NPS ImageEvaluations are so important to ensure that what we are doing is hitting the mark, however surveys can become complex and unwieldy.  When this happens learners are put off from completing them which can impact the validity of our results.

There is one school of thought that evaluations can be much more simple than this – by using the NPS system and this is what we are going to focus on this week.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is widely used by organisations to get an insight into how their customers feel about them by asking what is referred to as “the ultimate question”.  It’s a very straightforward system, and one which can be tweaked for use in learning evaluations.

Here’s how it works if you haven’t come across it already.

The NPS is made up of 3 different types of people:

  • Promoters – these are your raving fans.  They will use a company or service time and again and recommend you to friends and family.  It’s easy to see how more of them would benefit a business or service.
  • Neutrals or Passives – These are people who like your service just fine but who could basically take it or leave it.  They have no real loyalty to your business.
  • Detractors – these are people who do or have used your company or service but they didn’t like it or they didn’t have a good experience.  These people will not say good things about you and are more likely to tell people to avoid using your business or service.  It is fairly obvious how this group can be harmful to an organisations reputation.

Customers, or in our case, learners can be categorised as a promoter, neutral or detractor based on their answer to the Ultimate Question.  It’s  called the Ultimate Question because the developers of this system believe that .it is the key to improving services and loyalty.

Usually, that question is:  How likely are you to recommend us to a friend? and the responses available range from 0 through to 10, with 0 being not at all likely and 10 being extremely likely (see the image above).  People are also asked to give a reason for their score.

When using this system for evaluating learning however, the question will need to be tweaked just slightly.  I’d suggest something like:

How likely are you to recommend this training course to a colleague?  (or you could use “friend” if you run open training courses).  The available responses wouldn’t need to change.

Promoters are those who scored 9 or 10.  Neutrals will have scored 7/8 and anyone who scored 6 or less will be counted as a detractor.

In order to calculate the NPS itself you have to do a little maths:

% of promoters – % of detractors = NPS

Lets work through an example:

Sally ran a customer service training session.  She had 10 attendees.  At the end of the session she asked them the ultimate question and got the following responses:

Promoters = 4

Neutrals = 3

Detractors = 3

TOTAL = 10

To calculate the NPS for this session:

40% (% of promoters) – 30% (% of detractors) = 10 (the NPS for this session)

To put it into context, a NPS can be anything between -100 and 100, so 10 is alright in that it is a positive number!  However, straight away we can see that there will be work Sally can do to improve the impact and usefulness of her course for her learners.

Using the reasons provided by delegates, Sally will be able to see which parts of her course are working well and where she can take immediate action to improve her NPS.

Using the NPS system can be a great way to gather useful evaluation data for training sessions without time consuming (and very often off-putting) surveys and evaluations.


Further Learning:

The Ultimate Question by  Fred Reichheld – a book which details how the NPS system works.  It’s based on customer loyalty and growing profit, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see how it can translate over into a learning environment!

Why L&D Needs NPS by John R Mattox II.  This looks specifically at how NPS can be beneficial when used in an L&D environment.

What benefits can you see to using this system in your own evaluation processes? I’ve love to hear your thoughts!






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