Can the responses to a single item on a questionnaire really provide the detail needed to create and execute effective marketing programs? Can we really understand the drivers of customer satisfaction, brand awareness, profitability or customer retention by focusing on a sole measure? As researchers we often have to respond to urgent pleas by internal and external customers for a single number, despite our training to the contrary.
The Net Promoter Score is a good example. It is easy to administer, easy to understand (even for C-level folks), and has a ton of brand awareness. The Cvent online survey platform includes NPS as a question option. The NPS looks like this:
On a scale of 0 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely) how likely are you to recommend Jose’s Burrito Shack to your family and friends?
The NPS is calculated by subtracting the ‘detractor’ percentage from the ‘promoter’ percentage. There is a sense of simplicity with the single question approach. However, as a single measure it doesn’t provide much in the way of actionable direction. Why are detractors upset with your company, what can be done to move passives up to promoters and what is the most salient reason promoters will recommend your company? These questions require follow up – a single question can leave executives wanting more.
A recent article in Quirks by author Chris Szczepanski raised this issue to a point. He speaks to issues surrounding critical marketing tasks such as the go or no go decision on a new product or advertising campaign. Unless we as researchers present the data in the appropriate light it is easy for executives to become myopic on a single number.
In thinking about questionnaire design, we incorporate variables which can help explain and shed light on the phenomena we have been asked to measure. Myopic focus on a single measure can lead us to accept a decision that may not be in the company’s best interest (e.g. launching a new product that received a passing test score, but may not be considered to be an improvement over existing products).
Ensuring that executives see the picture from multiple angles is the function of our survey data analysis. When a report is created make sure to show different slices of the data in addition to the topline score, e.g. satisfaction for each key market segment. A product may not receive a passing grade overall, but there may be market segments which find the product worthy of consideration. In short, a one variable measure may be short, but it does not provide sufficient detail to make critical decisions.