US executive Search Industry net promoter score

In this page:

  • Understanding Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Importance of NPS
  • Importance of NPS in Executive Search Industry
  • Why NPS matters to you as a search firm?
  • Net Promoter Score for Executive Search industry in the US
  • Industry NPS benchmark
  • Net Promoter Score classification for executive search industry
  • Want to see Net Promoter Score for your company?

Understanding Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company, company’s products, or services to others. It is used as a proxy for gauging the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand.

NPS serves as a predictive metric, where higher scores typically indicate stronger customer loyalty and satisfaction, which in turn can lead to enhanced business performance through increased customer retention, positive word-of-mouth, and revenue growth.


The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is determined by subtracting the percentage of customers who are detractors from the percentage who are promoters. What is generated is a score between -100 and 100 called the Net Promoter Score. At one end of the spectrum, if when surveyed, all of the customers gave a score lower or equal to 6, this would lead to an NPS of -100. On the other end of the spectrum, if all of the customers were answering the question with a 9 or 10, then the total Net Promoter Score would be 100.

Here's how it works:

  • Respondents who answer 9-10 are promoters.
  • Respondents who answer 7-8 are passives.
  • Respondents who answer 0-6 are detractors.

‘Detractors’ gave a score lower or equal to 6. They are not particularly thrilled by the product or the service. They, with all likelihood, won’t use the services again from the company, could potentially damage the company’s reputation through negative word of mouth.


‘Passives’ gave a score of 7 or 8. They are somewhat satisfied but could easily switch to a competitor’s offering if given the opportunity. They probably wouldn’t spread any negative word-of-mouth but are not enthusiastic enough about your products or services to actually promote them.


‘Promoters’ answered 9 or 10. They love the company’s products and services. They are the repeat buyers, are the enthusiastic evangelist who recommends the company products and services to other potential buyers.

Importance of NPS

  • Simplicity – NPS is easy to understand, implement and act upon. This straightforward nature makes it an accessible metric for companies of any size and industry.
  • Actionability – Companies can use NPS to uncover opportunities to improve, efficiently target specific customer segments and turn at-risk customers into brand ambassadors. The metric also serves as a gauge for the overall health of customer relationships.
  • Predictive value – Linked to customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth, a high NPS suggests a potential for greater customer retention and more revenue for the business, predicting future growth.
  • Benchmarking – NPS offers a means to compare performance against industry standards and competitors, in order to identify trends over time and facilitate informed decision- making.

Importance of NPS in Executive Search Industry




  • Confident to give you repeat business.
  • Recommends to other business units, group companies or subsidiaries of the group.
  • Recommends to external executive search buyers in their network.
  • Recommends for cross border business.
  • Takes initiative to expedite the interview process by going the extra mile.
  • You are the go-to firm for executive search services.
  • Confident to associate with you in future searches.
  • Has earned your trust in keeping confidentiality.
  • Happy to provide recommendations from their network.
  • Possibly use for one of their search needs in future.
  • 3x more likely to help you with names and contacts of candidates by going the extra mile.
  • Speaks positively about you to the prospective employer.


  • You are not their go-to search firm. You could be one of many options.
  • Less likely to give top and confidential searches.
  • Gives mediocre feedback about you to the market.
  • They like your service and approach but nothing extraordinary.
  • Trusts your credibility.
  • Likely recommends you to their network of candidates.
  • They tend to keep a good relationship for future sake.


  • Feels no value received for time and money.
  • Not confident to retain your search firm in future.
  • Provides negative feedback to business units, subsidiaries, group companies, and industry.
  • Feels like you didn’t sell the candidature enough.
  • Feels the process wasn’t transparent enough and clear communication was inadequate.
  • Reluctant to participate in future searches.
  • Talks negatively to their network.

Why NPS matters to you as a search firm?

It’s clear to see how the balance of detractors and promoters would indicate a company’s potential for success. Starting from behind, it would cost a company much more money to win back a detractor as opposed to simply keeping promoters on board. They won’t buy more products and services from the company given their negative experience and they might very well bad mouth your brand to their peers.

The reverse is true with a customer enthusiast and promoter. They’ll buy more from the company they love; they’ll need less customer service and will refer valuable referrals and send more business your way. As Fred Reichheld, one of the key people behind NPS, said, “essentially promoters become the company’s marketing department.”

Bain and Co, who originally introduced this metric, have researched the correlation between a company’s growth and its Net Promoter Score. They found that for most industries, the Net Promoter Score accounts for 20% to 60% of a company’s organic growth rate.

“On average, the leader in an industry has a Net Promoter Score more than double that of its competitors.”

