An integral part of any customer success program is the online training customers receive on the software. Without it, customers cannot take full advantage of what the product and service offers. Then how does the SaaS company know if the customer is satisfied with the training?
One measure customer success teams can utilize is net promoter score (NPS). In essence, customers rank their willingness to recommend a service or product to a friend or colleague on a scale of 1-10.
Related reading: Drive Your Company Growth With An Online Customer Education Program
Depending on how they respond, customers are usually grouped into three categories:
- Promoters (9-10) are loyal clients.
- Passives (7-8) are somewhat satisfied, but indifferent.
- Detractors (6-0) are definitely unhappy customers. Not only are they likely to churn, they can damage a company’s reputation with bad word-of-mouth.
To calculate NPS, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. The final score can range from +100 to -100. A positive number is generally considered a good NPS.
The connection between NPS and customer training
Experts continue to debate whether NPS is the correct tool by which to measure customer satisfaction with an online training program. For example, elearning consultant and researcher Will Thalheimer argues that NPS is a faulty yard stick of whether the learner has truly absorbed the instruction the training program aimed to instill.
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Asking a learner whether they would recommend a training course to a friend or colleague, he says, doesn’t address the effectiveness of the education. In Thalheimer’s view, NPS functions as an acceptable way to measure customer satisfaction, but not for customer training.
For customer training, outcomes, not satisfaction, is the better benchmark. Learners, he contends, typically misjudge how much they have learned through the program and how much they will retain.
“When we design courses solely so that learners like the courses,” he explains, “we create learning that doesn't stick, that fails to create long-term remembering and that fails to push for on-the-job application.”
On the other side of the debate, in a detailed article in the October 2013 issue of Inside Learning Technologies and Skills magazine, organizational change consultant John R. Mattox reviews numerous scholarly studies and comes to a different conclusion.
He finds a high correlation between NPS and whether the learner perceived the training as a worthwhile investment. “As a stand-alone measure, it is a good predictor of training quality and whether learning occurred,” he writes. Therefore, Mattox endorses a satisfaction query as a benchmark for L&D effectiveness.
If learners perceive they are obtaining new skills they can apply to their jobs, then they’ll likely give the training program satisfactory grades. In that sense, NPS is a good stand-in for evaluating the outcome of a training program, and, he argues, “NPS should be used as an outcome to measure on all post- training evaluations.”
Ask the “why” question
Leaving the debate aside, an effective customer training program can only contribute to an overall positive net promoter score for the product. If the instruction is effective and the customer is using the product more productively, they are more likely to be satisfied and to recommend it to others.
If the NPS score indicates customers are dissatisfied with the learning initiative, then ask the “why” question. Don’t fear negative feedback. Knowing about shortfalls in customer training leads to a better picture of where the training program diverges from its intended purpose.
- Is the program user-friendly?
- Are the courses applicable to the learner’s job duties?
- Are there pain points along the way as the learner progresses through the program?
Whether measuring the entire customer experience or just the online learning program, NPS works best as a starting point. Burrowing into the numbers and reaching out to users reveals a trove of insight that can make your online customer training initiative top-notch.