Avatar

8 NPS Survey Best Practices for SaaS

Written by Moritz Dausinger, CEO of Refiner

This is a complete list of NPS survey best practices for SaaS.

Learn when and how often to send NPS surveys, how to increase the response rate, and evaluate customer loyalty better.  

Let’s make one thing clear: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to NPS. That said, there are many best practices relating to when to send an NPS survey and how often you should send them to increase the campaign’s success rate. 

The good news – We cover them all in this guide.

In this guide, you’ll discover the dos and don’ts of asking for the Net Promoter Score (NPS). You’ll also learn when to send the survey, how often, what NPS questions to ask, and what to do with the customer feedback you’ll receive. 

To finish things up, we’ll look at four NPS case studies. Those case studies will give you an idea about how other SaaS companies are using NPS to gain traction and scale up their business.

So, let’s begin.

What is NPS – A Quick Recap

NPS is a simple survey you send to customers to evaluate their loyalty and likelihood of recommending your product or company to others.

The core of NPS is a simple survey question. In its most common form, it looks like this:

“How likely are you to recommend [PRODUCT or SERVICE] to a friend or colleague?”

Customers answer by using a rating scale of 0-10.

Based on those answers, you can identify three types of customers in your user base:

  • Promoters – Loyal customers who’d be more than willing to recommend you to others.
  • Passives – Satisfied customers, although not as eager to recommend you.
  • Detractors – Customers who are so dissatisfied that they wouldn’t mind leaving negative feedback for you and damaging your reputation.

The NPS data will give you a glimpse into how customers perceive your brand.

But simple as NPS might seem, many companies struggle with running NPS surveys.

The Most Common Mistakes with NPS surveys

Let’s start with the most common mistake SaaS owners make when asking for the net promoter score.

The NPS survey evaluates customer loyalty and asks them how likely they would be to recommend a business to a friend, on a scale from 0 to 10.

NPS survey best practices example.

This score measures the potential action, and it’s based on an interaction that the customer had with your brand at that moment or very recently.

Imagine that a customer registers for your tool today and uses it a couple of times during the free trial. On the 3rd day, so very early during the trial, you send an NPS survey to see how likely they are to help with word of mouth.

The user may choose a high NPS value, but you may discover that he’s not interested in paying once the trial ends. They may also not be interested in recommending you to anyone since he doesn’t think the tool is worth paying for.

So yes, the NPS of this customer was good, but there’s no guarantee that he will recommend your product to anyone.

In other words, you should not use the NPS score as an indicator of the product/market fit or customer satisfaction – not on its own.

How NPS Surveys Boost SaaS Growth

According to Fortune, two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 companies use the Net Promoter Score as a measure of customer sentiment. Yet, used on its own, the NPS score can be misleading, as it cannot predict loyalty behavior.

So you should look at this metrics not as your North Star or OMTM (One Metric That Matters), but as one of the levers that you can pull in order to fuel your business’ growth.

For a SaaS tool to gain traction and see significant growth in a short time, a couple of things need to happen at the same time:

  • there must be a real problem that the tool solves
  • users must see the tool as a viable solution for the problem
  • the tool itself has to offer a great user experience
  • users must experience the value of the product early on during onboarding
  • the product has to offer something that users can’t get anywhere else
  • the tool must make users’s life easier on a continuous basis

So in order to estimate the growth potential of your business, you should look at the big picture and consider these metrics along with the net promoter score:

  • CSAT – Customer satisfaction score, which tells you how happy a user is with your tool.
  • Churn rate – This metric shows you how many users abandon your product.
  • Retention rate – This metric is a measure of user satisfaction, as it shows you the user stickiness.
  • CLV – Customer lifetime value, which helps you understand how much your company earns from a single customer.
  • CES – Customer effort score, which measures the customer service satisfaction.

NPS Survey Best Practices

1. NPS Frequency – When and How Often to Send NPS Surveys?

The ideal frequency for NPS surveys depends on the type of questionnaire you’re sending:

  • Relationship NPS – this measures the overall satisfaction of your customers
  • Transactional NPS – this measures the satisfaction after a specific event

Your industry and business model also matter, so we won’t try to cover all scenarios here. Instead, we’ll focus on SaaS businesses.

NOTE: These are not absolute recommendations, they’re based on our observations and industry benchmarks.

