Do They Really, Really Like You?

For decades, companies have been trying to figure out if you like them using various surveys — long and short, direct and not — as the primary tool to get you to talk about your relationship with them. And, for decades, you’ve mostly ignored them, responded sometimes, and largely avoided talking about your relationship.

As with all relationships, there’s one thing that really matters: will they tell their friends about you? Word of mouth is the most powerful promotional tool you’ve got as a company. People who are fans of your product or service — really devoted to you and your company — will put their reputation on the line by sharing you with their colleagues and friends.

Enter the net promoter score (NPS), the simplest measure of satisfaction available. Introduced in 2003, NPS is quite simply a ratio of people who would recommend you to someone they know versus those who wouldn’t, based on the answer to a single question: How likely are you to recommend this to your colleagues or friends? At Wealthfront, we’re big fans of being direct and getting right down to it, so you know this clicked with us immediately.

Gathering the data is really easy: ask people to answer your question on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is “not at all likely” and 5 is “extremely likely.” The top 20% (the 5s) are your active promoters; the next 20% (the 4s) are passive but satisfied, unlikely to recommend but they’ll say good things if asked; and the rest are detractors who not only won’t risk their reputation by recommending you to others, they’ll probably give at best luke-warm reviews when asked. You could use a scale from 1-10 or even 1-100; since the metric divides into quintiles, we think the nuance offered by larger scales is lost and that a larger scale risks paralyzing them with too many choices in the name of false precision.

Let’s apply this to a practical, if somewhat absurdist, example: the annual deluge of April Fools’ Day pages on teh internets. Our own John Hitchings made an April Fools’ Ranking app (now closed) to collect some pages and votes. Let’s look at data for the 45 pages submitted:

Page score(1) score(2) score(3) score(4) score(5)
AdBlock: Inturdusing CatBlock 0 0 9 0 12
Box.net: Discover a New Dimension of Collaboration 0 1 0 0 16
ByteScout Socks Reader Beta 1 0 1 13 0
Introducing reddit timeline 0 1 9 0 30
Introducing the Roku Shake Remote 1 1 1 8 22
Collective Idea: Walken on Rails 0 1 10 0 53
CNET UK: Pirate Bay to launch own sub 1 0 0 9 17
Sony USA: The VAIO Q, World’s Smallest Ultrabook 1 1 0 22 12
Google App Engine: Cloud API App 10 1 1 1 0
Google Australia: Google Street Roo 0 0 0 11 1
Google Racing 0 1 0 43 16
Google App Engine Blog: Cloud API 1 12 1 0 0
Google Voice expands to new markets 0 1 0 16 0
MailBait: Fill Your INBOX 0 0 14 8 21
Google Maps 0 0 0 8 77
CNet News: Google Tap tries […] Gmail a la Morse code 1 0 1 12 1
Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters 1 0 7 10 1
TechCrunch: Foxconn Plans New Iowa Plant 12 1 1 0 1
TechCrunch: Google’s Sergey Brin To Retire 8 0 0 1 12
Introducing Shapes by Toshiba 0 12 0 10 1
Google AdWords: Click-to-Teleport 0 0 1 13 1
Google Apps for Biz: Jargon-Bot 1 0 0 12 1
Google Fiber & Kansas City 1 0 10 1 0
Google Racing 1 0 6 10 1
KODAK: Print Kittens At Home 0 0 0 12 18
Bunker LDLC 0 21 1 1 12
MapsTD 0 1 0 0 22
PashionSense.com, Fashionably lonely? 7 1 9 1 17
Mind-boggling XKCD April Fools comic 0 1 0 1 20
ThinkGeek: Star Trek Inflatable Captain’s Chair 1 0 1 9 20
ThinkGeek: Minecraft Marshmallow Creeps 1 0 10 1 0
ThinkGeek: Skyrim Electronic Dragon Shout Hoodie 0 0 1 0 10
ThinkGeek: Star Wars Admiral Ackbar Singing Bass 0 1 0 10 21
ThinkGeek: Technomancer Digital Wizard Hoodie 0 1 1 12 0
ThinkGeek: Keurig K-cup 5-Star Meals 1 1 1 10 1
ThinkGeek: Barbie Digital Fashion Styling Head for iPad 7 0 1 0 1
ThinkGeek: Electronic Hungry Hungry Hippos for iPad 0 0 0 20 1
ThinkGeek: Game of Thrones Fire and Blood Perfume 1 0 0 14 16
Twilio Telegram API 10 1 0 1 22
Ubuntu Eyewear 0 0 12 0 15
Virgin Volcanic: Journeys to the centre of the Earth 1 1 7 9 23
The YouTube Collection 1 11 1 21 30
Bitbucket – Spooning 0 0 0 12 10
What is Skype for String? 0 0 1 12 30
Chrome Multitask Mode 1 0 0 10 10

Calculating NPS is as straightforward as the question itself. Just subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters (both as compared to total respondents).


Let’s see how our merry pranksters did. Here’s the top 10:

Page Promoters Detractors Count NPS
MapsTD 22 1 23 91.30
Google Maps 77 0 85 90.59
Box.net: Discover a New Dimension of Collaboration 16 1 17 88.24
Mind-boggling XKCD April Fools comic 20 1 22 86.36
ThinkGeek: Skyrim Electronic Dragon Shout Hoodie 10 1 11 81.82
What is Skype for String? 30 1 43 67.44
Collective Idea: Walken on Rails 53 11 64 65.62
ThinkGeek: Star Wars Admiral Ackbar Singing Bass 21 1 32 62.50
KODAK: Print Kittens At Home 18 0 30 60.00
CNET UK: Pirate Bay to launch own sub 17 1 27 59.26

And the bottom 10:

Page Promoters Detractors Count NPS
Bunker LDLC 12 22 35 -28.57
Google Racing 1 7 18 -33.33
Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters 1 8 19 -36.84
Introducing Shapes by Toshiba 1 12 23 -47.83
ThinkGeek: Barbie Digital Fashion Styling Head for iPad 1 8 9 -77.78
TechCrunch: Foxconn Plans New Iowa Plant 1 14 15 -86.67
ThinkGeek: Minecraft Marshmallow Creeps 0 11 12 -91.67
Google Fiber & Kansas City 0 11 12 -91.67
Google App Engine: Cloud API App 0 12 13 -92.31
Google App Engine Blog: Cloud API 0 14 14 -100.00

NPS can range from -100 (no one would tell a soul) to +100 (everyone can’t wait to post it on their wall). Ranking above 30% is good; ranking above 75-80% is exceptional. And, of course, negative scores mean you may want to reconsider your hygiene regimen.

So there you have it. Now, go get undeniable proof that they like you, because they really, really do.

Posted in fun