How To Use NPS Feedback To Reduce Customer Effort

Josh Magsam Josh Magsam · 6 min read

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to identify high-effort processes and take action to implement improvements.

Certainly, no one ever wants to learn that customers find it difficult to do business with them. Over the last decade, there’s been a rising awareness of the importance of monitoring customer effort, based on the understanding that customers are most satisfied and most loyal when they find it easy to engage with your product. And it makes sense – when customers are able to accomplish their goals quickly, they’re likely to be much happier and appreciate the value of your product, which is going to boost customer happiness.

But with 87% of customers reporting inconsistent experiences with many brands, it’s clear that high customer effort is still a prominent factor in driving churn. Not only does increasing effort make customers churn, but reducing effort results in revenue gains. A Gartner report highlighted that low-effort transactions can increase repurchase rates by as much as 94%. With that in mind, it’s clear that addressing customer effort pain points is a must for any retention strategy.

Leverage NPS Feedback For Customer Effort Insights

Enter the Customer Effort Survey (CES) score. The goal of a CES program is to identify how easy it is for customers to achieve their goals with your company – in other words, how easy it is for them to simply do business with you. When your goal is to collect focused customer effort data or to map specific CX pain points, a thorough CES feedback campaign is a smart bet. With a flexible platform like Nicereply, it’s also easy to build a powerful CES program that pairs with your existing NPS strategy as well.

But if you’ve already been using NPS to identify actionable insights and seeing positive results, you may wonder whether an in-depth CES strategy is likely to prove helpful. And it’s true that you probably already have a wealth of customer effort data points waiting for you in your NPS results. Feedback from your Detractors, Passives, and Promoters can highlight customer effort pain points and identify immediate retention opportunities.

Even without launching a full CES campaign, it’s possible to use NPS to reduce your overall customer effort and keep customers loyal.

NPS feedbackPress Your Promoters To Uncover Constructive Feedback

Your Promoters are obviously thrilled with your product, and are ready to shout it from the rooftops! By all means, take time to celebrate this – you’ve worked hard to deliver and support an amazing product, and your team deserves every accolade they receive. Be sure to thank your Promoters for their loyalty and let them know you’re ready to continue delivering great product improvements!

However, Promoters are often so enthusiastic they fail to deliver clear or actionable NPS feedback about why they are so thrilled with their experience. Many will simply tell you they are absolutely delighted with your company – and therein lies a potential trap, particularly for customer service teams.

Take Promoters Back To The Beginning To Unlock The Secrets Of Their Success

As a classic study of customer loyalty shows, companies often make the mistake of trying to create a “delightful” customer experience in all the wrong ways. Training support teams to “go above and beyond” for each customer interaction is a bit like telling the accounting team to “account” more – it’s not really a viable directive.

Such vague directions result in well-intentioned but misguided efforts to handle small service matters with great care and attention. If the customer’s goal is to simply complete a purchase on your platform, then directing them to a chat window to speak with one of your friendly support representatives to ensure white-glove service is probably the wrong move. The customer is forced to spend time answering questions and waiting for the support agent to complete manual actions when a streamlined purchase flow would help them complete their transaction and be on their way in a fraction of the time.

The best use of Promoter feedback when analyzing customer effort? Look for the reason they started using your product in the first place. Just like your Detractors, these customers came to you with a problem that needed to be solved – and for them, it was successful. Understanding how they implemented your platform will help you understand what your product is already doing well while highlighting better ways to onboard other customers and alleviate the pain points that lead to a negative experience.

NPS feedback
Prioritize Feedback From Passives For Quick Wins

It’s easy to overlook the value of Passives. The reason for this is deceptively simple. Opinions that fall “in the middle” require more effort to mine for actionable data points. As a result, there’s a marked tendency for decision-makers to ignore middle scores and focus on extreme scores as they create roadmaps for product improvements. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry – you’re not alone. A recent series of studies from Yale suggests that this tendency is actually a cognitive shortcut designed to help us make decisions quickly, particularly when confronted with large or conflicting data sets. In short – it seems logical that more extreme data points mark the boundaries of possibilities.

However, there’s a lot to be learned about customer effort from the NPS feedback left by Passives. In fact, Passives actually have a high tendency to churn very quickly, making them a potentially higher-risk group even than Detractors. That’s mainly because Passives have very little investment in the success of your product, whereas Detractors are likely negative precisely because they care so much.

Maximize Cost Benefits To Retain Passives

Here’s what all that boils down to. The fact that Passives have a low churn threshold underscores that they are value-conscious – they are looking for a product that delivers maximum impact for a minimal investment, including both time and money.

When a particular customer tells you they are considering leaving purely for cost reasons, it pays to be skeptical – if your product is delivering any form of positive value for their organization, then the root cause is more likely to be the amount of effort they spend to use the product. Maybe frequent UX updates are frustrating some stakeholders who are gravitating to a more stable but similarly priced product; or maybe your support system requires them to use a contact channel that disrupts their workflow.

In any case, Passives are telling you that your product is simply not worth their time (literally), and that’s a clear signal that you should reach out to learn more about their feedback. On the flip side, Passives can often be swayed towards re-engagement fairly easily. For example, you may find that a dedicated product training session can shift a critical stakeholder back in your favor.

NPS feedbackDig Deep With Detractors To Identify High Impact Customer Effort Pain Points

No customer comes to your company with the goal of becoming a Detractor. Instead, they had a problem to solve and your product seemed like it would fit the bill. They made a calculated decision to commit their finite resources to your company, with the goal of using your platform to grow their own business. But they haven’t been successful, and now they’re unhappy with the results. As they’re sure to tell you in the NPS feedback survey comments, many of them are thinking of moving on to a different product simply out of frustration.

As a result, it’s absolutely vital that you pay close attention to Detractors. These are potentially passionate customers who cared enough to leave feedback about their experience – it’s important to take time to understand the source of their discontent. That may signal that direct intervention is needed (for example, a team member could reach out to assist with a process flow issue), but more often than not, their feedback indicates that they simply want to solve their own problems.

Act Quickly To Reduce Effort For Detractors

In short, most Detractors are telling you that current product features or service processes are actually introducing roadblocks to their success. This is true even if they just leave a blank score and skip the feedback option altogether – that’s a sure sign that they are reaching a breaking point over the amount of time they have to give to your platform. However, the solution is relatively simple.

Focus on finding ways to remove those roadblocks, and make sure to tell your customers when changes have been implemented. When customers see how their critical feedback led to product improvements, they feel a stronger commitment to your brand and are more likely to become diehard Promoters in the long run.

And above all – thank them for their feedback!


A lot of time and energy is dedicated to making sure customers have a smooth and seamless experience with your brand – so the last thing anyone company wants to hear is that customer effort is high. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to identify high-effort processes and take action to implement improvements that will drive high value and satisfaction for your customers.

By reviewing your NPS feedback from a fresh perspective, you’ll be able to identify actionable data that you can capitalize on quickly for a rapid boost to retention rates, while also laying the foundation for a longer-term CES strategy to form deeply loyal bonds with your customers.

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Josh Magsam Josh Magsam

Josh Magsam is a freelance writer and consultant specializing in customer experience, operations management, and team leadership. When he’s not building support teams or writing content, he enjoys hiking in the Cascades with his wife and young son.

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