Example of setting up NPS sending frequency to specify when to send NPS surveys.
Example of detailed targeting and triggering options for NPS surveys

When to send relationship NPS surveys

NPS best practices for sending relationship surveys are as follows:

  • 3-5 days after the free trial, for SaaS businesses on a free trial model. Send this survey only to users who have cancelled the trial or haven’t upgraded to the paid version.
  • 15-20 days after the initial conversion, for SaaS businesses with monthly billing cycles. Send these surveys to users who have upgraded from a free trial, or who have signed up for the paid version, if you have a freemium SaaS tool.
  • Every 3, 6 or 12 months, to continuously measure the loyalty and satisfaction of your users, regardless of your business model.
  • 3-5 days after launching a new core feature, a redesign or a pivot.

Don’t overwhelm your users with too many relationship surveys if nothing changes in the big picture of your product.

However, if you’re planning a significant change like a redesign or a pivot, measuring the net promoter score before and after the change is a must.

When to send transactional NPS surveys

For transactional NPS surveys, the best timing is after every meaningful transaction. This doesn’t apply only to e-commerce companies, where transactions are the actual purchases.

In SaaS businesses, any meaningful interaction can be considered a transaction, whether it’s a sign up or a chat with your customer support team.

The best timing for sending transactional NPS surveys is:

  • With the order confirmation email or within 1-2 days of placing an order.
  • With the delivery confirmation email – in case of physical goods – or within 1-2 days.
  • 1-2 days after a customer support ticket is solved and closed.
  • 1-2 days after a sales contact.

The key here is to send the surveys very soon after the interaction, when the experience is still fresh in the respondent’s mind.

2. Which Users Should You Survey?

Although relationship NPS surveys can be sent to all customers, it doesn’t always makes sense to do so.

For B2B SaaS products, the end-user may not be the decision-maker, and there might be multiple users under one account. Thus, NPS best practices are as follows:

  • For transactional NPS surveys regarding product features, target the end users.
  • For transactional questions regarding pricing, renewals or sales performance, target the decision makers if they are your contact persons, and the end users otherwise.
  • For NPS surveys evaluating the performance of your customer support team, target the end users if they’re your contact person within the company. Otherwise, target the decision makers.
  • For general relationship NPS surveys, target the end users, unless you’re selling entreprise SaaS software and your single point of contact is the decision maker.

If you’re fixing some bugs or releasing new features that were requested by more users, you can survey only a segment of your customer base. Once you have a general feeling of how the change is perceived, you can roll out additional surveys.

In B2C SaaS products, the end user is the buyer, so all the surveys should be sent to them. For transactional NPS surveys, you can follow the guidelines from the previous point.

As for relationship NPS surveys, avoid sending them to the customers that are already very active and loyal and target mainly the users who have fewer interactions with your brand.

3. How to Ask for the Net Promoter Score?

The most common question used in NPS surveys is: “How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend or colleague?”.

An example of an in-app NPS widget.
Example of an in-app NPS survey widget powered by Refiner

This can be sent to users via email but can be measured inside your product also. With Refiner, for example, you can create onsite and in-app NPS surveys to gather data from more users and paying customers.

While this question is quite standard, your NPS follow-up questions should be customized based on your goal.

If you’re following up with your detractors, you want to learn why they wouldn’t recommend your product, so you can ask questions like:

  • We’d like to know what we can do better. Do you have a couple of minutes for a short call?
  • We’re really doing our best to offer our customers a great experience! Could you please let us know which areas of our service were confusing and why?
  • A couple of days ago, you rated our services 5/10 and we’re really sad to know that we disappointed you. Would you mind telling us what happened, and what we can do to fix this?

For promoters, you can follow up with an email asking for a review or a testimonial, since you know that these users are happy with your product.

As for passives, you might want to ask what is missing from your product or if they prefer a competitor and why.

NPS Surveys for Data Driven SaaS Growth Teams?

Turn your SaaS into an automated growth machine with simple & beautiful NPS surveys.

4. Closing the Feedback Loop – What to Do with NPS Survey Scores

As said, NPS survey scores should be interpreted in the context of your customer experience strategy. So here’s what you should do with your net promoter score survey results.

