Net Promoter Score vs. Customer Satisfaction

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a widely used market research metric that companies use to gauge the loyalty of their customer relationships. It’s a straightforward tool that measures customer experience and predicts business growth.

The concept of NPS was introduced by Fred Reichheld in a 2003 Harvard Business Review article.

NPS is designed to measure the likelihood of customers to recommend a company, product, or service to others. It’s used as a proxy for gauging the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand.

NPS is based on a single survey question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend [company/product/service] to a friend or colleague?”

Respondents are grouped into three categories:

    1. Promoters (score 9-10): Loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
    2. Passives (score 7-8): Satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
    3. Detractors (score 0-6): Unhappy customers who can damage the brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are Detractors from the percentage of customers who are Promoters. So, the NPS formula is:

  • NPS = % Promoters – % Detractors

NPS can range from -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to 100 (if every customer is a Promoter).

Examples of Calculating Net Promoter Scores

Let’s calculate two example NPS scores – one with a positive score and one with a negative score. For simplicity, let’s assume we have 100 responses in each case.

Example 1: Positive NPS Score

  • Promoters: 60 responses (60%)
  • Passives: 30 responses (30%)
  • Detractors: 10 responses (10%)

The NPS for the first example is 50 = Promoters 60 responses (60%) LESS Detractors: 10 responses (10%)

This indicates a more positive customer sentiment, as the number of promoters substantially outweighs the detractors.

Example 2: Negative NPS Score

  • Promoters: 20 responses (20%)
  • Passives: 30 responses (30%)
  • Detractors: 50 responses (50%)

The NPS for this 2nd example is -30 = Promoters 20 responses (20%) LESS Detractors: 50 responses (50%)

This score reflects a negative customer sentiment, where detractors outnumber promoters – which is not good!

The Advantages of NPS

  • NPS is used as a quick and efficient way to get a pulse on customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • High NPS scores are often associated with strong and loyal customer bases, which are indicative of future business growth.
  • It allows companies to benchmark their customer satisfaction against competitors and industry standards.
  • The simplicity of the NPS survey makes it easy for customers to respond and for companies to interpret.
  • Its widespread adoption allows for benchmarking across industries.
  • NPS can highlight areas for improvement and help companies focus on strategies to convert detractors into promoters.

The Limitations of NPS

  • NPS doesn’t provide specific feedback on what to improve or how to address customer concerns.
  • Response patterns may vary in different cultural contexts, potentially skewing the score.
  • Focusing primarily on Promoters can lead to a neglect of Passives who might be significant in number and also valuable.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

Customer Satisfaction, often shortened to “CSAT”, is one of the easiest ways to find out just how happy your customers are with your products or services. The primary aim is to gauge the degree to which a customer is happy with what they purchased or their experience with the company.

Most commonly, it’s measured by a short, direct question such as, “How satisfied were you with your purchase?”

The question is usually followed by a rating scale. Commonly, this scale ranges from 1 (very unsatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied), though some companies use different scales like 1-3, 1-7, or 1-10.

The CSAT score is calculated by taking the sum of positive responses (usually those who selected 4-5 or the equivalent in higher scales) and dividing it by the total number of responses, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.

The Two Method of Calculating CSat Scores

There are different methods to calculate CSAT:

  1. Using the “Top 2 Box” method (counting only the top two ratings) and
  2. Using the average of all responses.

Example: Top 2 Box Method

  • Survey Scale: 1-5
  • Total Responses: 100
  • Responses Rating 4: 40
  • Responses Rating 5: 30
  • Other Responses (1-3): 30

The CSAT score is 70.

This method counts only the responses with the top two ratings (4 and 5). Here, 70% of the respondents gave one of these two ratings, indicating a high level of satisfaction.

Example: Average of All Responses

  • Survey Scale: 1-5
  • Total Responses: 100
  • Responses Rating 1: 10
  • Responses Rating 2: 20
  • Responses Rating 3: 30
  • Responses Rating 4: 25
  • Responses Rating 5: 15

The CSAT score is 3.15/5.00.

This method averages all responses on the 1-5 scale. A score of 3.15 suggests a moderate level of overall satisfaction among the respondents. ​

The Advantages of CSAT

  • CSAT is straightforward and easy for customers to understand and respond to.
  • It provides immediate insights into customer satisfaction, allowing for quick adjustments and improvements.
  • It can be applied across various touchpoints and experiences, but is best used for understanding immediate customer sentiment after an interaction, purchase, or experience.
  • It can be used to assess satisfaction with specific aspects of a product or service.