By specifically gathering information from survey participants as clients and candidates, the score helps you understand where you are falling short and where you are excelling. For instance, if your client NPS is low, your client facing executives can probe on what could improve – it could be poor quality of shortlist, wrong expectation setting, lack of speed, etc. If the candidate NPS is low, then you may want to reassess how you are approaching the market, your communication style, response rate, lack of appropriate candidate care, confidentiality protection, professionalism etc.

Every industry has an NPS benchmark. If your overall NPS score is higher than the industry benchmark, then a lot is going on right in your firm. Similarly, if your overall NPS score is lower than the industry benchmark, there is room for significant improvement.

Compared to detractors, promoters are over four times more likely to repurchase from a company, over five times more likely to forgive a company if it makes a mistake, over seven times more likely to try new offerings from a company, and almost five times more likely to trust a company.

The higher your NPS is, the more likely it is that your customer referrals will convert into new leads, hence into more revenue for your company.

Net Promoter Score for Executive Search industry in the US

Our many years of conducting NPS surveys for the executive search industry covering hundreds of firms has helped us form an industry benchmark for the search industry.

The overall benchmark for the executive search industry in the US is 41 for 2023. When it comes to clients, the benchmark NPS is 35 and with regards to candidates, the benchmark NPS is 30.


Industry NPS benchmark

Some of the other industry benchmarks for 2023 according to Satmetix, are:

  • Dept. & Specialty Stores – 59
  • Smartphones - 56
  • Online Shopping – 45
  • Banking – 35
  • Hotels – 29
  • Airlines - 22

US B2B clients has the following NPS.


US B2C clients has the following NPS.


Here’s the Bain & Co. benchmark for 11 industries in the US for 2023:


Net promoter score classification


Client NPS 75–100

  • Client feels high levels of professionalism, integrity, transparency, and commitment to the success of the search.
  • Client feels great value for time and money.
  • Considers the search firm as a strategic partner.
  • Client has strong willingness to give repeat business.
  • Exceptionally strong brand value. Clients are willing to trust the brand capabilities over a person.
  • Client trusts to deliver on tough, confidential, and prestigious searches.
  • The client speaks with high regard for the thoroughness of the search.
  • Client recommends your firm to group companies and subsidiaries.
  • Higher chances of forgiveness even when a search doesn’t do well. Willingness to give a second chance.

Candidate NPS 75–100

  • Quite an impossible feat to achieve given the nature of the business. From a long list of forty candidates, to a shortlist of three candidates and ultimately placing one candidate. Opportunity to multiply positive impact is limited compared to several other industries.
  • When a large pool of candidates is taken into consideration, they are more likely to give you a rating of 7 or 8 which reduces the chances of a higher candidate NPS.
  • Willing to open doors to the candidate’s network having experienced exceptional service standards first-hand.
  • Actively recommends the search firm when someone from the network needs search service.
  • Loyalty remains unchanged even when changing companies.

Leads the Industry

Client NPS 50–74

  • Client satisfaction and value creation perceived at a high level.
  • Client considers the firm to be the leader of a specific sector, sub- sector, or function.
  • Considers the search firm as a trusted partner.
  • Willing to trust with critical and confidential searches.
  • Willing to strongly recommend to industry peers and other relevant decision makers.
  • Is an unofficial brand ambassador.

Candidate NPS 50–74

  • Actively recommends the search firm when someone from the network is in need of search service.
  • Willing to open doors to the candidate’s network having experienced exceptional service standards first-hand.
  • One of the top three firms in the candidate’s mind.
  • Is an unofficial brand ambassador.

On Par with the Industry

Client NPS 25–49

  • Treats the search firm as one among many with very few key differentiators.
  • Relationship is transactional in nature. Views just as another service provider.
  • Likely to switch search firms when minimal additional benefits are offered.
  • Occasionally, refers to peers, often with caveats.
  • Decent brand value and often needs support from a sector expert or influential team member to secure a search.

Candidate NPS 25–49

  • Loyalty is split to maximize individual professional gains.
  • Tendency to withhold information during various stages of discussions.
  • Transactional relationship in nature.
  • Trust building is a process and hence time consuming.

Below Par

Client NPS 0-24

  • Highly unlikely to be used by the client again.
  • Diminished brand value.
  • Speaks negatively to the industry.

Candidate NPS 0-24

  • Faces poor candidate experience.
  • Loyalty is split to maximize individual professional gains.
  • Reluctant to engage with the same search firm.

Want to see scores for your company?

Every year we reach out to the most relevant clients and candidates in the US to conduct a wide-reaching survey to capture NPS for executive search firms and the larger executive search industry. Contact us at [email protected] to get net promoter score for your executive search firm.


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