With a single, simple question to your school constituencies – and the Net Promoter Score (NPS) based on their answers – you can have revealing, relevant data to inform your school’s marketing efforts.  

NPS, or what’s often referred to as the “gold standard” in customer satisfaction/experience tools, was developed in 2003. Companies use it to measure the power of their brand and customer loyalty. It’s a great tool for independent schools, too, especially now as the education world recalibrates after the pandemic.

The NPS question: How likely is it that you would recommend [School X] to a friend or colleague?

It’s critical for schools to understand how to use NPS and what it will – and won’t – tell them.

Finding Your School’s Net Promoter Score

Companies and schools send a simple survey with the NPS question to customers/families. Sometimes it makes sense to add it into one of your regular parent feedback surveys rather than sending it on its own. You can use any tool that makes it easy to capture the data (see below for suggested platforms). 

Respondents answer the question with a 0 to 10 point rating and are classified into three categories, based on their rating.

From the answers to this single question, NPS reports positive and negative customer feedback:

  • Promoters (score of 9 or 10) are your biggest fans and will increase your brand’s clout!
  • Passives (score of 7 0r 8) are neutral – satisfied but won’t move the needle on your reputation.
  • Detractors (score of 0 to 6) are not particularly satisfied and are more likely to damage your brand.

The NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.

Read more about NPS scores and how to use them to attract new families and retain current families. 

Pros and Cons of Net Promoter Scores for Schools

There are several benefits for a school in finding out their NPS score:

  • The NPS question is easy to use and understand. Remember to keep the survey short.
  • It’s simple to administer, whether the school uses a paid or free tool.
  • It’s a great tool to get a real-time review of your reputation in the marketplace.
  • If you choose to do NPS questions on a regular basis, you can create benchmarking data for your school. We recommend doing it no more than twice per year.

It’s just as important to understand what an NPS question can’t do.

  • While the beauty of the NPS question is its simplicity, it is impossible to get detailed information on a parent’s positive or negative feelings behind their NPS ranking without detailed follow up.
  • It can’t measure how your school’s brand compares to your competitor’s. The NPS Word of Mouth Index – How likely are you to discourage others from doing business with this company (or, in this case, from sending your children to this school)? – won’t provide enough context to enable you to create an effective strategy.  
  • Your school’s NPS score is a great snapshot of how your brand is perceived in the marketplace, but it’s one metric. Keep it in perspective with other data points.

Depending on NPS scores alone to drive decisions may lead to false conclusions about your brand. You will need in-depth market research to truly understand your school’s current and future market share – and to understand why parents (customers) choose the ranking they did on the NPS question. Market research uncovers what’s behind the positive or negative NPS scores. Is it tuition? Your campus? Programs?

Read Kalix’s e-book on Market Research.

Tips for Creating a Successful NPS Survey

First decide which platform to use. Qualtrics has templates available, but you also can use free templates through SurveyMonkey and Google. Check out SurveyMonkey’s free NPS survey template

Do not be tempted to ask too many questions. Keep it short:

  • 2-3 questions including the key NPS question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [School X] to a friend or colleague?”
  • Open-text box for optional reasons why they chose the ranking they did

Determine whom you are going to survey. Parents, faculty/staff, and students? Just parents?

Once your survey is ready, broadcast it widely to your community through email blasts, weekly divisional newsletters, etc. Before you send your NPS survey, though, have a system in place to capture the data and to sort through the open-text responses.

Timing is also important. Some companies conduct relational NPS surveys quarterly or annually to gather periodic data and create benchmarking data. For schools, It’s best not to send an NPS survey more than twice annually. Transactional NPS surveys are deployed after an event where a family (customer) interacted with your school.

Paid tools and some free tools, like SurveyMonkey, will calculate your NPS score for you. If your free tool does not, create a spreadsheet to calculate the scores. Make columns for Promoters (score of 9 or 10), Passives (score of 7 or 8) and Detractors. Subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters for your NPS score. Include any open data given, too.

And don’t forget to thank your community for participating in the survey.

Understanding your NPS Score

Data is king when it comes to making strategic marketing decisions. Collect as much data as you can to help add color to your NPS score. The more you analyze the data about the experience families have at your school, the more you understand what drives families to enroll their child—and to keep them enrolled.

Good sources of data include:

  • Recent surveys to families at your school on any issue
  • Exit interviews for graduating seniors
  • Interviews by admissions of ANCs (Those who were Accepted but chose not to come or enroll)
  • Data points from a comprehensive Social Media Audit  
  • Enrollment and retention trends for past five years at your school
  • Rating sites such as Niche, Private School Reviews, Great Schools, etc. – any site  where families review schools

Once you overlay your NPS score with other data, a clear picture of how your school is perceived in the marketplace will emerge. Find the common themes like “great athletics” or “financial aid is hard to understand” to help you determine what areas to focus on in your messaging and where you need to address “pain points” for your family. 

How can Kalix help you develop a better, more effective marketing strategy? Contact us.