The Limitations of CSAT

  • Satisfaction is subjective and can be influenced by external factors unrelated to the product or service.
  • CSAT scores are not always predictive of long-term customer behavior like loyalty or repeat purchases.
  • The score doesn’t provide deep insights into the reasons behind satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

NPS and CSAT: Which is Better?

Depends on Business Objectives

If the goal is to gauge and improve immediate customer experiences or specific touchpoints, CSAT is more appropriate. If the focus is on measuring and increasing overall customer loyalty and advocacy, NPS is better suited.

Industry and Context Matters

In some industries or contexts, one metric might be more informative than the other. For instance, in high-involvement products or services (like education or healthcare), long-term loyalty (NPS) might be more crucial than immediate satisfaction (CSAT).

Overall or One-off?

NPS aims at the general sentiment around the brand or product. CSAT, on the other hand, is more granular in its approach, focusing on distinct interactions or specific aspects of the product or service.

Long-term vs Short-term

NPS also takes into account long-term brand loyalty by identifying Promoters or Detractors. CSAT, on the contrary, sticks to short-term satisfaction derived from immediate interactions or transactions.

Using Both???

Many businesses find value in using both NPS and CSAT in tandem. While NPS provides a high-level view of customer loyalty and brand health, CSAT offers detailed insights into specific areas of the customer experience. Together, they can provide a comprehensive picture of both short-term satisfaction and long-term loyalty.

Here’s a comparison to help determine which might be better in various scenarios:

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

  • Purpose: Measures customer loyalty and the likelihood of customers to recommend a company, product, or service to others.
  • Focus: Long-term perception of the brand or company as a whole.
  • Advantages:
    • Predictive of growth and long-term success.
    • Standardized, allowing for benchmarking against other companies.
    • Simple and easy to understand.
  • Limitations:
    • Doesn’t provide detailed information on what to improve.
    • Less effective for immediate or transaction-specific feedback.
  • Best Used For:
    • Measuring overall brand health and customer loyalty.
    • Strategic planning and long-term relationship tracking.
    • High-level insights into customer advocacy.

Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

  • Purpose: Measures immediate customer satisfaction with a product, service, or specific interaction.
  • Focus: Short-term evaluation of specific transactions or interactions.
  • Advantages:
    • Provides immediate feedback on customer experiences.
    • Can be tailored to specific aspects of a service or product.
    • Good for identifying issues or successes in specific areas.
  • Limitations:
    • Subjective and influenced by recent experiences.
    • Not always indicative of long-term customer behavior or loyalty.
  • Best Used For:
    • Immediate post-interaction feedback (like after a support call or product purchase).
    • Assessing satisfaction with specific aspects of a product or service.
    • Operational improvements and immediate service recovery actions.

An image showing a person holding a satisfaction survey clipboard with a happy face on it, representing customer satisfaction measurement.

How Do NPS and CSAT Complement Each Other?

Despite their differences, NPS and CSAT complement one another significantly. In a well-rounded marketing strategy, both play significant roles:

360° View of Customer Sentiment: NPS provides an overarching view of brand sentiment and customer loyalty, while CSAT dives into specific customer encounters. Used together, they offer both a macro and micro understanding of customer sentiment.

Identifying Trends Over Time: Fluctuations in NPS and CSAT can reveal trends over time and shed light on how changes in products, services, or policies affect customer sentiment.

Balanced Perspective: CSAT helps keep a check on satisfaction levels post every interaction or transaction, while NPS helps gauge long-term customer loyalty.

Example of Using NPS and CSAT

Let’s consider a fictional firm, “TechBright Solutions,” that specializes in providing cloud-based software solutions for businesses. TechBright has recently conducted customer surveys to measure their Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT).

Here’s how they might use their NPS and CSAT results:

NPS Survey Results:

  • Promoters: 45%
  • Passives: 35%
  • Detractors: 20%
  • NPS = 25

NPS Insight: A positive NPS (25%) indicates a healthy number of loyal customers (Promoters) but also reveals a significant portion of Detractors (20%). This suggests while many customers are satisfied, there’s a substantial group who are not and might discourage others from using TechBright’s services.

