At the Fall 2015 NEMRA event, Elizabeth Hassett, a senior customer insights analyst with Vistaprint, discussed how the firm uses the Net Promoter Score to understand its 16 million customers. In its annual report, the company cites the importance of market research.

Did you know? The majority of small businesses in the United States are sole proprietorships. Vistaprint wants to partner with these small businesses to help them market professionally. The company generates over $1.2 billion in annual sales and ships its personalized products to over 100 countries. Vistaprint is part of the holding company Cimpress.

Sales slowed in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, Vistaprint had a vision for delivering “value to customer” and specialized in small print runs embodying mass customization.  Research focuses on NPS, brand perception, customer service satisfaction, site satisfaction, and product quality.

Vistaprint surveys 15% of its customers once they have received product in the mail. Besides NPS, Vistaprint also asks for feedback on the customer experience, open-ended questions, and firmographics and demographics.  To provide a consistent methodology, Vistaprint uses a large sample size and robust data cleaning and quality assurance.

The company has executive buy-in, with the CEO of the holding company reviewing it on a monthly basis. Results are communicated monthly through an interactive dashboard available to anyone in the organization to filter by customers and by country. High-level executives are sent a monthly scorecard of NPS results with key takeaways by country. Each month, the executive meeting reviews all KPIs, including NPS, benchmarked against a target level per country.

Vistaprint links NPS to customer value. Repeat sales are highest among promoters (9 and 10 on 0-to-10-point scale), in the middle for passives (7 and 8), and lowest for detractors (0 to 6).

For one country, NPS declined for a particular month. The research organization conducted a root cause analysis, and found that a carrier was delivering packages late. Once the carrier fixed the issue, the NPS rating rebounded.

Vistaprint ran a web-marketing test, where 10% to 15% of visitors saw a new site, and contrasted it to the control site. The NPS was used to contrast the performance of the two sites.

The organization also uses a closed feedback loop to identify detractors, who then receive outbound calls.

Why is NPS so much higher in the United States? Cultural difference aside, what makes NPS different? For instance, France has a lower NPS than other markets. Is it particular to the French culture or to something the organization is doing in France? Vistaprint doesn’t yet know.

The organization wonders if NPS is plateauing, since a score of +100 is out of reach. Vistaprint is interested in evaluating other metrics and wants to be able to track a measure the company might one day move to. The company is currently researching potential alternatives.

For Vistaprint, NPS is a system, not a metric.

IMAGE from the 2014 Corporate Researchers Conference (where Jeffrey Henning, coincidentally, presented a session on net promoter score.)