Net Promoter Score (NPS  ©) surveys are a great way to measure customer satisfaction, likelihood  of renewal and propensity to advocate. This single-question survey has  gained significant currency in the decade+ since it was first introduced.

Customer Effort Score (CES) is another survey that’s become popular  with Customer Success teams & seeks to measure the ease of experience of a customer with a business/brand.

But, say you are a company that wants to survey your  customers. You might be wondering how you go about these surveys. We  wanted to share our insights, based on user-interviews which we  conducted

How often should I conduct an NPS survey?

The short answer, as always, is “it depends”. Uber asks you to rate  their drivers after each ride! But that’s because each ride is a  transaction with a different service provider, where your experience  could potentially vary widely. However, if you are in a B2C or B2B SaaS business, a healthy frequency would be once a quarter or at least once every 6 months.  Any less frequent and you lose an opportunity to course-correct  quickly. This is especially crucial in SaaS, where contract terms tend to be annual  at best. Any more frequently than once a quarter and you’re  starting to spam. The exception to this rule might be CES surveys (or  its equivalent) that are sent at the closure of each ticket by Customer  Support teams.

Verdict: once a quarter

Should I conduct surveys based on customer journeys or at regular calendar intervals?

Let’s explore both options:

1. Calendar based surveys: in this model, you pick say the 1st Friday of each quarter for sending out NPS surveys to your customer community.

Pro: the upside to this approach is that you can  get an across-the-board feedback within a small window of time.  Comparison across surveys is easy. And lastly, you can mobilize the CSM  (Customer Success) or Account Management teams to follow-up once a  quarter and ensure that the surveys receive a high response rate

Con: the feedback is lumpy & you don’t get a  daily pulse-check. Moreover, your feedback will be from different  user-cohorts, i.e. customers who have just started, customers nearing  go-live, customers in steady state, customers who just renewed etc.  Separating the cohorts becomes a challenge

2. Customer journey surveys: in this model, you survey each customer according to his/her journey. You might implement a rule like "NPS surveys will not be sent till the user has spent at least 30 days using your product". Moreover, you might want to survey each customer, every quarter according to their date on on-boarding, so that you can capture their mood say 1 month before their renewal comes up.

Pro: the advantage of this approach is that you can treat each customer as an account of one. The NPS responses also tend to be meaningful. Example: you can analyze if the 30 day NPS shows a consistent pattern across customers – which would be valuable  feedback to your on-boarding team. The VP of Customer Success also gets a  daily pulse-check because, hey, its somebody’s 30-day anniversary today! The Engineering & Product Management team will hear right away if your product upgrade didn’t go well.

Con: the biggest downside to this approach is the  fact that you cannot run this model manually. You also cannot mobilize  your CSM teams because surveys go out every day.

Verdict: if you have 1000s of customers of average  deal size and at various stages of on-boarding at any time, go with  Customer Journey Surveys. If you have fewer number of high value  customers where a high response rate is critical & you can afford to  manually follow-up, go with a Calendar Based Survey

Should I survey my on-boarding customers differently from my steady-state customers?

The answer is yes. However, what does it mean in terms of surveying frequency?  A general rule of thumb is to do dipsticks more frequently during the  on-boarding phase and dial it down during the steady-state phase of a  customer journey. Say your on-boarding process is 3 months. You might  want to go with a 30, 60 and 90 day survey, followed by surveys once a  quarter. Moreover, during the on-boarding phase, it makes more sense to  talk about CES (Customer Effort Score), rather than NPS. It’s rather  early to ask a customer after 1 month if they will be willing to refer you to their friends or colleagues! A CES, on the other hand, measures the effort taken  by the customer to interact with your business. A 30/60/90 day CES will  help your CSM teams keep a close watch during the on-boarding phase and  look for patterns. Example: if your 30 day CES is  consistently lower than your 90 day CES, it might indicate that you need  better documentation/product UX/frequent touchpoints etc. At the end of  the on-boarding process, you can transition to a quarterly NPS survey.

Verdict: create an on-ramp survey plan & a steady-state plan. Create separate metrics & follow-up playbooks for each.

What has been your experience with implementing NPS and CES surveys?

We’d love to hear your comments below!