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In-App NPS: Good idea or bad? (spoiler alert: it's bad)

By Jay Nathan

In the moment, a user’s perception of your company could swing wildly depending on the quality of or ease with which that transaction was executed.

I got a question from an old colleague today about NPS and whether facilitating it within the product is a good idea. My simple answer is “No,” and I’ll explain why.

NPS is about brand loyalty

First, NPS is a measure of brand loyalty not product satisfaction. Consider the following from netpromoter.com:

“Use your NPS as the key measure of your customers’ overall perception of your brand.”

As such, asking the NPS survey question within your product may be a quick way to get a lot of data, but that data will likely contain fundamental flaws.

Product usage is mostly transactional. In the moment, a user’s perception of your company could swing wildly depending on the quality of or ease with which that transaction was executed.

Furthermore, because users are trying to accomplish a task by using your software, chances are high that they will look for the most expedient way to dismiss your survey, even if it means giving an unnecessarily high or low rating (with no comments, of course).

It’s a bad user experience.

Asking for feedback in the midst of your app workflow is an unwelcome and unnecessary context switch for a user who now has to find a way to dismiss your survey.

It’s irritating.

Maybe it’s just me, but how many times have you said “Yes, I’ll give feedback” in the scenario below? I never have.. I usually just leave the site instead of trying to figure out how to bypass this interstitial annoyance.

It’s lazy.

If it’s general product feedback you’re looking for, chances are you should be talking to your users. Watching users use your product live (yes, peering over their shoulder if possible) will provide deep, qualitative insights that a survey simply cannot.

In just a handful of interviews, we can discovery key issues affecting certain classes of users of your solution.

If you want to see how a given feature is performing, you can – and should – take a data-driven approach. Instrument and measure the feature’s usage. It’s not difficult to do. There are several solutions designed to helpgather product usage statistics for this type of analysis.

What users and customers actually do is way more important, and usually different, than what they say they are going to do.

Finally, ask your customer support team what’s happening with users. This is an often-untapped goldmine of insights into issues impacting your product experience.

What about non-users?

In a B2B SaaS scenario, the perception of your brand amongst champions – those individuals who hold the budget that pays for your product – may be more important than that of users.

These people are the ultimate decision-makers, and they may not be users. They consider cost and strategic importance of your company to achieving their own goals.

Users can influence this person, but ultimately their perceptions matter the most. We call this algebraic democracy – some people’s votes count more than others’ and it’s important to know where they stand.

The bottom line

Most companies should be running an NPS program as part of a healthy customer success and voice of the customer program. But embedding it in-app is detrimental in so many different ways that it’s just not worth it.

Published June 19, 2017
About the Author

I've spent my career working in technology companies to build customer-centric teams, processes and technology platforms. In 2017, I founded Customer Imperative, a consulting firm that helps fast-growing B2B SaaS companies improve renewals, increase expansion sales and scale customer engagement. See full bio ›

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