CSAT Survey Results:

  • Average Score: 3.8/5

CSAT Insight: An average CSAT score of 3.8 suggests overall satisfaction is good, but there’s room for improvement, especially in delighting customers to the level of highest satisfaction (ratings of 5).

Required Strategic Actions

Undertake Further Analysis

  • TechBright should analyze the feedback from Detractors to understand common pain points, such as product features, customer service, or pricing.
  • Conduct follow-up interviews or focus groups with some Detractors to gain more insights.

Enhance Customer Experience for Passives

  • Investigate why Passive customers are not fully satisfied.
  • Implement strategies like personalized communications, special offers, or loyalty programs to convert them into Promoters.

Leverage Promoters

  • Encourage Promoters to spread the word through referral programs or testimonials.
    Engage with them for case studies or user-generated content to attract new customers.

Address CSAT Specific Issues

  • For areas with lower satisfaction (ratings of 1-3), identify specific issues. Is it the user interface, technical support, or something else?
  • Prioritize improvements in these areas to increase overall satisfaction.

Continuous Improvement

  • Implement changes based on feedback and continuously monitor NPS and CSAT to assess impact.
  • Regularly update customers about improvements made based on their feedback to show that their opinions are valued and acted upon.

Employee Training and Incentivization

  • Train customer-facing staff to enhance customer service skills.
  • Set up incentive programs for employees to improve customer satisfaction and NPS.

Product and Service Innovation

  • Use positive feedback to understand what customers love about TechBright’s services and double down on these areas.
  • Innovate and improve product features or service offerings based on customer suggestions and pain points.


What is NPS, and why is it important?

NPS stands for Net Promoter Score, a metric used to measure customer loyalty and gauge overall customer satisfaction. It’s important because it helps businesses understand how likely their customers are to recommend their products or services to others.

How is NPS calculated?

NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors (customers who wouldn’t recommend your business) from the percentage of promoters (customers who would recommend your business).

What is a good NPS score?

A good NPS score varies by industry, but generally, a score above 30 is considered decent, while a score above 70 is excellent.

How can I improve my NPS score?

To improve your NPS score, focus on addressing the concerns of detractors, delivering excellent customer service, and continuously seeking feedback from customers.

Is NPS the only metric I should use to measure customer satisfaction?

No, NPS should be used in conjunction with other customer satisfaction metrics like CSAT and customer feedback to get a more comprehensive view of your customers’ experience.

What is CSAT, and how is it measured?

CSAT, or Customer Satisfaction Score, is a metric that measures customer satisfaction with a specific interaction or experience. It is typically measured by asking customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale, often from 1 to 5 or 1 to 7.

What is a good CSAT score?

A good CSAT score usually falls in the range of 4 to 5 (or 80% to 100%) on a 5-point scale. However, the specific benchmark may vary by industry.

How often should I send CSAT surveys to customers?

The frequency of CSAT surveys depends on your business and the nature of your interactions with customers. Some businesses send CSAT surveys after every interaction, while others do it periodically.

What should I do with CSAT feedback?

Act on CSAT feedback by analyzing it for trends and areas of improvement. Use the feedback to make necessary changes and enhance the customer experience.

Can I use CSAT to measure long-term customer loyalty?

While CSAT is excellent for measuring short-term satisfaction, it may not provide insights into long-term loyalty as effectively as NPS. Combining both CSAT and NPS can give you a more comprehensive view.

Are NPS and CSAT surveys anonymous?

It depends on how you structure your surveys. They can be designed to be anonymous or include an option for customers to provide their contact information.

Can NPS and CSAT be used for both products and services?

Yes, NPS and CSAT can be used to measure satisfaction and loyalty for both products and services, as well as interactions at various touchpoints.

What is the ideal response rate for NPS and CSAT surveys?

A higher response rate is generally better, but there is no fixed ideal rate. Aim for a sample size that provides statistically significant insights.

How can I ensure my NPS and CSAT surveys are unbiased?

To reduce bias, use neutral language in your survey questions, randomize question order, and avoid leading questions that may influence responses.

Should I share NPS and CSAT scores with customers?

You can share NPS and CSAT scores with customers, especially if they are positive. It can build trust and show your commitment to customer satisfaction. However, handle negative scores discreetly and focus on resolving issues.

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