NPS – Does it work for B2B?

February 24, 2011 at 9:35 AM 3 comments

If you suggested I rename this blog something like NPS News, I couldn’t blame you; I’ve been thinking a lot about NPS lately. Mostly, it’s been about the straightforward advantages of this useful market indicator. But NPS has a fundamental problem too – NPS was designed for a B to C market.

After you’ve rented a car, the agency asks you if you’d recommend their car rental company to a friend. A simple sale, simple process. But nothing about B to B is simple. Both the sales process and the customer experience is complex. Can NPS work in that arena?

If you’re helping a customer rent a car or book a flight, you need to know your product, be helpful, be seen to be getting them a good deal, and solve problems quickly.

In B2B, your relationship touches different types of people. Say you’re selling sophisticated electronic equipment to an organization. You’ll be contacting both the engineer who’s using it and the senior management. Each will have different questions, and different reasons for contacting customer support. The engineer has functionality questions, and needs problems fixed fast. Senior management wants to know if the solution fits their strategy, so they need to be working with people who understand their business. They’re not buying equipment – they’re buying a solution.

So the challenge : how to use NPS in this complex B2B environment? The single NPS question (“would you recommend us …”), is too superficial. Your result would be meaningless, giving you no insight to act on.

Can NPS work in a B2B environment? Sure – but you need to approach it differently. This post is getting a bit long, so I’ll explain how next week.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , .

Your Internal NPS NPS for B2B Continued – Making it Work

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Henry Bruce  |  February 24, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Don’t agree Thompson. I have been using NPS in B2B companies for 2 years and know several others that swear by it. The key NPS question is not superficial at all. In fact, it cuts through all the BS of the so-called cust-sat surveys i have seen over the past 10 years. When you ask anyone if they are extremely satisfied and will “gladly” recommend you to other businesses, human nature kicks in. They either will give you that ringing endorsement or they won’t. It does not matter what level in the company you are dealing with. If also establishes a starting point of who your potentially best advocates are. Now its up to marketing to go out confirm that endorsement and see to what extent they will provide that endorsement in public forums, etc.

    Also, NPS is a survey that can be completed in 30 seconds which ensures a much higher response rate and a better indicator of how your customers feel about you.

    You are right about NPS being originally applied to B2C and can be used for each meaningful transaction (hotel stay, airline flight, car rental). But the same approach can be applied to B2B, but less frequently.

  • 2. Thompson  |  February 24, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Henry, I agree absolutely that NPS is very useful for B2B. In my next post I’ll explain how I recommend employing it. It’s important not just to get the NPS for each facet of the B2B experience, but find out the drivers behind the advocacy or detraction – why would they recommend us, or why not.

    Thank you so much for the comment – Thompson

  • 3. NPS for B2B Continued – Making it Work «  |  February 25, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    […] Last week I posed the question – can Business-to-Business companies use NPS to understand who their advocates are, and how to build customer advocacy? […]


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Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at


"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters



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