In most companies granular measurement isn’t easy. Many different departments may influence a customer’s overall experience and therefore his or her loyalty. For example, an insurance client interacts with the agent, with billing, with claims, and maybe even with underwriting. The trick is to distinguish between a customer’s satisfaction with a specific interaction, such as a call to customer service, and his or her loyalty to the overall relationship. That’s why so many companies rely on both bottom-up and top-down surveys.
Top-down Net Promoter scores, based on surveys of customers’ attitudes toward several competitors in an industry, are designed primarily to show a company’s relative performance and identify aggregate patterns rather than to generate diagnostic insights for individual customers. Companies generally measure these scores through a double-blind process in which the respondent doesn’t know who is sponsoring the survey and the company can’t trace back responses to any individual respondent.
Bottom-up Net Promoter surveys, on the other hand, are openly sponsored by the company, and the company keeps track of who responds. They often take place after particular transactions. Enterprise, for instance, surveys a sample of its customers within a few days of the end of their rentals. In B2B relationships or some consumer relationships with continuous interactions, a bottom-up survey might be triggered by the end of a quarter or on an anniversary date. Some people call these periodic surveys "relationship" or "relational" NPS feedback.
Both are essential. For example, a company might ask a sample of its customers just three questions immediately after a phone interaction: How likely would you be to recommend us to a friend or colleague? To what extent did this recent phone interaction increase or decrease your likelihood to recommend us? and Why? Tracking Net Promoter scores at each interaction enables managers to spot trends or emerging problems; it also helps them identify which departments and individual reps are doing the best job of turning customers into promoters. Perhaps most important, it provides additional input for coaching and decision making by customer-facing employees and groups. On the top-down front, the company can continue to sample its broader customer base, asking the "likelihood to recommend" question and probing why, sometimes supplemented with a few other questions. Ideally, the combination of data will allow managers to summarize results by customer segment, customer profitability and type of inquiry or service problem. It will also help them understand which dimensions of the customer experience warrant investment.
For more on bottom-up and top-down surveys, check out these discussions on the Loyalty Blog: