When you first benchmark your business against industry standards, the results can sometimes be disheartening. If your NPS is lower than expected, it can cause a knee-jerk reaction within the business as you struggle to find a miracle cure. But a lower than expected NPS is not a reason to be discouraged, in fact, it’s the perfect catalyst for reinvigorating your business and your journey towards a truly customer-centric approach.

The most important aspect to keep in mind is that there are no silver bullets to fix a low NPS. It takes a consistent approach with concerted effort across all business units. In fact, your goal should not be to increase NPS at all, rather to continually improve customer experience at all stages of the customer journey. This will allow your business to focus on converting passives and detractors into promoters. With that in mind, let’s consider 4 ways to improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS).

1. Are you truly customer-centric?

Transforming a business and its culture is an immense task. If you’ve only begun to implement a voice of the customer project, then don’t expect to be realising large jumps in your NPS over a short time period. Even if you’ve completed a full rollout, there can still be pockets of resistance to achieving this internally.

Read more: Is your organization taking customer experience seriously?

It’s not enough to say your customers are what matters, you need to have internal buy-in, and not just by those in customer-facing roles. If the whole organization isn’t focused on making this change then the efforts of the customer analyst are likely to be wasted. Consider implementing KPIs linked to customer experience across the board as one way to focus the business’ attention where it matters.

2. Address specific friction points

Review your customer journey from start to finish and relate it back to your NPS survey results. We're talking a complete nose to tail review. For instance, you may find the sales team is a reoccurring theme (specifically complaints around pushy tactics). Account executives making exaggerated claims are able to meet their personal and even team goals, but this comes at the cost of brand damage. But you’ll find it’s not limited to customer-facing roles. Issues such as product quality may be related to your manufacturing or QA teams. Invoicing concerns will go to your accounts team. The key here is mapping the entire customer journey and correlating this with NPS survey results to ensure recurring customer concerns are addressed with the relevant departments at every stage of the customer lifecycle.

When one airline discovered it was difficult for frequent flyers to find other available travel dates when their original dates were unavailable, the organization used data and journey mapping to pinpoint these frustrations and the context behind them. By addressing this friction point, the airline was able to successfully increase its NPS. A customer journey mapping process that is driven by data and actionable insights is critical to achieving real customer experience improvements.

3. Close the loop with promoters as well as detractors

If you want to increase your customer’s experience with your brand, it makes sense to connect with them on a human level. Ignoring your customers is a great way to lose them, just as responding to enquiries and feedback promptly results in increased loyalty.

To understand the problems your customers are facing and prevent them from continually happening, contact the individuals that brought them up and ask a simple question: “How could we have done better?”. Keep in mind that promoters may also express concerns or alert you to problems with your product or service - don't forget to close the loop with this segment to ensure they don't eventually become a detractor because you've been ignoring them!

Read more: Is sentiment an appropriate measure of customer experience?

It has been suggested that around 50% of your organization’s detractors (those that score you 6 or below on your NPS survey) are likely to churn within the next 90 days. This demonstrates the importance of closing the loop, where you have the opportunity to make improvements to your product or service and hopefully turn these customers into promoters, or at least passives. When closing the loop, keep your communications simple and honest. Avoid ambiguities and don’t shy away from your mistakes. Take ownership of them and keep your customer informed on how you’re improving. This will leave them feeling involved in the process and highlight your willingness to not just listen to their concerns, but act on them as well.

4. Understand the 'why'

Don’t ignore the feedback from individuals who score you poorly in the hope their issues will rectify themselves. Ensure that your NPS survey includes free text fields asking why the respondent gave you that score. You can then analyze your customers answers to your ‘why’ question using a tool like Kapiche to find recurring themes and understand the context around them. This can highlight poorly performing systems and processes, allowing you to efficiently allocate resources to remedy them. If you take nothing but this away from this article, then you’re still well ahead of the game.

Knowing the why should form the foundation for all your customer experience decisions moving forward. Tracking this over time will allow you to quantitatively measure the performance of your  business decisions and CX initiatives. If you continually see the same concerns arise, you can place further emphasis and resources to correct these issues. This, more than anything else, will help boost your NPS.

Organizations that are serious about improving their customer experience will use their customer feedback as a way to stimulate an organizational shift: by sharing these insights with the relevant department leaders, you are enabling the right people within your organization to make conscious decisions and the necessary changes to prevent the same issues happening over and over again and ultimately improve customer satisfaction.

Getting a below industry-average NPS is not the end for your business. Frame it as impetus change within the organization and you can start to build real relationships with your customers. Focus on the ‘why’ part of your survey results to find the recurring themes and drive effort into these areas. Remember, improving customer experience is all about listening and as your customer experience improves, so too will your NPS.