NPS and real-time feedback: A powerful combo to quantify student satisfaction

NPS and real-time feedback: A powerful combo to quantify student satisfaction


When looking for a future college to attend, prospective students and parents take many factors into account. Among the criteria that fall within this screening process are the university’s national rankings, the level of prestige it holds, its location, how that university can help in their career path, attendance costs, and how other students review those universities based on their own experiences on the college campus.

The reviews hold a considerable amount of importance in the decision-making process. In fact, online customers reviews, be them from students or otherwise, are read by over 91% of people who are interested in joining. Of these, 84% trust these reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation. What’s more, 68% will decide after reading between only one and six of these assessments.

With this in mind, it should go without saying that the overall satisfaction of students today will significantly impact the enrollment rates of tomorrow. And unsurprisingly, the auxiliary services found on a college campus have a major say in this regard. Knowing how your students feel in real-time will greatly benefit your college’s overall reputation.

Here is the simplest way to quantify students’ overall satisfaction levels and use real-time feedback to impact it.

The Net Promoter Score

Developed in 2003, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a management tool that can measure the loyalty between a given provider and a consumer. Since its introduction, over two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies are using it. And even if it was meant to analyze customer relationships in regards to their providers, this tool can also be used to determine student satisfaction and loyalty.

NPS Calculation

The way NPS works is by asking a single question and receiving feedback on it. Say, a college has identified an issue with dining services and worked on improving it. As part of a survey, students should then be asked the following question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how satisfied are you with the recent improvements?”

Based on their answers, the respondents then get classified into three groups:

  • Detractors – Those who gave a score of 6 or lower.
  • Passives – Those who gave between 7 and 8.
  • Promoters – Those who answered with 9 or 10.

By subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters, you will be presented with a score between -100 and 100, which is the NPS.

Reading the NPS

In short, the higher the score and the closer it gets to 100, the more satisfied the students are with the improvements made regarding dining services. This information should not be taken lightly as it can be a valuable insight into how your students view the college as a whole and whether they will be promoters or not.

The Economics of NPS

Based on a 2013 report by the Temkin Group, it revealed that “compared to detractors, promoters are almost six times as likely to forgive, are more than five times as likely to repurchase, and are more than twice as likely as detractors to recommend a company.” Though the analysis was not conducted on colleges, we can expect the psychology of promoters and detractors to remain consistent.

Applying the Information with Real-Time Feedback

For a college to improve its overall NPS score, it needs to put real-time feedback to good use.  Even if the detractors are harder to please than the promoters, managers of their respective auxiliary services can use the real-time data gathered to try and identify the “whys” behind their dissatisfaction. Finding out about the likes/dislikes, requests, problems and general comments from students, and acting on these, helps turn detractors and passives into promoters. Likewise, this data can also indicate what was done correctly and what turned students from being pure passives into promoters. 


The attraction of the Net Promoter Score lies in its simplicity. It alone can only show a glimpse into what the students are thinking. Nevertheless, when combined with real-time feedback , colleges can determine with a higher degree of accuracy what sets them apart from the competition and what areas need improvement to generate more positive feedback and, ultimately, higher enrollment rates.

Other relevant resources

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