The Importance of Net Promoter Score (NPS) with Robbie McFarlane - Inbound After Hours Podcast

During Digital 22's visit to INBOUND 18 in Boston, we managed to catch up with Robbie McFarlane, Principal II Channel Consultant at HubSpot. We discussed life at HubSpot, public speaking, the importance of NPS and much more.

The Importance of Net Promoter Score (NPS) with Robbie McFarlane - Inbound After Hours Podcast
Written by Raza Kazi
Inbound marketing, HubSpot, Events, Inbound video  |   20 minute read

INBOUND 18 was a very successful and memorable trip for Digital 22. Everyone in attendance learnt about all of the new product launches HubSpot has released, we soaked in some brilliant keynote speeches and we also managed to catch up with some special guests for Inbound After Hours.

After Mark and Paul sat down with Jon Dick, Vice President of Marketing at HubSpot to discuss the Flywheel, we also managed to finally track down Robbie McFarlane, Principal II Channel Consultant at HubSpot (before running into Dharmesh Shah and his wife in what was also a memorable evening).

In this episode of the Inbound After Hours podcast, Mark sat down with Robbie to cover a wide range of topics, including what life is really like at HubSpot. Public speaking was also another big topic and quite fitting, considering plenty of public speaking is done in Boston for the INBOUND event.

Also, Mark and Robbie discussed the importance of Net Promoter Score (NPS) and why it's beneficial to implement. To learn more about NPS and what Robbie had to say, hit play in the video below or continue scrolling for the full transcript.



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Full transcript:

- Hi guys, welcome to Inbound After Hours. Today we've got Robbie on the show. We've been trying to get Robbie on the show now for about six months. He's actually harder to get on here than Brian Halligan. We met him in a bar last night. We were over in Boston, met him in a bar, and I made him get out his phone and actually book it in his diary

- Was forced, forced, my hand was tied behind my back.

- And he's turned up, so thank you Robbie, top man.

- Pleasure, glad to be here.

- Just for the viewers then Robbie, what's your role at HubSpot, what do you do day to day?

- Yep, so I'm a Channel Consultant. I work with agencies and basically my job is to really guide an agency through the processes, that they're delivering inbound and making sure that their customers are seeing value from the relationships and that they're getting value from the tools. So I've been at HubSpot for the last two years, and I've loved every single second of it. I never thought that I would be as happy as I am at a company, which is incredible. And I think that the future's bright and the future's ours.

- Yeah, I agree, I mean just before the show we were chatting about your team. There's 20 of you come over from Dublin, and 80% women on your team.

- Well, yes, thereabouts. I don't think anyone's done the maths, but it's not far off, yeah.

- Yeah, you've got a great team, just seeing how passionate you are, and it's what keeps you at HubSpot.

- Yeah.

- So I think it's--

- huge, you know, the culture and the way in which we hire people, and the fit, the need to have certain traits that will help you to gel in the organisation. You don't have to come into this situation and be an absolute whizz around the tools or the product. As long as you've got these core sort of cultural skillsets, we have culture of sensitivity around what's happening, then you'll fit in very nicely at HubSpot.

- So it's back now to the hire on value, you don't hire on skills necessarily.

- Yep, I mean skills can be taught. Values obviously can be learned and changed, but there something
that's more in the core of the individual, and what we try and do is we try and identify those early on in the hiring process, and make sure that that's coming out, and we've got a very comprehensive on-boarding process so that anybody who comes in is gonna get the skills and the training that they need to be able to hit the ground running, and make sure that they're set up for a successful future. You know, at Dharmesh's talk yesterday, which was incredible, he talked a lot about.

- So good.

- It was phenomenal.

- That guy's come around. I remember seeing him five years ago, he looked really nervous on stage. He smashed it.

