If you’re a trainer or training professional, you probably use some type of customer satisfaction score to measure how happy students are with the courses that you offer them.

Chances are that once a student has completed a course you ask them this question:  “How satisfied were you with the course/instructor?”

If your satisfaction scores are high, you communicate that message out to the organization to highlight what a great job you’re doing. The problem with asking the “satisfaction” question is that the answer doesn’t tell you how engaged or loyal your students are.

Customer engagement or loyalty is a much better indicator of whether or not those students will take any more of your classes.  In fact, high satisfaction scores might well be hiding the fact that many of your training customers are ready to jump ship and find another provider.

Here a real life non training example:

I hired a vendor to do some work on my house. The work took much longer than I expected and the contractor really didn’t do a good job of communicating schedule changes, delays etc. At the end of the day, I was highly satisfied with the work that this contractor had done. If he had given me a survey to rate his work I would have given him a nine out of 10. There was no way however, that I would use him again or refer his services to one of my friends. Mind you, many of my friends needed similar work done on their homes. The impact to the vendor was that even though I was satisfied with the work that he did, there were a lot of revenue opportunities that he will not realize.

Is it possible that your training organization is a lot like the vendor that worked on my house? You’re getting a lot of good scores on your satisfaction surveys, but your students or customer base is not really loyal?

My personal experience, it seems, was not a coincidence. Research indicates that there is a direct correlation between corporate revenue and the willingness of existing customers to refer that company’s services.  Forbes magazine suggests that one of the reasons that Apple Inc.’s retail stores have the highest productivity in retailing of any kind, is that they’ve found a way to both measure and impact customer loyalty (as opposed to satisfaction). The process is called Net Promoter Score or NPS.

Here’s how it might in a training environment.

Abandon your current questionnaire and create a one question survey. Rather than asking students who have completed courses: “How satisfied were you with this course?” Ask them: “On a scale of “0-10” with “0” meaning not at all and “10” being extremely likely, how likely are you to refer this course/instructor to a colleague?”  Provide students with an area to submit comments if they wish.

Anyone who score you a 9 or a 10 is considered a promoter. If a student gives you a 7 or 8, they are considered passives. Students who give you a score between ) and 6 are considered detractors.To get you’re NPS you would subtract all of the scores that are rated from “0 – 6” from the scores that rate you between 9 and 10. If for example you received one hundred surveys from a course and twenty of those surveys rated your course between 0 and 6. Ten rated you between 9 and 10, and seventy rated you between a 7 and an 8.You would subtract the detractors (20) from the promoters (10) giving you a NPS of (-10), translation you have a lot of work to do.

Using a traditional approach to viewing these numbers gives you a different view. We would probably consider anyone who rated us above a “5” as satisfied.  Thus the satisfaction score would have been 80% (the seventy that rated you between 7 and 8 plus the 10 that rated you between 9 and 10).

The score of 80% would have hidden the fact that more of your students are detractors than are promoters, and that only 10 out of 100 would refer your services to a colleague.

So, if you really want to know how good a job you’re training team is doing. Consider NPS.

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