Small businesses live and die by what our customers think of us. Staying intimately connected to your customer base isn’t just advised, it’s essential to your very survival.
On The Fizzle Show, we often recommend talking with customers frequently, through both in-depth one-on-one interviews, responsive and frequent email conversations, and through surveys.
Each approach has different benefits. Interviews are great for really getting to know one customer’s perspective, problems, and how your solution fits in. Surveys are great for finding out how well you’re doing across the board.
You can devise your own surveys for different purposes. For example, we created a survey at the end of the year to find out what our customers accomplished in 2014.
But what about measuring your progress on a standard scale over time? How can you use surveys to find out if your solution is becoming more valuable to your average customer?
This is where the Net Promoter Score (NPS) comes in. NPS is sometimes called the “one number you need to grow,” and it’s based on a 2003 Harvard Business Review article by Fred Reichheld.
The NPS survey consists of two questions, and results in one score that could range between -100 and 100. Essentially, each customer is asked “how likely are you to refer us to a friend or colleague?” on a scale of 0 to 10. Those responses are merged into three groups: detractors (0 to 6), passives (7 to 8) and promoters (9 to 10).
Here’s what our survey looked like:
You then subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to get your final score. If you had 100% promoters, with no detractors or passives, your score would equal 100.
But companies rarely score higher than 70. In fact, the average company earns somewhere between 5 and 10. Amazon.com earned a 76 in 2012 and Apple earned a 71.
Anything between 0 and 50 is considered good, between 50 and 70 is excellent, and above 70 is “world class.”
How Fizzle Scored
On the Fizzle team, we’ve been working hard to achieve true product/market fit, or “traction.” We’ve had a great couple of years, and have grown to over 1,800 active members currently, but still haven’t gotten to consistent month-over-month growth, which is something we’re striving for this year.
The Net Promoter Score can help your company inch toward product/market fit by letting you know why people stay and why people leave. Do more of the former and less of the latter, and your score should improve.
We sent the NPS survey using a tool called Promoter.io (more on that in a minute) to 1,750+ paying members last week. Here is how we fared:
What does a score of 39 mean? NPS practitioners advise not to be tempted to compare your score to other companies, unless you’re in the same market. Knowing that we earned a 39 and Verizon earned a 32 is meaningless because the problems we solve are so different.
Instead, you should focus on comparing your own score to itself over time. Measure now, implement changes, measure again and see if your score improves.
For us, the score of 39 was somewhat confusing. We’ve read about companies like Groove (customer support software), which first earned an 11, then improved to a 16. Groove has achieved consistent month-over-month growth and appears to have true product/market fit, despite having a score of 16. I have a feeling this is exactly why it is recommended that you not compare your scores directly…
However, aside from the raw score, they survey also produces something that should be incredibly valuable. Each customer is also asked “what is the most important reason for your score?” and given a chance to answer with free-form text. The responses to that question represent your opportunity to improve.
I mentioned Promoter.io before. Promoter is a tool that automates much of the NPS survey process. Calculating your score and categorizing feedback would be a pain on your own, so Promoter.io does some of this for you. The tool wasn’t perfect, but it certainly saved us some time, and the CEO Chad Keck was very responsive to my feedback and he promised many upcoming features that should make the tool even better.
Of course, Promoter.io sent me an NPS survey about their business, for which I gave them a score of “8.” I can’t yet rave about the tool because there were a handful of issues that made using the tool take longer than it could. All told, I spent around 10-15 hours administering the survey, responding to customers and categorizing feedback. That makes me a “passive” in the NPS lingo for Promoter.io, but the CEO’s reply made me want to tell you about them. Plus, I’m not aware of any other tool that does a similar job, and this fit a real need for us. If you’re planning to run an NPS survey definitely check them out.
What We Learned from Customer Feedback
One of the important things Promoter.io helps with is capturing feedback and helping you categorize it. Here’s an example of some rave feedback we received:
And here’s one response from a “passive” customer:
And finally, here’s an example of a response from a customer that fits in the “detractor” category:
16% of responses had a score of 6 or less, and there is a ton to learn from the feedback. 84% of responses had a score of 7 and above, and we’re examining the positive responses to learn what we should do more of.
Here are the top 5 things our customers raved about:
- The podcast
- Our helpfulness, support and the results people get
And here are the top 5 reasons people couldn’t recommend us:
- Not enough time to use Fizzle
- Friends aren’t entrepreneurs
- Forums/community aren’t useful enough
- Too self-guided, not enough coaching
- We go off topic too often / there’s too much noise
It’s too early to tell you exactly what we plan to change as a result of this feedback, but the entire process generated a bunch of new ideas, and validated several projects we already had in the works.
If you haven’t surveyed your customers recently, I definitely recommend giving the Net Promoter Score framework a try. Promoter.io made it fairly easy to administer, and we’ve been learning a ton.
Questions about Fizzle’s NPS survey, our results, or the NPS process in general? Ask below and we’re happy to answer!
If you’ve tried NPS or any other customer feedback survey systems, I’d love to hear about your experience below.
The Top 10 Mistakes in Online Business
Every week we talk with entrepreneurs. We talk about what’s working and what isn’t. We talk about successes and failures. We spend time with complete newbies, seasoned veterans, and everything in between.
One topic that comes up over and over again with both groups is mistakes made in starting businesses. Newbies love to learn about mistakes so they can avoid them. Veterans love to talk about what they wish they had known when starting out.
These conversations have been fascinating, so we compiled a list of the 10 mistakes we hear most often into a nifty lil' guide. Get the 10 Most Common Mistakes in Starting an Online Business here »