For customer-first organizations, a Net Promoter Score (NPS) is often considered the gold standard — the “holy grail” benchmark to evaluate a business, customer satisfaction and its position within the broader industry. NPS is a survey questionnaire sent to customers to answer a core question: “how likely is it that you would recommend [organization name] to a friend or colleague? Companies may also choose to ask more – and more qualitative – questions.
The person taking the survey responds to the question(s) with a rating between zero and ten. Zero indicates “not at all likely”, and ten represents “extremely likely to recommend. Scores nine or ten represent “promoters”, scores seven or eight represent “passives”, and scores six or below represent “detractors.” To get your conclusive NPS, you calculate:
(% of promoters) — (% of detractors) = NPS
The resulting number will range from -100 to 100. Negative numbers demonstrate that there are more detractors than promoters. Alternatively, the closer to 100 the NPS, the more promoters there are overall. The higher the number, the more positive the score.
What’s in a number?: What does NPS really tell you
So how representative really are NPS scores? On the one hand, it’s a universal, albeit subjective, assessment that can level the playing field. The responses are clear and straightforward, and for organizations in customer service, NPS is a formulaic indication of collective satisfaction across customers.
However, NPS is most beneficial — and representative — when compared against industry peers and competitors. A 72 for a consulting agency can not be accurately compared to a 50 for a logistics company. Although at first glance, one might assume the consulting agency in this example provides better customer service than the logistics company, the truth is that both organizations’ customers have different expectations. According to recent data for 2022, the average industry NPS for consulting is 68, and for logistics and transportation, the industry average is 43. By these standards, the consulting agency and logistics company would each have a positive NPS compared to their industry peers.
Similarly, on an individual level, NPS is an important metric to measure progress and success over time within an organization. Completed on a quarterly basis, NPS has the potential to identify and address budding challenges or concerns. Evaluated over a longer time frame, NPS can track performance more broadly, including an organization’s ability to address bigger issues and challenges. Reviewing NPS over time allows a business to see patterns of praise and criticism and how a company is demonstrably responding to customer feedback. Seeing a steady uptick of scores over the course of a year or more — irrespective of a raw score — is especially helpful in measuring the improvement in overall customer satisfaction.
B2B payments: NPS
On the other hand, NPS is quantitative feedback — not qualitative. For some organizations, it may not paint a full picture or represent the broad swathe of services offered to customers. For B2B payments specifically, an industry crowded by a myriad of players of different shapes, sizes and offerings, a single number is not explicit of organizational value or opportunity.
The average NPS for the B2B software & SaaS industry is 40. Payment providers, from flashy fintechs to PaaS providers and integrated finance leaders are all included in that average. The challenge? Customer service offerings are all uniquely variable, and a value add from one organization may be a weakness for another in the same industry.
For example, Qualpay solves complex payments. We do this by providing concierge-level service — taking the time to understand every customer’s specific needs and never taking a one-size-fits-all approach to a customer’s payments challenges and solutions. However, this isn’t something that all B2B payment players can claim, and it certainly isn’t captured in a quantitative figure.
Understanding the full picture
NPS is clearly useful in painting a general picture of customer success and engagement — it helps businesses assess organizational change over the long term and compare it with industry peers. To be sure, multiple factors contribute to the efficacy of the results, including sample size, frequency of survey, and length of the questionnaire. Your NPS should never be the be-all-end-all measurement driving corporate decisions, but it can be an especially helpful data point to assess the health and success of your organization.