When looking at your Net Promoter Score® (NPS) customer feedback strategy, two elements will be at play:

  • Transactional NPS (tNPS)
  • Relational NPS (rNPS)

In this post we explore tNPS in detail, how it’s different to rNPS and how together they can be used to give you an accurate picture of customer loyalty.

What is tNPS?

Transactional NPS (tNPS) is a metric derived from asking customers how likely they are to recommend a company shortly after they’ve transacted with it. The definition of a ‘transaction’ is broader than simply making a purchase. Rather it can relate to any meaningful interaction which may influence the overall perception of the customer towards the company. 

How does tNPS differ from NPS?

NPS (Net Promoter Score) is the world’s most popular metric for tracking customer loyalty; specifically the self-declared propensity of customers to recommend (or not) a company or brand to other people. Read all about it in our comprehensive Ultimate Guide to NPS.

NPS is calculated as a numeric score in the range of -100 to 100. All NPS scores are calculated based on the collection of completed NPS surveys – single-question polls sent out to customers asking for feedback. Feedback comes in the form of a single score, per customer, per survey, in response to a question such as:

tNPS is one of two major subsets of NPS surveys, the other being relational NPS (or rNPS). tNPS surveys are distinguished by the customer milestones they follow on from. This impacts upon:

  • The timing of the tNPS survey being issued to customers (typically directly after the ‘transaction’ or interaction has been completed)
  • The wording of the tNPS survey sent to customers (explicitly relating to the content of the transaction/interaction)

Later we cover off a bunch of tNPS survey examples to show this in practice.

What’s the difference between tNPS and rNPS?

Transactional NPS (tNPS)

tNPS is one of the two kinds of survey methods for collecting NPS customer feedback data. It’s based on a nuanced approach to when NPS surveys are issued and the context to which they refer. The general idea with tNPS is to gather specific NPS data in relation to certain milestone events in the customer journey. This gives fast, contextual insights into how each interaction went, and the impact this had on the customer’s perception. 

tNPS surveys can produce a great overview of an individual customer’s outlook, as well as being aggregated with lots of other NPS scores for the same or similar interactions to give a representative view. tNPS surveys help companies identify rises and falls in NPS score and track trends over time.

Relational NPS (rNPS)

Relational NPS refers to the subset of NPS surveys that are unconnected to specific milestone events and are not triggered by the completion of transactions or interactions. The ‘r’ in rNPS can also stand for ‘regular’ NPS. 

rNPS surveys are typically issued periodically, to a regular cadence such as quarterly or annually. This allows companies to collect NPS data irrespective of the frequency or intensity of customer interactions. Used together, rNPS and tNPS surveys provide a great deal of data that, when normalized, can give a more reliable picture of customer loyalty than one driven by fewer or less diverse surveys.

rNPS is a good counterpoint to tNPS in that it gives a general overview of the customer’s willingness to recommend, rather than a specific view of this based on a given interaction. It effectively challenges customers to think about how they view the company in general, before giving a response – whereas tNPS relies more heavily on the customer giving their hot take based on the last thing that happened.

Types of tNPS survey and when you should use them

tNPS surveys are all about timing and context – making the last thing that happened in the customer relationship a great reason for customers to give feedback about their loyalty.

But you shouldn’t send tNPS surveys out for the smallest little thing. Consider the following events in the customer journey for when to send yours. Not all will necessarily be relevant, but each could be an opportunity based on the unique circumstances of your business.

  • Subscription activated
  • Onboarding process completed
  • Product shipment confirmed
  • Receipt of payment acknowledged
  • Chat session concluded
  • Support call / ticket closed
  • Service interaction ended
  • Product update notified 

Benefits of tNPS

There are several benefits unique to tNPS, which make it vital to always include tNPS surveys within your overall NPS strategy.

Keep up to date with customer loyalty KPIs

While rNPS surveys give you a steady beat rate for the NPS metric, tNPS surveys can operate far more frequently and dynamically. This ensures you’re never out of date with your NPS reporting and can keep this KPI fully attuned with other data like retention rates and recurring revenue figures.

Quickly identify churn threats

tNPS surveys can uncover when customers appear to feel negatively towards you and might be at risk of churning. This provides a valuable window of opportunity to intervene and make things right. This is much less likely with just rNPS surveys which only have indirect context of recent interactions.

Strike while the iron is hot with new promoters

Similarly with spotting when customers are about to churn, tNPS will identify when customers are raving about you. That can be a massive boost for marketing activity, allowing you to capitalize on the goodwill of positively-minded customers to write a great review or publish a testimonial. Again, it’s potentially a short window of opportunity – leave it too long and even a customer who gave a 10/10 NPS score might be less inclined to participate in marketing efforts a few weeks later.

Pinpoint improvements within specific workflows and processes

Because tNPS is closely coupled with the customer journey touchpoints they relate to, any feedback is incredibly useful for making improvements. This is far faster, cheaper and more efficient than mystery shopping exercises or being in the dark about what improvements might make a difference. You can even use tNPS surveys to test and validate improvements you’ve identified, so that you can be certain your time and effort has paid off. This is particularly important because such interactions are often competitive differentiators – and optimizing them could be more influential than having a cheaper product or a more visible brand.

