Net Promoter Score

One metric that you should be borrowing from your social media marketing colleagues is Net Promoter Score (NPS).  NPS is a broad measurement of an audience’s view of an organization or product.  In business it is used to gauge the reputation of a company’s brand or how loyal customers are to a product.  Two things it would be great to understand about your community or your learning and development offerings.

NPS is calculated from the answers to the question, 

“how likely is it that you would recommend [product/brand] to a friend or colleague?”

An 11-point Likert scale is used to enable customers to rate their satisfaction with their experience.Net Promoter Score

Scores are gathered and totaled with answers between 0-6 being labeled distractors, 7-8 labeled passive and 9-10 as promoters.  If you subtract the distractors from the promoters, the result is your NPS.  It reflects the overall satisfaction with, in this case, your community.  The raw number (in the example, -2.7%) is not that valuable.  But by watching the movement of your score over time you can effectively gauge the relative health of your community.

You can also look at the number of promoters vs the number of detractors for insights as well.  Because of the behaviors of promoters, passives, and detractors, the NPS has been shown to be predictive of business growth in three areas. Because they are behavioral, they can be indicative of engagement and loyalty and thus applied to our communities.

Higher Margins and Spend

At first, this may not seem applicable, but let’s parse it out a bit.  If you do have a revenue line (ie, membership fees or products/courses that your members purchase), promoters are less-price sensitive while detractors are price conscious.  Promoters will be more likely to buy more and less likely to complain about the membership fee.

Higher Retention Rate

Detractors defect from an organization or brand at a higher rate than promoters.  Thus membership will drop. Interest in participating in learning activities will suffer.

Greater Word of Mouth

Promoters account for most referrals.  This will lead to more new members and greater retention of more current member.  It’s the promoters who convert Linkers and Lurkers to Learners in our communities.  Detractors are responsible for negative word of mouth which can lead to members leaving the community and overall negativity.

But What Does it Mean?

In my example above, we found an NPS of -2.7.  So what does that mean? In and of itself it honestly doesn’t mean a thing.  NPS is not a fixed measurement. -2.7 could be good or bad, depending on what your NPS has been in the past. 

If our NPS has traditionally been in the +10 to +15 range, then this -2.7 indicates that something negative happened in the last period.  If the NPS rebounds to it’s traditional level, then the event was one that came and went and your members have let it pass.  If however it remains at the lower level, you have a more systemic issue to deal with. 

If on the other hand, your NPS has been in the negatives for a long time, the -2.7 NPS could be indicating that your efforts to improve your community and engage your members and customers is working.

Net Promoter Score is not a silver bullet metric, but it should be in your list of key metrics. It can clearly alert you to whether your members and customers are happy or not. It can help you understand if new engagement initiatives are working. It can sound the alert that something is not sitting right with your members and customers.


Do you think these regulations will change anything? Will they drive greater support for data collection in learning? Motivate more collaboration between the business units and L&D?