they leave the site? After a pre-defined action, such as a registration or a download? As part of this thought process, consideration needs to be given to how long the NPS question should be live on a website (permanently or for a limited amount of time) and how to avoid survey fatigue and statistical inaccuracies by asking the same visitors again and again.

Internally, somebody needs to be designated to look after the data NPS brings in. This could, for example, be the website owner or somebody from his or her team or an external agency.

A question of strategic importance to answer at the beginning of the NPS deployment process is whether respondents should be given the option to personally identify themselves and give feedback through a free text form. The advantages are that identified visitors could be contacted directly on the basis of their NPS responses and that a free text form gives an extra layer of qualitative insight. A con could be the added demand on resources to analyse the extra information. For pharma companies, issues of compliance and pharmacovigilance also need to be considered.

Benefits of applying NPS to your website

Asking the NPS question on your website allows you to bring the benefits of an already proven question for gauging customer loyalty to your website. There’s no need to devise your own survey.

If you choose to give visitors the option to identify themselves, reaching out to both promoters (e.g. to ask them if you can use them as testimonials) and detractors (e.g. to find out what they didn’t like about their experience on your site) becomes possible. If you allow a free text field, you can get valuable qualitative insights in addition to your quantitative NPS score.

NPS allows you to set a concrete and measurable goal for your website. I.e., you can aim to achieve a certain NPS score in a certain period of time. NPS also allows you to test whether a certain action, such as a website re-design, had an impact on visitor loyalty. Just compare the NPS from a time period before the action to one after.

You can also let your promoters share their love for your website with their network by including social media integration.

Useful links

If you want to find out more about NPS, here are some useful links to help you be on your way:

http://www.netpromoter.com/ – NPS resources center from Satmetrix, one of its founding companies
http://info.netpromoter.com/satmetrix-white-paper-net-promoter-the-power-behind-a-single-number-0 – White paper from Satmetrix about the research behind NPS
http://info.netpromoter.com/ebook-how-to-use-net-promoter-to-drive-business-growth-np – eBook from Satmetrix about how to use NPS to drive business growth
http://www.satsum.com/ – SaaS solution to implement NPS