- He absolutely kicked ass. And it was fascinating to see him talking about something that is incredibly important for what we're doing. It's all about the customer, and it's all about making sure that we're being transparent, we're being open about the facts, that we're not gonna stand up on stage as I mentioned yesterday, and say everything is perfect. We've got gaps and we've got a few things that we suppose we need to iron out, but we know what they are and we know that we have a process in place
to to try and work towards closing those gaps. And that to me is something that, both I get a lot of value from, and I think our customers get a lot of value from as well. It's that's honesty, that self-realization, self-awareness, and being open about things that you're lacking or the things that you could do to improve, and I suppose taking the steps to work towards it. So both of those things I
think are incredibly important, especially when you're dealing with customers on a daily basis, and that's something that we look for is that empathy on the consultant's side and the customer success side, but that also goes into different areas of the business. You have empathy for your customers, but I suppose you also need to have empathy for the people that you work with and for different areas of the business and, yeah, I think if we didn't have those skillsets as a requirement, the company would look very different. That foundation has given us the ability to grow to where we are now and do it at the pace that we've done it without losing sight of the reality and the focus on what we're trying to achieve.

- Yeah, it's a big shift, especially for HubSpot. I do know you released that, at Dharmesh's talk yesterday, actually did the majority's talk, he released the customer code, and I went on to the download after, which we'll put in the show notes, and it's around about 140 slides. I had a chance to absorb it, first thing I did is send it back to our team, and said, "Guys, get your head around this, this is the way forward." They liked it.

- That's it, I mean it's like, it's going back to the firewall, it's making sure that, we've seen that the customers who've had good experiences with us become the people who drive extra, the extra engine behind what we're achieving here. You know, people talk, people have networks, people meet up with different scenarios, people hear more, our customers hear from their networks, their colleagues and experiences, and if they're optimising and putting HubSpot into that conversation, that's a huge powerful tool for us to get out there, to unlock, and the more we do that and the more we focus on the delight, and the more we focus on adding value for our customers at every opportunity, the more they're gonna see how it's influenced them, and they can then extol the virtues of HubSpot to their colleagues at once. So that's been a huge focus for what we've been trying to do, and I think it also gets us to think a little bit more introspective about where we might have what we're calling sharp edges, where our customers might have an experience that jars a little bit with what the ideal scenario, that they're expecting will be. So Darmesh's obviously talked a lot about the process, and having that be the issue that that somebody's jarring off. And, you know. That allows us to look at those things and listen to our customers. We do NPS, just like we've just released the Service Hub tool, and we take and we listen and we read and we go through all that information to be able to digest things that could be different and could be improved, could be optimised, could be changed. And I think that's a very healthy approach to take. And I think one of the problems that you can have is if you ask for feedback, then don't action on that feedback, it creates disconnect, it creates a misalignment of expectations, and customers are left by the wayside and they're not having a great experience, and that impacts on your ability to sell more to more people. So I think it's brave to do it, if I'm honest. I think we could come up with the things that we hold dear and that we want to work towards within the customer code. Dharmesh at the end obviously showed the score card for us, and that's very transparent, it also can be a tough pill to swallow. You know, especially if some of the areas that we're holding ourselves accountable for are areas that we're not perfect at. Perfection's obviously very difficult to achieve, but we have a few steps to take in a few areas, so it's great to see us taking that direction.

- I agree, it's so powerful, NPS. What we tend to, we really look up to you guys at HubSpot. We let you spend 300 million an hour on daily redisbursement of copy. So we introduced--

- Why not?

- We introduced NPS into our business probably going on about six months ago, internally we start, so every Friday, and you guys can do this in your business, is every Friday we change NPS obstock, how was your week, how could we improve, and we also do it with our customers as well, every 30 days, as you know, us Brits tend to hold things in.

- Yeah.

- If we got an issue or a problem we don't think to say it, as they do over here in Boston, so sometimes if you're gonna lose a client, you don't what to do if they're in, so, just NPS, especially within our business, has just helped so much. And some things are hard to take. You get suggestions from the staff or this could be better in the start, it's a tough pill to swallow.