Train, performance-manage and reward customer-facing personnel

Feeding tNPS survey data back to customer-facing staff is a great way to optimize the effectiveness of training content. It can also be used to motivate and incentivize staff to develop and follow more customer-centric practices.

You can achieve this by connecting tNPS feedback with customer interactions and the staff members that drove them. For example, examining tNPS feedback data in relation to service calls across the 10 call handlers in your service department. Use the data to run leaderboards and reward the top tNPS scorers. And when a very high or very low score comes in, you can investigate each of them to apply learnings that benefit everyone.

How should you calculate a specific score for tNPS?

The way to calculate tNPS is along the same lines as overall NPS scores. You simply apply the same calculation to only the results garnered through tNPS surveys.

How NPS is calculated

Calculating your NPS score is a three-stage process. 

  • First you put all your NPS responses into one of 3 categories
    • Promoters (scoring 9 or 10 on the NPS scale)
    • Passives (scoring 7 or 8 on the NPS scale)
    • Detractors (scoring 6 or less on the NPS scale)
  • Then you calculate each group as a percentage of the whole
  • Then you subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to arrive at a number that is your NPS score

For example:

Say you received 600 responses to your NPS surveys. 60 are detractors, 300 are passives and 240 are promoters. This works out as a percentage split of 10%, 50% and 40%. 40 minus 10 is 30. Therefore the NPS score is 30.

How to break out a tNPS reading from your overall NPS score

It’s possible to segment your NPS surveys in various ways to arrive at different NPS scores. Each of these tells you something different about the sentiment of the customers providing their responses. 

Let’s take an example of tNPS surveys and work out an NPS score for them. 

It doesn’t make much sense to look at all of your tNPS surveys, calculate an NPS score and compare that to your overall NPS score (that includes both tNPS and rNPS surveys). A better idea would be to break out tNPS survey results in relation to a specific kind of transaction or interaction. This would give you an NPS score related to how customers felt about that, and it could be useful to track this over time – particularly if you progressively made improvements to how the transaction/interaction was handled.

For our example, imagine that each new customer undergoes an onboarding process that familiarizes them with a digital app which supports their overall customer experience. It’s a critical step and one you’re trying to optimize. Of the 600 responses mentioned in our first example above (that together arrived at an NPS score of 30), let’s say that 80 related to this onboarding process. Here are some results:

  • 32 detractors
  • 38 passives
  • 10 promoters   

Based on this, the tNPS score for this tNPS survey is -22. In other words, in the context of an NPS score that’s pretty good (30) there is one specific interaction that all new customers must undergo that only has an NPS score of -22. The conclusion from this is that this process should urgently be improved, and that it’s likely most new or recently acquired customers may need greater attention to avoid the risk of churn.

How to maximize your tNPS score

Data from tNPS surveys should be targeting you to make improvements to customer interactions, milestones and touchpoints. But you should also be motivated to increase tNPS scores. After all, this will show that your improvements are paying off. Here are some other strategies that will help you increase tNPS score, besides simply making your processes and customer experience better.

Map your customer journey

Go back to the drawing board to confirm you’re deploying tNPS surveys everywhere you should be. Create a customer journey map that lays out the entire end-to-end customer experience and all its constituent processes and touchpoints. All are potential sites for injecting a tNPS survey, ideally within communications flows you’re already sending out. 

Using customer journey maps the right way is proven to support big changes in customer success. According to McKinsey, it has the potential to grow customer satisfaction by 20%, boost revenue by 15% and shrink the cost of serving customers by up to 20%.

Make tNPS surveys quick, simple and engaging

Instead of including NPS feedback questions in longer questionnaires, send shorter dedicated surveys that are quick and easy to complete. This will help optimize response rates, which is very important to ensuring accuracy and mitigating forms of survey bias.

Our strong recommendation is to use 1-click tNPS surveys, straight off the back of recently concluded interactions/transactions. Ideally these will be included within the typical email-based notifications you would already be sending to confirm completion of customer milestones. Other rules to bear in mind include:

  • Write simple and engaging email subject lines
  • Explore embedding NPS questions into your email signatures
  • Ensure tNPS questions are unambiguous
  • Briefly explain to customers why you’re collecting tNPS data – and the benefit to them – so they’re happier to participate
  • Thank customers every time they provide tNPS feedback 

Close the loop on tNPS feedback responses

Another way to optimize your tNPS score is by taking every opportunity to shift perceptions with individual customers who provide tNPS feedback. You can do this by setting triggers for getting in touch with customers who give high or low scores at certain thresholds. For example, anyone giving less than a 4 is probably very unhappy and you should consider taking that as your cue to find out why and try to fix their problem. At the top end of higher scores, you can double-down on their goodwill by thanking them enthusiastically and finding out what drove them to be so positive.

