Customer Experience

7 ways to fail at NPS Survey

Oct 10, 2022

9 mins read

Tanuj Diwan

Recently, I received an NPS survey 15 minutes after I bought the product!

I haven’t even used it yet!

I don’t even know how useful it’d be for me! It might be a great product, but I don’t know it yet. 

So, 15 minutes after the purchase is certainly NOT the RIGHT TIME to send an NPS survey!

And there have been many such instances where companies make major mistakes while sending NPS surveys. While everyone talks about what to do when sending an NPS survey, I thought let’s talk about WHAT NOT TO DO!

So one day on Twitter, I asked my fellow CX Leaders in the CXQOTD –

“In your experience, where have you seen the worst NPS survey designs?”

NPS survey designs

Jeremy Watkin, Director of CX and Support at NumberBarn introduced #CXQOTD ( CX question of the day) on Twitter, where he’d ask a CX question every day. CX experts around the world answer that and share their expertise and experience around it.

To know more, all you need to do is follow #CXQOTD.

Several remarkable DONTs were shared and we picked the top 7.

1. NPS is not TRANSACTIONAL. Period.

NPS Survey is not a transactional survey. Don’t treat it like one.

Here’s one of the worst NPS survey examples. (Won’t name the brand here, so let’s take it as ABC.)

I just called ABC’s Support and had a great experience. They sent me an NPS survey and I chose 9.

After 4 days, again I called ABC’s Support and had the worst experience. Now, in the NPS survey, I chose 3. 

Now, what will ABC’s CX team get out of it? And importantly, what is my loyalty towards ABC?

That is why sending an NPS survey after a support interaction isn’t ideal. Instead, send a CSAT or CES question.

→ Know when to send an NPS survey to generate responses!

A similar instance was shared by Aileen Day, CCXP, Value-Driven Brand owner and podcaster, when instead of a CES or CSAT survey, an NPS survey was shared with her.

“I especially enjoyed getting an automated NPS survey via email barely minutes after canceling a telecommunications service due to abhorrent service and even worse support. #CXQOTD

NPS survey is not a transactional survey

2. 20-question survey? – Runnn…

20-question NPS survey?

You don’t need a 20-question survey to get the outcomes you need.

You need a maximum of 2-5 questions.

So before launching a survey, do this –

  1. Prioritize your outcomes. Focus on a single outcome that you need from the results.
  2. Keep the survey short.
  3. Get better results and NPS response rates.
  4. Act on that feedback.

And not just NPS, this goes for all surveys. 

Here’s another one of the worst NPS survey examples.

Dave Seaton, Founder of Seaton CX shared his experience with a car rental company.

“A certain rental car company sent a 20-minute survey to me. They wanted me to NPS everything from my drop-off experience to the agent’s friendliness. And yes, I just used NPS as a verb. There were so many survey questions about the poor agent that I felt like I was writing a performance review. Sadly, it will probably be used that way.”

NPS survey questions

Multiple NPS survey questions for each key driver! This happens a lot. Make it simpler!

Here’s one example of it – 

NPS survey questions

Let’s simplify it.

NPS survey questions

You don’t want to annoy your customer. Instead, keep your survey clean and the messaging clear.

3. There is a thing called the FOLLOW-UP question.

While everyone focuses on quantitative NPS calculation, it’s time to go beyond that! That’s where the gold is. That’s how you’ll improve NPS and boost your customer retention.

→ Improve your Net Promoter Score with NPS text analytics!

The man who needs no introduction, Shep Hyken, shared some really good points about it.

“I’m a big fan of NPS. The bad design also includes execution!

  1. The timing has to be right. When is the survey sent?
  2. I like an extra question, an open-ended question that helps give meaning to the number. Not including that is a missed opportunity.
  3. Use the data. Collecting data isn’t a hobby. Do something with it. 

nps survey best practices

Knowing your customer would or wouldn’t recommend you is not enough. You need to know the WHY behind their answer to improve NPS!

Launch FREE surveys with SurveySensum.


4. SILOS for the win???

You are the ONE for your customer. 