- Yeah, definitely is, but it's the fact that you're opening yourself up to putting yourself in a situation like that. You know, I think the most important thing about an NPS, whether it's internal or external, we do both. But the most important thing is that you're open to that feed. And you're creating a dialogue per. You're allowing the voice of an employee or the voice of a customer to be heard and most important thing is action. And you show them that you've done the changes and you've updated, or you've altered something to be able to give them a better experience. Ultimately I think if we look at the agency client's relationship, a lot the success of that comes down to an alignment of expectations. And an NPS can allow you to see if there's a misalignment there. You know if, you're going through a sales process with a customer, and you show them the case studies, and you've shown them the five, 600 percent increases that you've have for other clients. That plants a seed in their brain that they're saying that you should be getting those sort of results, and you know, understanding when they're expecting those results, or how frequently, or how high or how beneficial those results are. That's really important to know because if that expectation is on the client's side is higher than what can be achieved or what is realistic, then the relationship is doomed to fail. So the NPS allows them the opportunity to open up that conversation and just say, "How are we doing? "Can we do something different? "How are you getting on?" This is something that you can do across multiple stakeholders in your clients because you know, one stakeholder that you work with might be an important person in the business but maybe not holding that sort of gravitas or the weight, but you might be able to survey your EMPS the decision maker, who purchased it in the first place, but might not be heavily involved in it, and might not see the return that they're expecting, and having that opportunity just allows you to get a feel for what's happening and what your clients think. Because nothing bad happens from just asking your client to see if things are going the right direction. I think people get scared because then it's like, you know, it can be a raw wound and if your the person who's
responsible for that customer, it can be hard to accept right there.

- You know, the powerful as well is that again, from the talk yesterday, he brought up yesterday, if you get nine to actually ask for recommendations, it's really powerful that someone is going to recommend you to a friend if they get a good answer. That's something really staggering.

- I mean the world is built on reviews and testimonials and, you know, the power of that is basically social proof. It's basically saying these people are happy to put their name to the experience they've had with this client or company or service or whatever it is. And not asking for that is wasting an opportunity. You know, you can use that in so many different ways. In sales process to bring on new customers, or to realign or reset some expectations in certain ways. Your customers as we talked, as Dharmesh mentioned, the delight phase, they are the engine behind cranking that wheel and nothing going back to the customers who are having a good experience and using their testimonials, using their insights, is actually a missed opportunity.

- How are videos well social proof. Ten times more powerful to have a testimonial of a client than a written testimonial. There's just a lot of people who are still camera shy, so it's always worth asking a client.

- Definitely. It's harder to do. You know, there's some investment required. You know, we're sitting here with some pretty good equipment but not every agency has that. Not every client has that. But actually, it's not as big a jump to get into that as people might think. You know you can do something
very basic on your phone, like most iPhones, or most Androids have pretty powerful cameras built in on them, and you can go in and set up a tripod, make sure the camera's steady, with some light that you just connect in, and you're good to go. It doesn't, the gap from doing nothing and doing something is
actually pretty small. So you don't need to be a massive editor or know your, ins and outs of studios and the tools and the software, you can just get up and do it.

- (Mumbles) So you've, you actually tweaking about the title of your talk was Start a New Relationship Off the Right Way.

- Yeah.

- How did that go? Fortunately I was doing a podcast at the time.

- I was so grateful. I was just waiting there hoping that someone from--

- Excuse me, we have to do the podcast with John Dick, VP of marketing, so we spoke about what, Friday?

- Yeah.

- Well, yeah, how would you tell it?

