Measuring Your School’s NPS® and WOM

We know that word of mouth is the number one way that prospective parents first learn about your school. In order for positive word of mouth to occur, parents must be talking about your school in a positive way.

This is the foundation of your enrollment and marketing plan.

Did you know that there is a way to measure the strength of your word of mouth of the parents in your school?

This measurement is known as the Net Promoter Score (NPS®).

I would like to introduce you to this concept in this blog post.

In 2006, Fred Reichheld, authored his groundbreaking book, The Ultimate Question. Since then, he has written an expanded edition in The Ultimate Question 2.0. For more information, you can check out the Net Promoter Website. In both of these books he discusses the ultimate question.

What is the ultimate question?

On a scale from zero to ten, with ten being the highest, how likely are you to recommend ________________ to a friend or a colleague?

This question is very important to ask since it will reveal whether or not a customer—in your case a parent—is willing to recommend your school to a friend. If they aren’t willing, then the parent is likely dissatisfied and may end up as part of your attrition statistics. However, if they will recommend your school, then they are loyal to your school and satisfied with their experiences.

This ultimate question is a very simple question that gives us a snapshot of the strength of our word of mouth.

How does this question work?

Based on the response, the respondent is placed in one of three categories:

  • Promoters: A score of 9 or 10 is identified as a promoter. According to Reichheld: “People who respond with a nine or a ten are signaling that their lives have been enriched by their relationship with the company. They behave like loyal customers, typically making repeat purchases and giving the company a larger share of their spending. They talk up the company to their friends and colleagues, just as their answer to the question implies.” (Kindle Locations 149-151).
  • Passives: A score of 7 or 8 is identified as a passive. Reichheld says that “People who give the company a seven or an eight got what they paid for, nothing more. They are passively satisfied customers, not loyal ones, and they exhibit a markedly different set of attitudes and behaviors. They make few referrals—and when they do make one, it’s likely to be qualified and unenthusiastic.” (Kindle Locations 155-157).
  • Detractors: A score from 0 to 6 is a detractor. Reichheld says “And then there are the people who give a rating of six or below. Their score indicates that their lives have been diminished by their dealings with the company. They are not a happy crew. They are dissatisfied, disaffected, even dismayed by how they are treated. They bad-mouth the company to their friends and colleagues.” (Kindle Locations 161-162)

The goal is to have a much larger number of your parents as promoters. Promoters are the key to your school’s word of mouth in the community.

Based on the responses and the above categories, you can determine your Net Promoter Score (NPS®). Your score is computed by taking the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. This will give you a score that will range between +100 and -100.

Net Promoter Score (NPS®)= %Promoters – %Detractors

The higher your score, the stronger your school’s word of mouth is in your community. Obviously, the lower the score, the more concerned you should be about your school’s word of mouth.

For example, in all of the schools that I work with I measure their NPS®. I have seen scores as high as 76, which is a great score and indicative of a strong school with strong word of mouth. A couple of years ago I measured the NPS in a school at -3 and this school closed the following year. I always look for a NPS above 50 as this is a level that indicates that word of mouth is strong.

In addition, it is important to ask a follow-up, open-ended question to give the parent an opportunity to provide a reason for their score: What is the reason for your score?

By asking these two questions, you will be able to measure the strength of your word of mouth in the community.

I always ask these questions as part of a longer parent satisfaction survey. However, these questions could and should be asked in a stand-alone survey. The fall (October/November), re-enrollment, and the end of the school year are great times to survey your parents and to ask the ultimate question.

In addition, you could actually track your respondents by using a survey program like Survey Monkey that will allow you to link the responses to your parent email addresses. You will then know which categories your parents fall into—Promoters, Passives or Detractors. By knowing this early on in the school year, you can work with your families individually to deal with their issues of dissatisfaction so that you can move potentially move them to up to a better category.

As you consider your word of mouth marketing strategy and plan this year, it is important to measure your school’s Net Promoter Score. If you are interested in a partner in this effort, please reach out to me to find out more about my Word of Mouth Survey for Schools.

Are you measuring your Net Promoter Score (NPS®) at your school?

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Click to learn more about the Word of Mouth Survey for Schools.