Rob Markey Q&A: The Value of NPS and Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Rob Markey is an expert in customer service strategies, customer and employee loyalty, and new product development. As a partner at Bain & Company, he helps businesses understand the value of the Net Promoter System, a methodology for connecting employees to customer feedback, as well as the Net Promoter Score (NPS), a methodology for measuring customer loyalty.

QuickTapSurvey is thrilled to have had the chance to chat with Markey regarding best-practices for customer feedback surveys and how businesses can successfully use NPS. Read below for our Q&A with Markey. We hope you find his views as insightful as we do.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Q: What are the challenges companies face in collecting customer feedback using surveys?

First, companies are often tempted to ask the customer every conceivable question and quantify every conceivable response about their experience. Usually this is done under the guise of “we need the survey results to be to actionable.” It’s far better to ask customers as little as possible. Super long surveys kill the respondent’s desire to give you feedback. You might get a wave of customers who respond once, but no one will ever take that survey again. The second problem is when companies treat their customer satisfaction surveys like market research. Don’t call it a survey. Don’t make it impersonal. Don’t ask questions that you should actually know the answers to but didn’t take the time and effort to dig up yourself. In short, don’t waste your customers’ time.

Q: Can you explain Net Promoter Score (NPS) and how it relates to customer satisfaction surveys?

When you are surveying a customer immediately after an interaction with them there is a four question progression that Bain & Company uses to help improve the quality of the feedback and allows you to operationalize the survey data. We’re not talking about a survey primarily for quantitative purposes, we’re talking about a feedback mechanism. The feedback mechanism needs to be immediate, exceptionally easy for the customer and needs to yield the kind of information that will help your employees learn and figure out how to improve your business.

The four NPS questions are:

1) How likely would you be to recommend this company or product to a friend or relative?
2) To what extent did this particular store visit or phone call increase or decrease your likelihood to recommend?
3) Why?
4) What could we do better?

If you absolutely need to, you can have an opt-out question which states something like “I prefer not to be contacted for follow-up.” But the default should be that the customer can be contacted.

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Q: Is there an ideal number of survey questions that you would recommend?

Yes, for touchpoint feedback, the previously mentioned four questions. If you ask a 5th, then why not ask a 6th? And if you ask a 6th, then why not a 7th? It’s a slippery slope. The marginal argument for one more question is always a good one. But the total impact on the customer is negative and you have to think about the cumulative impact of putting more cognitive burden on customers every time you ask for feedback.

Q: What is the objective of a customer satisfaction survey?

Your objectives should be to 1) learn 2) enhance the relationship with your customers and 3) inspire your employees. Anything that violates those three objectives is either wasteful or wrong. Employees want to know that they are advancing some higher purpose, not just executing a repetitive task. Give them feedback that links what they are doing day-to-day to the ways in which they make their customers’ lives better. Show them evidence that they are succeeding and give them a simple way to know when they are not. One of the reasons NPS is successful is because of the simplicity of the promoter, passive and detractor classifications. It is quickly and easily understood by all employees and it is a powerful motivator.

Q: What is the economic benefit to a company for having a high NPS?

If you use a high-quality competitive benchmark Net Promoter Score, using the exact same methodology as those of your competitors, you’ll get an understanding of your relative performance. A company that is an NPS leader in its industry — the one with the highest competitive benchmark Net Promoter Score — grows on average two and half times as fast as the rest of its market. It has a roughly 15 percent cost advantage. This data is based on Bain analysis of dozens of industries and hundreds of companies all around the world.

Rob Markey’s collection of survey templates from the world’s best brands.

Q: If someone were to say to you that NPS is just one question among a slew of equally beneficial customer feedback questions, what would your response be?

The “likelihood to recommend” question is the best single question we’ve been able to find for meeting all three objectives (learning, enhancing customer relationships and inspiring employees), but if what you are looking for is an analytically superior way to understand the loyalty of your customers, then ask more questions. The only reason to use NPS is for the system, the ability to close the loop with customers and employees, and the opportunity to learn faster.




Shereen Dindar
Shereen Dindar was a Content Manager at QuickTapSurvey in 2015 and 2016. Have a story idea? Email us at