- I really enjoyed it, yeah. There was a bit of jet lag in there, and but I looked down and there was a COP in the first one was packed and I had to do the second one straight afterward, but I think it's a topic that I hold quite dear to my heart. I see a lot of, working with a lot of the top partners and top agencies across the media, I see a lot of points, and I see a lot of bad relationships, and I've obviously been around for a few years, so I've seen every walk of life across the marketing community. And one of the things that always struck me was that in the process of doing it, can take a bit of time. So you can start a sales process off and you're setting the expectations in the sales process, you're giving them some anchoring about what they can achieve, and then when you kick off the full delivery and the full retainer, you know, you start with things like the strategic work and all of that, sort of investments, not only on the financial side for the customers, and which can be the software under the retainer that can typically pay from day one. But then you also have the investment on the staples and the time and energy it takes to actually commit to putting this sort of strategy in place and getting that knowledge from the people in the business to the agency so that they can build a program's structure. And that again takes time. So you could be three, four months before you're actually implementing
anything on those tools. And I saw that happen quite a lot. And I saw a couple of customers just getting a bit frustrated that they were spending money on the service of retainer and the investment and the sort of time. And they weren't seeing results. And the agency knows that they're not going to be seeing results because inbound takes time and it's a process. But ultimately the total I was hoping to get across, or the message I was hoping to get across is that there are a lot of things that you can actually do in the short term to help your customers see early value and work towards some goals, the long-term goals that they have, an do it in a sort of quick fire way. So there's everything there from how to implement the actual strategy and how to report on that, how to deliver on that, but ultimately it was 26 individual actions that you can take from now by whether the client needs customers, whether they need leads, whether they need visitors, or just as important is actually whether they need support. Whether they need some small thing that's really pissing them off, just solved. And agencies have that great ability to be able to go in, diagnose a problem and figure out a solution for it, but sometimes it can take too long to get there, so the hope was, we're helping to enable a lot of the agencies out there to really understand some of the things that they can do in a short space of time that will have a big impact on their customer relationship. So I enjoyed a lot and got some great feedback from it and yeah it was a bit nerve-wracking if I'm totally honest, but I'm trying to do a bit more speaking, and to get out there and put my name out there a bit, so hopefully I've gonna do some of that tips.

- Wow cool. How long is too long because some agencies can take too long to get back in your eyes, why is that, is that an hour a day, or a week? What's the best time, really, to get back to you?

- I mean, that all depends on your customer and what they're trying to achieve and what their need is, what their pain point is. You know if you're trying to build a relationship with a customer and they're starting from a pretty low base and you've got very aggressive goals set in mind, that can be very
difficult to move towards, but it all depends on the individual that you're dealing with as well. And for the agency to go in and understand what different personas they're going to be working with within that organisation, it could be somebody on the marketing exec side, someone on the social side, or it could be a sales director, a marketing director, or a CEO or an MD. And they each have different things that they want to achieve, and different people that they need to report into and you know, understanding that, first of all, is really important. The mechanics behind why people are employing agency. But also understanding the individual pain point and what the potential impact of not achieving, or not solving that pain point is gonna be. So how long is too long? Ultimately the 26 tasks
shouldn't individually take you more than two, three hours max. And I would say that you should prioritise two or three individual actions in the short term, like in the first. Ultimately you get the text sort of done, you implement all the tracking information, all the forums, replace all of that, put HubSpot in place, give them access to it, and then you can start pretty much immediately. And that means that you're showing the value of HubSpot. You know, one of the things that I love, and I think is the centre point for all of our technology, is the contact timeline. Right?The contact timeline is the power and the influence from the market tools, the sales tools, from the service hub, from the tickets, every single individual thing that we have feeds into somebody, behavioural data that sits in the contact timeline. So, for me, if you can go to a customer that you're working with and say, you know, here's three or four contacts that we've seen. They've come through the tools since we put in the implementation, the traffic cone in place, and this is what they've looked at, this is what they're interested in, this is what we thing they should be doing in the long term. This is the starting point, and this is what's helping us to build on top of that. Because the customers are looking at that and saying, "Right, this is the power point." This is the reason that we built a single tool to manage all of these different aspects of the importing, the clothes we've been reporting across the number of tool that we have. And most importantly, this contact timeline is the jump point for all of the other activities that we are gonna do. Selling and targeting, it's how we're gonna structure workflow, because we're gonna say this person's come in and they've booked this content and we wanna nurture them through this journey to make that we all find the fact of being with, they ultimately sign up for a meeting or a (mumbles) upon final offer, and you know the sales tools, this is how we're trafficking the evidence that's coming off these testimonials. You have the opportunity to advance them This is just so many ways that you can funnel that information to, as long as you're using the contact timeline, that's the best way of communicating that to your customers.

