The Net Promoter Score (NPS) framework is a simple way to gauge customer loyalty and brand sentiment. Calculating your company’s NPS gives you a powerful metric that your entire organization can rally around, from Operations and Customer Success to Product and Marketing.
When used to its full potential, your NPS is a catalyst for making more customer-centric business decisions and improving user experience. And all it takes is one simple formula.
Doing the Math: How to Calculate Net Promoter Score
NPS starts by asking your existing customers a very simple question: “How likely are you to recommend [product/brand] to a friend or colleague?”
Respondents can answer by choosing a rating from an 11-point scale ranging from 0 (very unlikely) to 10 (extremely likely).
Based on their feedback, respondents are grouped into three categories.
- Customers who answer 9-10 are promoters—your biggest fans and advocates.
- Customers who answer 7-8 are passives—neutral consumers who don’t have a strong emotional connection to your brand but would still buy your products or your services.
- Customers who answer 0-6 are detractors—vocal critics of your brand.
Once you have tallied the number of customers who fall into each category, here’s how to calculate Net Promoter Score: simply subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. NPS is always represented by a whole number on a scale from -100 to 100.
For example, say you’ve received 100 survey responses: 50 promoters, 40 passives, and 10 detractors. Subtract the percentage of detractors (10%) from the percentage of promoters (50%). You end up with an NPS of +40.
Remember, NPS can be negative—if your 100 survey responses were comprised of 10 promoters, 50 passives, and 40 detractors, your NPS would be -30.
Why Are Passives Excluded From Your Net Promoter Score?
It may seem odd to leave your passive respondents out of your NPS calculations. But your passive consumers are just that—passive. They have few or no feelings about your brand. They aren’t talking you up to friends or leaving negative reviews online. Their neutrality doesn’t impact your bottom line (at the moment).
On the other hand, your promoters and detractors are in the driver’s seat. Promoters are your brand ambassadors—you can activate them to help drive growth through online reviews, new customer referrals, or glowing testimonials. Detractors are similarly vocal, but in the opposite way. They are highly critical of your brand (especially on social media and third-party review sites) and may have already abandoned ship. You’ll want to put a lot of effort into saving the relationship…or building safeguards against selling your product to customers who aren’t actually a good fit in the first place.
However, just because you don’t include your percentage of passives to calculate your Net Promoter Score doesn’t mean they aren’t important. On the contrary, passives are full of potential. You aren’t doing anything wrong with passives—you just aren’t doing quite enough to make them love you or despise you. Yet.
Put in a little extra effort with this group of customers, and you may see an outsized upswing in your NPS. Neglect them, and your score could suffer.
What Does Your Net Promoter Score Mean?
Once you calculate your Net Promoter Score, you’ll end up with a number on a scale from -100 to 100. Every industry is unique in what constitutes a “good” score, but the categories generally break down like this:
- Poor, 0 and below: This means a brand has more detractors than promoters. Brands with scores this low struggle with high customer churn and poor public perception of their brand.
- Good, 1–40: Many brands find themselves comfortably in this zone, which means they are meeting customer expectations.
- Great, 41–70: These brands have exceptional customer service and tend to wow their customers consistently.
- World-class, 71–100: These are the brands whose customers demonstrate a cult-like devotion.
Comparing your score to your industry’s NPS benchmarks can be useful as you get started. But in the long run, the most important brand to compare against is your own! Measuring your Net Promoter Score over time helps you understand what your customers value and should inform important business decisions around customer experience, product launches, and process updates.
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