Mature male patient looking at female receptionist using landline phone and computer at reception in dentist's clinic

What is a Net Promoter Score? And why is it important to your practice?

By John Schwartz on September, 18 2018
John Schwartz

What if I told you that your best and worst patients have something in common?  And that your toughest patients are actually the ones that are technically satisfied?  Oh, and that before 20-30% of your satisfied patients leave in the next 180 days, they will work very hard to drive your margins to zero.  Oof!

When you think about it, this makes sense, but most practices identify these patients -- formally referred to as Promoters, Passives and Detractors -- only after the fact.  After they have left for lower prices or after they have told 10 other people how bad their experience with your practice was. What Net Promoter Scoring does is identify these patients so you can either help amplify the word-of-mouth effect of Promoters or head off negative consequences (like a negative online review) before they happen with unhappy patients.  At the end of the day, it helps you grow your practice.  

What Is a Net Promoter Score?

A Net Promoter Survey simply asks patients to rate the likelihood that they will recommend a practice's services on a scale from 0 -10. Based on these patients' answers, they are put into three categories: Detractors, Passives and Promoters. Those patients who post a score of 6 or below are labeled Detractors. Passives rank their scores as either a 7 or 8. Those who answer the survey question with a 9 or 10 are put into the Promoters class. If a practice has substantially more Promoters than Detractors, you're doing many things right and the practice is growing.

A practice would receive an overall score by subtracting the percentage of survey Detractors from the percentage of survey Promoters. As a result, the practice will be scored somewhere between -100 and 100. Obviously, any score in the negative is cause for some concern.

NPS is an excellent way to measure what type of "word of mouth" advertising a practice is receiving.

But My Practice Isn't Like Hotels or Restaurants

Some practices may be reluctant to use Net Promoter surveys simply because they don't consider themselves the same as other commercial concerns, such as restaurants or bed and breakfasts. After all, a restaurant doesn't lose or gain new customers due to things completely out of their control like insurance.

But acquiring a Net Promoter Score should be considered a tool to provide patients with the best service possible, which almost always leads to a stronger practice and better, more sustainable revenue stream. In a market that can be price driven for many practices, identifying opportunities to add value is essential for growth.

How to Use the Score

First, practices need to contract with a company to provide this service. Then, they may want to add an open-ended question to the Net Promoter survey so dissatisfied patients can explain the root of their complaints. If a patient reports that their experience was a 5, you need to know if it had to do with your staff, the wait time, price, or something else entirely. In this way, you can address the issues with all levels of the practice. Certainly, a negative score of -100 means that all levels of service need to be examined.  

With MRKTmetrics Professional, we can automatically collect, track and analyze your NPS with the added benefit of asking your Promoters to fill out a review. And our AI-driven analytics finds themes using natural language processing and deep machine learning to help you determine your strengths and weaknesses against benchmark data built from other practices. We even have automated solutions for your Promoters and Detractors to help reduce your reaction time and improve your chances of turning a Detractor into a Promoter and a Promoter into your best marketer!

Experts suggest that the Net Promoter Score be used in conjunction with other methods to determine patient satisfaction. On its own, the Net Promoter Survey is a powerful tool that can help make any practice more successful. Practices can embrace these tools to improve their service and build their patient base.

John Schwartz

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