- Do you think you send that slide deco, which is awesome, to (mumbles) for these guys. I'm so interested. I 100 percent to agree with you. It takes so long if it helps at all. And inbound takes anywhere from six months, to 18 months. It's getting quick wins to add that value.

- Yeah you might end up losing the momentum of the sales process and ultimately losing the attention of your customers. Because things could take I mean, I'll definitely send over the deck. You might see a few references to Greece in there. Which might make no sense, but I'll let you guys try and build a story around it.

- No, that would be great, Robbie, thank you. So what's your plans for the future? I know we're chattin' about last night, everything's changing, what's gonna happen, or already happening in your current role?

- It's a very good question. I am delighted to think of HubSpot. I think, I feel that I have a proper future in my organisation, there's a few things that I've been working on project-wise, and I think potentially the starting point opening up a discussion around  tools that we can provide our partners, data that we have in HubSpot that we can enable both our teams internally and obviously the partner community externally. And we're starting to have conversations around the customer's side as well, so you know, I think the thing that excites me, the thing that gets me out of bed everyday is the fact that, first of all, I'm supporting partners and seeing gaps they might have and helping to consult. But also I'm part of a big organisation that actually, it's a big company, HubSpot is huge. But there's a lot of influence that you can have, if you've got a good idea, and you think you've got a message, you can put it in front of the right people and that will go places. So what we're very good at, is we're very good at picking an endpoint. We're very good at picking a goal that we wanna work towards.

- Yeah, yeah, and I agree. And the company itself asks everybody around to be able to figure out what are the steps that we need to do to get there. And that's incredibly powerful, it's sort of, it's empowering of the team, and it unlocks a lot of the ideas and creativity that are sitting in the heads of everybody around you and that's something that I am (mumbles) passionate about. And you know, I wanna continue to have a line in the future, so I don't see myself changing anytime soon. I think my role has changed a few times in the last year or two. I've had a very good journey already at HubSpot so I hope it will continue long into the future.

- Going back I've seen you blossomed very good into (mumbles) It's very great to fire up that imagination. So we're in Boston, the sun is shining, we're in the bar, we'll grab a beer after this. We got a day and a half left before Inbound finishes. Anyone in mind that you're going to see? Have you got time to see any more talks?

- I wanna see (mumbles), who's actually on now, ten minutes into her talk. She's got a very important
message of thinking. And I think that some of these speakers out there are fascinating, coming from all walks in life, but ultimately you have lots of things to share and insights to take from,and I believe we've still got, we've got a packed schedule of meetings as well so I'm not sure how many other sections I'll gonna be able to get to but I'm really looking forward to getting deeper into what we're doing with the product side and ultimately meeting as many customers and partners as possible in the next 24 hours. And then I'll probably sleep. I'll probably sleep for, I'll be Rumplestiltskin, is that his name? 40 days and 40 nights of sleep aside, as long as I get on my flight I think I'm okay. Somebody will help me get from the flight to home at some point.

- Have you got two minutes, I know you got to shoot, just chat a bit more about the conversation in part with the fire window. Again we chatted to John yesterday, some (mumbles) chat, I mean, do you want to elaborate a little bit more on that for the viewers?