Measure the NPS over time, for each target segment

Tracking the NPS over time for different customer segments or profiles can show you which types of customers are more likely to be loyal to your brand, and which profiles you should aim to attract.

For example, if the net promoter score for users in a certain segment goes down after a redesign or a core feature release, you might want to dig deeper and follow up with surveys to understand what happened.

If the NPS is lower in a segment and improves after a call with your customer support team or after guided onboarding, you might want to offer that to all users who sign up for your product, to start off on the right foot.

Example of a Net Promoter Score Timeline Chart
Example of a Net Promoter Score Timeline Chart

NOTE: With Refiner, you can filter responses by user segment and add your own customer data data, such as user traits or behavioral data. Our tool enables you to analyze all your data in one place, for more informed decisions.

Look for patterns in the feedback you receive

Like in the AirBnB example, you should look for patterns and try to find those parameters, attributes or features that are linked with higher or lower NPS scores.

For example, if your NPS survey results show that users in the age group 25-35 are mostly promoters, while those in the age group 35-45 are usually passives or detractors, you might want to adjust your messaging to appeal to the former segment.

In the same way, if you notice that customers who are part of larger teams have higher NPS scores than those who are using the tool alone, you might want to target slightly bigger companies.

Follow up on the NPS survey to learn more about the why

As previously said, the net promoter score is more valuable when you analyze it in the context of the whole customer experience, so you shouldn’t stop at gathering the scores.

Instead, you should follow up on the surveys to learn more about the reasons behind your users’ replies. We’ve detailed this topic in another article, where we gave 17 ready-to-use examples of NPS follow-up emails.

When you follow up, you should pay attention to a few things:

  • the contact channel – is there any particular touch point linked with more detractors than promoters?
  • the contact person – is one of your customer support or sales people taking care of most of the detractors or promoters?
  • the product use case – is a particular feature mentioned more often by detractors or promoters?

Instead of trying to learn everything about your customers on your own, reach out to them through NPS follow-up emails or calls.

List of goals for NPS follow-up emails for Promoters
6 goals List of goals for NPS follow-up emails for Promoters (source). Feel free to share!

Analyze the texts in the NPS comments

Some users will tell you why they gave you a certain NPS. Go through all the comments and group them into topic buckets, adding the number of promoters, passives/neutrals and detractors for each topic.

Also, add details like the industry, company size or type, user persona or cohort, to make segmentation easier.

You may notice that detractors mention the site speed as reason for their low net promoter score, or that neutrals say they’d be more satisfied if they could also export the insights your tool helps them gather.

In such cases, you should sit with your product team and prioritize the issues that can be solved faster and could have higher impact on the overall customer satisfaction.

[Bonus] NPS Case Studies – How other companies use NPS surveys

Airbnb

Airbnb uses NPS surveys in the review requests sent to users after their trip ends. The net promoter score is correlated with six subcategories: accuracy, cleanliness, check-in, communication, location, and value.

Their end goal is to measure the likelihood of customers returning and booking again, as well as how likely users are to spread the word about AirBnB to their friends.

Here are some interesting results:

  • promoters who score 10 in the NPS survey are 13% more likely to rebook and 4% more likely to refer a friend within 12 months;
  • guests who don’t leave any review behave the same as detractors, and are less likely to rebook than detractors;
  • guests who leave a review but don’t reply the net promoter score survey behave similar to promoters;

The company is one of the best known examples of unicorns who grew through referrals and word of mouth, so we can assume they’re quite good at interpreting their user survey data!

Knak

Knak segments their users by role – admins and builders – and gathers insights from both groups through NPS surveys. By splitting their user base in this manner, they’re able to determine which of the two experiences is more satisfactory and which aspects of their product require more attention.

SaaStr

SaaStr used NPS surveys to uncover the weak spots in their event planning and doubled their ticket sales by focusing on the issues revealed by the net promoter score surveys.

Groove

Finally, Groove used NPS surveys to find out which customer segments aren’t the best fit for their product and which of their product features are the most loved by passives and promoters.

We hope you’ll find these guidelines and NPS best practices useful!

If you’re not using an NPS survey tool yet, give Refiner a try! It’s easy to install and comes with out-of-the-box survey templates to get you up and running in minutes.

NPS Surveys for Data Driven SaaS Growth Teams?

Turn your SaaS into an automated growth machine with simple & beautiful NPS surveys.