Customer success is a moving target, and a cunning one at that. And though we know Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) is a key indicator of customer success—especially given its impact on support KPIs like cost to acquire, cost to serve, and annual spend—the question remains:

Are we really getting NPS right?

It’s an important question to ask, because high-effort customers tend to go from passive—or even promoter—to detractor, and winning them back isn’t easy. What if knowledge managers could refocus in a few fundamental areas, boost Net Promoter Score, and improve the customer self-service experience overall?

Net Promoter Score is the difference between the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors

Bad Net Promoter Score? You’re Doing It Wrong

It starts with asking the hard questions—taking an unflinching inventory of the support content experience we’re putting our customers through. Is our current workflow lowering customer effort? Or is it actually lowering effort for ourselves at the expense of the customer?

Here are some common red flags:

  • Siloed content – Sure, that old system of siloed PDF user guides is okay. Heck, some PDFs even rank well on search engine results pages (SERPs). But is that experience serving you or the customer? What happens when a customer opens up one of those PDFs on their smartphone? Why not unlock support content and reduce the effort it takes customers to find what they need?
  • Search reliance – Yeah, I said it: search is overrated. Truth is, searching a knowledge base for support content can be burdensome, not to mention all the tuning and tinkering required on the back end. And if that search experience is bad? Forget about it.
  • Grandma doesn’t understand – If your tech writers can’t explain it so grandma understands, they might be writing content that’s too technical, riddled with jargon, and poorly structured, all of which increases customer effort.
  • Everything and the kitchen sink – Customers don’t want all the content, they just want the content specific to the problem or question they have in that moment. Asking them to navigate through a disorganized amalgam of irrelevant articles means more effort on their part.
  • Repeat offenders – Is your call center receiving a high volume of cases around the same preventable issues? Thing is, customers don’t want to contact support, so if they are calling about issues that they should be able to solve on their own, you might have a problem.

How to Improve NPS with Good Knowledge Management

If we agree that effective self-service is central to good NPS, there are a few things we can do to improve our knowledge management experience.

  • Focus on click navigation – Each time a user clicks to drill down to their specific product and issue, their perceived effort resets to EASY. Good click navigation helps anonymous visitors to your knowledge base find the right content.
  • Make it understandable – Avoid jargon and other language that someone without your intimate product knowledge wouldn’t know. While you’re at it, remember that understandable content is well structured and easily scannable. Consider a content quality checklist for your top support articles.
  • Support calls are gold – Monitoring support metrics such as top case types and the content those customers saw while trying to self-serve can provide valuable insights into where content is working (and where it’s not). Review cases that resulted in negative Net Promoter Scores and look for trends.
  • Don’t get tunnel vision – Net Promoter Score is just one support KPI to consider. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) and customer effort score (CES) are two other ways to measure your customer self-service experience.
  • Ask the right NPS question – When in doubt, “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” is a suitable standard.

Keep It Simple

At the end of the day, if the customer is in control, their perceived level of effort will be low. And that bodes well for your Net Promoter Score.

Perceived control is everything. Think about the creeping dread that precedes a support call. Not only does calling in mean you have to do something (effort), but it means that your life is momentarily out of your control. Who knows how long you’ll be on hold, or if you’ll be transferred to another line?

And how much elevator jazz is too much?

The same goes for a self-service knowledge base. An unwieldy site with hard-to-find content makes it difficult for your visitors to self-solve. But put the customer’s self-service experience in their own hands using the approaches described above and you’ll attract more net promoters to your brand.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter System, Net Promoter Score, NPS and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., Fred Reichheld and Satmetrix Systems, Inc.