Startups: Prioritize Turning Your Customers Into Evangelists

July 13, 2017

written by Daniel Coyle  AngelList | LinkedIn | Email | Twitter

It always blows my mind when I’m talking to a startup (or business in any growth stage for that matter) and they have no idea what their Net Promoter Score (NPS) is. Your Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend your company's products or services to others. It’s 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.

Not only will your NPS provide you with valuable insights into what your customers love, hate, and feel agnostic about, but it’ll provide insight into what you can do to move the needle in the right direction, and give them a reason to love you and recommend you. When done well, the survey you use to generate your NPS will provide you with a set of data points that you can integrate into your company strategy and vision. Once you have it, it’s up to you to make sure that you’re taking this feedback into consideration as you grow and iterate.

I received an email today from a service that I’ve used for over a decade, offering me cash to refer friends. I immediately deleted the email. I put up with this service, but it’s really outdated and disappointing; with seemingly no plans to improve. The only reason I still use them is because it would be a profound task to transition elsewhere, which isn’t a priority for me right now.

In this case, the cash for the referral is completely moot. They could offer me whatever they wanted and I wouldn’t bite; I value my reputation and relationships too much to sell them out for a measly credit.

This is an important lesson. It’s not what you offer people to recommend you, it’s whether or not they would even participate; and that’s up to you.

Another example: I love Zingerman’s and will gladly recommend them to anyone who loves unique, tasty food stuffs. They don’t offer me anything to recruit or recommend people to them, but I’m happy to because I trust that anyone who tries them will love them. I could, of course, be wrong. Everyone doesn’t love everything. But I know I’d never have someone say, “This is absolutely horrible, why would you ever tell me to try this?”, which is exactly what I fear about the other service.


My suggestion is that you get together a good survey and figure out your NPS. Mesh the info you get back from your customers (members, clients) with your business initiatives, needs, and wants; tweak and adjust where you see value.


What’s your customer acquisition cost from a referral? Little to nothing. It’s one of the most important levers you can pull early on.


If you want to discuss your startup, organization, or department in more specific detail, feel free to email me. I’m happy to see if I can help!