Startup Blog

Using NPS at a Startup - Tips and Tricks from Experience

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/17/16 11:30 AM

I'm hearing more and more questions over time from founders, execs and marketers at startups about NPS (net promoter score).  If you are not familiar with NPS, check out this overview and my interview with the creator of NPS.  We used NPS extensively at HubSpot starting when Jonah Lopin implemented it around 2009 (he's now founder of Crayon, check it out if you do any marketing or design work - I'm an advisor and investor).  NPS can be a very valuable tool in measuring customer happiness and the underlying growth potential of your startup, if it is used properly.  Unfortunately, from the questions I have been getting, I worry startups are misusing NPS, so here are some of my thoughts.

Marketing Pitfall: US Weekly Magazine Making it Hard to Buy Something

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/13/09 10:08 AM

It is amazing to me how hard people make it to buy things sometimes.  I admire companies that do not need to play games with pricing and discounting and there is just one price per product through all channels.

How complicated do you make it to buy your products?


Me: Hi, I'd like to renew my wife's subscription for her birthday.

US Weekly Magazine: Sure, that will be $67.

Me: Actually, I got something in the mail that says it is $51.

US Weekly Magazine: Do you have the offer code?  I can't give you that deal without the offer code.

Me:  No, the letter is in my recycle bin at home.  Can you tell me what the offer code is and I will repeat it back to you?

US Weekly Magazine: No.

Me:  OK.  I also found the same deal on and this number was in the listing.  I figured it was easier to call so it would just get added onto the current subscription.

US Weekly Magazine:I can't honor online pricing.  There are a lot of websites out there selling unauthorized subscriptions.

Me: is selling your magazine without authorization?  I mean, this 800 number I called was in the

US Weekly Magazine:  I don't know about that Amazon thing, but I can't honor online prices. 

Me:  OK.  What should I do.

US Weekly Magazine: Well, I'll give you her account number.  Then you can go to our website, log in, and then renew online on our website and that will give you the best price.

Me: But you can't honor that price right here?  I have my credit card in my hand... 

US Weekly Magazine: No.  Sorry.

Me:  OK... Fine.  What's the account number and URL I need...?

Little Things, Big Happiness - Berkley Perk Cafe

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/3/09 11:47 AM

Sometimes companies try way too hard to make people happy.  Looking for the next whiz-bang things that will revolutionize the world.  Sometimes customers just want little things.

coffee shop free gum

I was at a coffee shop in my neighborhood in Boston a couple weeks ago and fixing my coffee (one sugar) and saw something cool.  A small basket with wrapped single pieces of minty gum in it.  Perfect to clean up that coffee breath.

Starbucks will sell you some cool "after coffee mints" for about $3.  Ouch.  These folks are saying "the gum is free, come back for the coffee".  It probably costs them about $0.01 per customer since not everyone takes the gum.  But it was enough to make me happy, which made me blog about it.

What is one tiny thing you can do for your customers to make them happy?

PS - Shame on the Berkley Perk Cafe for not having a simple website.  I would have linked to them and might have left a nice comment on their website for other customers to see.

Crazy Easy Creates Success - Governor Deval Patrick

Posted Mike Volpe on 2/2/09 2:06 PM

Governor Deval Patrick came to our office at HubSpot last week.  We all wanted a photo with him.  So, we made it so easy he could not refuse.  The governor had a short meeting with our co-founders.  During that meeting, we all got together, set up the photo, lined everything up, and just kept one spot open in the middle for him.

deval patrick company visit

We waited there about 5 minutes.  When he came out, we all clapped, and then someone said, "we saved you a seat!"  He sat down, we dropped a HubSpot sign in his lap and snapped a bunch of photos.  Then we all clapped and thanked him and he took off to his next meeting.

The total time commitment for the governor was about 25 seconds.  We made it easy for him so we got what we wanted.

What if we didn't make it that easy?  Well, with a schedule as busy as he has, it would have been easy to come out of the meeting and then look at all fof us getting into position to the photo (which you know from experience will take a few minutes), and he could have said "I'm late for my next meeting, it was so nice to see you all..." and then head off.

But, we made it easy for our target customer, and he couldn't help but do what we wanted.

Do you make things "crazy easy" for your customers?  How could you?

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