You may be from the marketing, support, customer service or tech team. You may sit in India, Australia, the US, or the UK. But for the customer, you are one brand. And they don’t care about any of this.

All they care about is the product or service you (as a brand) provide to them. 

Julia Ahlfeldt, Customer Experience Strategist and Business Advisor shared one of the worst NPS survey examples on silos.

“A car company had my (under warranty) car in for repairs. It had taken 2 MONTHS to source a part. I had no car during this time, and the sales team had the gall to call me with an NPS survey but refused to accept my response because the score was related to the service team.

Oh, it gets even better. 

2 weeks later (still no car) the salesperson called me to wish me a happy birthday (must’ve had a CRM prompt), totally unaware of the survey call or that my car was still out of commission. Needless to say, I was a little grumpy. Silo disaster of note! #CXQOTD

nps survey best practices

So, create a common channel, maybe slack/CRM or anything where all the team collaborates and engages with the customer as ONE.

5. FLIP scale – NO NO!!

NPS survey questions

Flip scales are reversed NPS survey scales. Instead of 0-10, they show 10-0 scores.

Some brands flip their scales to get BIASED feedback. 

But NPS is not about the numbers. It’s about WHY you got those numbers!

Even if you flip the NPS survey scale and get the majority of promoters and you still don’t act on their feedback, for example potentially creating brand advocates, then this trick may work for you once or twice but not anymore. 

Your customers will stop responding to you and eventually leave you.

Talking about the biased surveys, CX Advisor at Zalando, Anshul Bahl, shared,

“For a leading online fashion retailer in the EU, I recently saw the survey where the NPS scale starts from 10-0, I am very curious why they do this?”

Suggested Read: Expert Advice on the Impact of Color Coding the NPS Scale

NPS survey scales

Here’s an example:

NPS survey questions

10-0 is all about making the NPS biased for people. You will certainly get higher scores! 

And the team that owns the feedback program is on the right path of fooling the management!

Launch FREE surveys with SurveySensum.


6. EXPIRED links – Seriously!!

NPS survey questions

This has happened with everybody once. Even me! 

I had set the expiry date of the survey to 15 days but forgot to mention it in the email. And when customers opened the email, the link wasn’t working! 🙁

Jenny Sue Dempsey, CX Manager at Appeal shared one instance as well.

“I can’t remember the company’s name but once I got an email to take a survey. I clicked on the link and the link didn’t work. That was probably the worst. Oops!”

nps survey best practices

That’s why always recheck your emails before sending them or mention the expiry date in the email.

7. Short and clear NPS surveys will take you places. Promise!

No one likes messy, long, confusing survey emails. 

Keep yourself in your customers’ shoes and imagine someone asking for your feedback like this! 

Would you spend so much time on it?

LeslieO’Flahavan, Owner of E-Write, shares a perfect example!

“Sharing this inbox gem that arrived just in time for today’s #CXQOTD. I don’t even know if this is an #NPS survey, but the invitation to complete it is so bad, I’ll never know.”

NPS survey Examples

In this email,

  • the subject line is not clear
  • 10-15 minutes is too long to spend on a survey
  • her name is not even mentioned!

Instead, make a clear, short, and direct email asking for feedback on the survey containing 2-5 questions that shouldn’t take more than 2-3 minutes. 

And lastly, do this or go home – Close the Loop

Yes, close the loop.

There is no point in collecting all the customer feedback if you are not planning to act on it. 

This annoys the customers the most.

  1. The bad service.
  2. No action on their feedback.

So, always make it a point to take action on their feedback and let them know about it. Always remember, you are on DATE with them. 😉

TIP: Use an efficient NPS software. It’ll help you create different types of NPS surveys and launch them at the right touchpoint and at the right time. Also, the tool helps share alerts to the team when a detractor shares their feedback and analyzes all the feedback. Not only it’ll help you close the loop in time, but it will also help you create an efficient NPS program. Also, the software will also help you with trend analysis, historical trend analysis, and NPS benchmarking.
 Here’s a list of top NPS tools that can help you create an efficient NPS program


Tanuj Diwan

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