Net Promoter Score: What Recruiters Need to Know About It

Net Promoter Score: What Recruiters Need to Know About It

Emily Smykal

net promoter score in recruitingHow often do you agree to complete a survey, if ever? When you do, are you giving whole-hearted answers? The answer to both questions is probably negative. Surveys are ubiquitous in the digital world, and as a result have become more burdensome than anything else. But every company with a customer-facing division wants to hear what those customers think of their experience.

As we’ve said numerous time before, one of the most effective ways to ensure you’re providing a good experience to job seekers is to treat them like your customers.

And yet, just as respondents don’t seem to take surveys seriously, senior management has grown impatient with the lack of useful, concrete data surveys provide. Enter the Net Promoter Score (NPS)–introduced in 2003, as a clean and simple way to measure performance.

A company’s NPS has become a useful tool for measuring customer satisfaction as it correlates with growth, and Gerry Crispin, co-founder of Talent Board and driver behind the 2015 CandE Awards, has applied the same principles to understanding candidate experience performance. In this post we’ll learn more about the NPS and why it’s such a useful metric for recruiters to track.

What Is a Net Promoter Score?

Net Promoter Scores came out of research by Frederick F. Reichheld, who was searching for the shortest survey possible that would accurately assess customer loyalty to a brand. He found that a customer’s willingness to refer someone else to the brand corresponded with growth more than any other question.

The NPS scale itself is pretty simple. It usually ranges from -100 to 100, where everyone at the negative end would not refer another person, while those at the positive end would undoubtedly refer others. An NPS of zero is known as a good score, and anything over 50 is “excellent”. Those who would refer your brand are promoters, and those who would not are detractors (Net Promoters = % promoters – % detractors).

As evidence for NPS as a tool to predict growth and target unhappy customers grew, talent acquisition leaders took notice. Candidate loyalty to a brand can be a huge boost if those people are willing to recommend that their friends apply to the same company.

Straightforwardly asking candidates a question like, “Based on your experience here, how likely are you to refer others to apply?” is now recognized as the primary way to measure the performance of candidate experience.

Why Should Recruiters Care About Net Promoter Score?

If NPS is based on just one, sometimes a few questions, how can recruiters know it’s an important data point to analyze? Especially when you consider the range of other metrics that have become central to a good candidate experience. Your NPS won’t explain why some candidates are loyal to your brand, and others aren’t. But it will give your candidate experience a much needed benchmark from which to grow.

Respondents who come in at the high range, the “promoters,” are essentially free brand ambassadors for your company. They’ve admitted they would recommend your brand to a fellow job seeker, and they probably speak openly and positively about their experience with, for example, your career site.

Candidates like this could even be targeted with a follow-up survey, to better understand which features of your apply process they enjoyed, or which aspects of your brand appealed to them. Because unless you’ve been working through your company’s apply flow yourself, you won’t have an informed perspective like the way your candidates do (even if you do, you might be a little biased).

On the flip side, the detractors coming in with lower scores might be talking to their peers, too, but not in the way you want them to. NPS data can yield positive and negative results all recruiters would benefit from investigating.

What If You Ignore Your Net Promoter Score?

If you don’t have time to calculate your company’s NPS, or are not convinced it’s necessary, there are plenty of other metrics you can focus on. But ignoring your NPS can be a huge missed opportunity.

Take the detractors who wouldn’t recommend your brand to another person. That negative word-of-mouth can spread just as quickly as positive reviews, if not faster. And a poor image among reviewers and potential candidates creates more work for recruiters, who have to try even harder to get those job seekers back on their side.

Another loss here is the ability to foster new promoters. Some survey respondents may not be ready to recommend your company to a friend, but if they’re towards the middle of the NPS range, they’re probably worth targeting with some follow-up questions. Responses might range from “I don’t like your new logo” to “I just got a better offer from someone else,” or something more specific, but if even one candidate provides feedback that can be acted on, recruiters could prevent the same problem from hindering the experience of a future applicant.

Working With Your Net Promoter Score

It may sound trivial to build a new survey into your apply process with just one question. But once you begin measuring NPS, you can discover which parts of your candidate experience impact potential hires–for better and for worse. And as we’ve learned from studies of candidate experiences, potential applicants are just as hungry for a better experience as you are.

To learn more about recruiting metrics, and the role of analytics in helping talent acquisition leaders make better decisions, read our whitepaper, Analytics in Talent Acquisition: The Hype, the Reality, and the Future.

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