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Most NPS surveys are close to worthless: The current state of technology solutions


This is a follow-on to part 1, which you can find here.


Avoid wasting customers’ time and improve results. What solutions already exist? Are they any good?

Since this is a well-known issue, a number of companies have addressed it, at least partially. I see the solution as having four parts:

  1. Technology to improve the response rates where surveys are initiated by email.
  2. Routing solutions, so appropriate people can act on customer complaints or suggestions as quickly as possible.
  3. Automated text analytics in many languages, to remove bias, speed up action and shorten surveys.
  4. A customer feedback mechanism that is as close to real-time as possible.

I don’t pretend I am aware of everything that exists on the market, or is in development. Here is what I believe is the current state of play. Feel free to disagree/educate.


Improving response rates for surveys initiated by email, Digital Alchemy and others have (according to themselves) been able to triple response rates for their clients by embedding the first question in an NPS survey directly in the outbound email. This overcomes reader aversions to clicking on links. Once you select a score, the result is recorded, so at least you get the NPS rating, even if the customer drops out after that. Selecting a response triggers a web page with the remaining questions. The technology used for this type of solution is called “HTML widgets” when it looks pretty, like the aforementioned vendors’ products. Any HTML programmer should be able to make a row of numbers individually clickable. There are limitations to this approach. There is no currently-known way of embedding HTLM forms in an email so that customers can answer all questions in a survey. Outlook, notably, prevents such forms opening. Microsoft insists on InfoPath forms for Outlook, and these are not compatible with some other email clients. 


So even if you can make something that looks like your entire survey appear in an email, you still need to take the reader off to a web page to complete the survey. A secondary challenge is to get the widgets to look okay on a small mobile phone screen. Finally, some companies will have strict email security that disables HTML code. See Rob Markey’s interview with Chad Keck, the CEO of that Fred Reichheld is on the board of Finally, Rob Markey interviewed the CEO of Delighted a couple of weeks ago. Their email approach is similar to the others, and their software is available as an API so that it can be integrated with existing software, such as a CRM system.


Routing solutions

This is where companies like Medallia do a great job. Each survey response needs to drive some sort of action. This is all part of the Enterprise Content Management or workflow software market. In principle, you could make any ECM software do this. I have a natural bias towards HP Process Automation software.


Automated analysis of text responses

There are two types of technology here. But before getting into that, let’s think about why it is needed at all. This would also explain why surveys are usually so long. Before text analysis existed, the general methodology was to:

  1. Ask a customer an overall satisfaction or similar question with a numerical answer.
  2. Ask them to score you on a large variety of dimensions.
  3. Use multiple regression analysis to determine which of the scored dimensions seems to have the most impact on the overall satisfaction question. 

All of this is only necessary because there used to be no reliable way of analyzing text responses. That has changed. There are two broad categories of methods. The first is keyword analysis. The second is conceptual analysis. Both depend on sentiment analysis to work well. Conceptual analysis is much more difficult than keyword analysis. Nothing worthwhile is available as open source code… yet (more on that in part 3). In the old days, people like me would look through text responses, in the languages we could understand, and find our preconceived notions in the answers.


Fast customer feedback mechanism

If you are lucky, you may hear back from a company if you complain a lot. If you are happy, if you make helpful suggestions, you generally hear nothing. I feel answering days or weeks later does not really cut it. How about real time? What if as soon as you answer a survey, you get immediate feedback on all the responses so far, as well as your own input? Yes, it is possible.


To be continued…

Maurice FitzGerald - Customer Experience and Strategy consultant
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About the Author


Maurice FitzGerald ecently retired from his position as VP of Customer Experience for HPE Software after a career in hardware, software and services at DEC, Compaq and HP.

Iklan Gratis

very nice article, thanks

Sewa Mobil Malang

thanks, this is nice article awesome info

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