Don’t pursue a professional tNPS program without first working out what you’ll do with certain types of feedback before it arrives. For NPS scores, you could introduce some SLAs to your managers:

Set some timescales within which you will respond. For example, reaching out to newly discovered unhappy customers in 1 hour or less. Ensure it’s a commitment you can keep, and organize the team to deliver against it. Then check back again later to check everything is OK. This is called ‘closing the loop’ and Customer Thermometer has a dedicated Closed Loop feature that makes sure NPS response processes are carried out to auditable standards.

Have a plan for tNPS detractors

Those tNPS detractors who’ve scored you a 6 or less could be damaging to your business – not just in lost revenue potential but also negative word of mouth. The smart strategy is to elevate detractors into being ‘passives’ (who score a 7 or 8). You might think that aiming to make them into promoters is the better bet, but you need to be realistic. Nudging them into passive territory will neutralize them and literally remove them from the NPS score equation. 

Follow up with tNPS detractors to find out common reasons for giving low NPS scores. These should lead you to relatively small changes that remove friction and irritation. It won’t make them suddenly love you, but might at least relieve their issues enough to return a ‘passive’ score the next time you poll them.

Have a plan for tNPS passives

Your plan for tNPS passives should be to elevate them to tNPS promoters. 

Start by asking tNPS passives what it would take to boost their rating from 7 or 8 to a 9 or  10 – and implement changes accordingly. Complement this by exploring reasons why tNPS promoters are so positive about you – then come up with ways to close the gap in experience with your passives group. 

One avenue to pursue is working out how to deliver a more compelling and memorable experience by introducing some thoughtful gestures and empathy into the customer journey. Creating ‘moments’ is a great way to create memories, and the more of these you get the higher your tNPS score will rise.

Have a plan for tNPS promoters

tNPS promoters can’t get any higher on the scoring scale, so your strategy here is all about conservation – doing whatever it takes to keep promoters at the same level. 

One approach is to formalize their stated intention to recommend you with a referral program which rewards them for bringing you new customers. This creates a monetizable asset from your tNPS efforts and one that you can nurture, innovate and grow. It also shows you just how accurately the tNPS metric is working for you – if only 60% of the customers who say they’ll recommend you actually end up sticking to their word, perhaps you can only count on your NPS score being 60% accurate.

Keeping NPS promoters on side also allows you to maximize the volume and quality of feedback they’ll be willing to provide. You can learn a lot from a happy customer who’s bought into your company’s purpose and product. Plus it’s a useful platform to elicit testimonials, independent reviews and participation in user groups and product testing.

11 tNPS survey examples

There are numerous variations on the classic NPS question. But just because you’re activating your tNPS survey to a given customer off the back of a specific action, it doesn’t mean you necessarily have to change it. So that’s the first example tNPS survey question:

The classic NPS survey questions

On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend us/COMPANY to a friend or colleague?


A slightly more appropriate slant on this could be to make the question aligned to a specific product or service that the customer is using, rather than your company/brand as a whole. In which case, you alter the wording to something like this:


On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend PRODUCT/SERVICE to a friend or colleague?

Generic interaction tNPS survey questions

The idea of tNPS is to get a hot take on the customer’s loyalty score based on the last thing that happened. You can craft a question that refers to that last interaction or transaction in a generic way, such as:

Thinking about your most recent interaction with us, how likely is it that you’ll recommend us to a friend or colleague (scale of 0–10)?

Another take on this could be to refer to their last visit (i.e. to a store)

How likely are you to recommend us to friends or family, based on your recent visit (scale 0–10?)

First interaction tNPS survey questions

Your first tNPS surveys will inevitably relate to the first transactions and interactions you conduct with new customers. These kinds of questions should fit the bill:

Based on your first impressions, how likely is it you will recommend us to other people?

In this next example, we’re being more specific about the process that led to the customer making their first purchase.

Now that you’ve experienced our fast-track booking, how likely are you to recommend XXX to a friend or colleague? (0-10)

Recent purchase tNPS survey question

If your customer retention strategy is effective, you’ll have plenty of repeat customers to deal with. Polling this group is at least as important as new customers, so you’re optimizing your processes to avoid churn. Asking about their most recent purchase would go something like this:

Based on your last purchase, how likely (on a scale of 0–10) are you to recommend us to someone else?

Specific interaction tNPS survey questions

There are many kinds of interactions unique to your customer journey. Where possible you can refer to these explicitly, so customers can give scores based on that specific context. Here are 3 examples:

Following your enquiry to our service desk, how likely are you to recommend us to other people? (scale of 0–10)

Based on your customer onboarding experience with us, how likely are you to recommend us to friends or colleagues? (0–10)

Having completed the training course, how likely would you say you are to recommend XXX to other professionals like you? (scale of 0–10)

You can change up the question slightly to make more of an inference to the specific interaction, rather than an explicit reference below. In the example below, the tNPS survey would go out to customers immediately following an online chat interaction, so the context is very obvious even if the question isn’t explicitly related to the interaction itself.

On a scale of 0–10, how likely are you to recommend our online chat support service to others?

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