- Yeah, I mean, if you look at what we've done in the past, you know, traditional inbound marketing has been, you've got a customer journey. Customer comes on, they ultimately start at the top of the funnel, they find some general content, they interact with it, they sign up and ride this trip through, they get access to that content through forums and I think even at Adobe I'm seeing a lot of people
get a lot more data conscious and data sensitive and you know the GDPR's been an amazing thing. It's been tough for us to figure how to address it, but ultimately it's a good thing, because we're starting to give a lot more focus and attention to the privacy concerns and data privacy concerns that our customers (mumbles). We need to do this. So, with that being said, people are a little bit more sensitive about how they use their information, who they provide it to, and I see the conversations too, of being a way of helping and giving value before you're extracting it. So I'm not saying that the
traditional conversion path is dead by any means. We've seen a lot of statistics around things like people who are outside probably won't purchase or statistically proven that they won't purchase unless the site has a chat function, because they need to have that assurance to ensure that they're at the right place and that they can ask the questions that they have, and we've also seen that if you get lead through your site, and you respond that lead, the shorter time that it takes for you to do it, the better opportunity you're gonna have. Which means people have short attention spans. They might say "Oh, I wanna talk about this." But if you don't get back to them in two days, that means you could end up losing that potential prospect, or that lead. So what I think we've done, I love the approach is
that we've taken something that's incredibly valuable, the chat filter, which in other cases is not a free tool, you have to pay and you have to purchase it on different platforms, but we've made it available to everyone. And there's a confidence there. There's an awareness about how powerful this is, and how much this could change. And more importantly, scale of what we're doing. You can use the technology
to be able to ask qualifying questions and channel those people down in different directions or move into a chat with an actual person once they've gone through qualifying questions and the user, the person who's visiting the site is getting a huge amount of a value because they're getting an immediate response. They might not know it's not a real person, but that's pretty beneficial, they're getting the value they're looking for. And then the company or the agency is getting the value because they're helping to scale the teams they have and make sure that they're talking to right people at the right time, so I think it's incredibly valuable and it's a brave move for us to do it but I think it's gonna have such an impact on what we're trying to achieve, and more importantly, the conversion rates of the customers and the way in which we interact with the tools that we have available to us so I think it's the future. I think if we can start to programatically provide data and valuable information using these chat functions, it's a huge opportunity for us.

- It's a must. It's proven now, the slide from John's talk yesterday 170 percent increase in HubSpot's landing page, in consequence of the chat function. We did it nine months ago. Our sales have increased as you know. Don't need to all our customers, their sales is just a win-win. It's a must, so for anyone listening, if you haven't got chat on your website,

- Get on it.

- Just get on it.

- And it's really easy to do, you know. Like, you can have a chat bot up and running in 10, 15 minutes. And that is, that's not as, you know, that it hasn't been that easy before. And there's no reason not to be doing it. I'm in two minds, if you got a lot of traffic I think the key is that you make sure that you're
putting it on the pages that are high value and high potential, so your pricing page or your bottom of the funnel offer and, but then you have a bot that sticks on the other pages to be able to help provide that value for people you're visiting, so using it is smart, but smart doesn't mean it's gonna take you hours and hours of setup, smart just means your being sensible about how you do it.

- I always like to ask this last question. Give us one tip. Give the viewers one tip, in-house marketers, that they could quick win, basically in their business or in their client's business.

- Quick win. I mean, I have 26 of them, trying to figure out one that--

- Yeah, yeah.

- It depends, is this someone who is currently in a role, or using HubSpot who has been around for awhile,

- Yes, the guys are in a role, they're using HubSpot, they've actually been an in-house marketer, for their company.

- Quick win. I would, I mean, we were talking about testimonials. You know, ultimately the NPS and the testimonial, people aren't using them, nobody uses them. You know it's a tool that sits there and the value you can extract from it is huge. But again it's that bit of scary thing of getting in there so if we talk about the flywheel and the delight stage, your customers are the power behind them. And you should be supporting your customers and getting additional value and obviously they'll be looking to upsell or cross-sell or make them re-purchase again, and that's adding value, but ultimately you're
trying to get information that you can subsequently use for future prospects. So first thing I would do
is make sure you're getting the NPSA for the promoters, make sure you're getting some testimonials from them. For the tractors, use that feedback wisely, create discussions around it internally, how can we approach this differently, and make sure you're getting back to the customers as well, it's not necessarily a marketing task, but it's a huge value add for the whole business.

- (mumbles) I really enjoyed talking to you.

- Likewise

- Finally! (laughter)

- I know yeah. I feel like we did two podcasts, one last night with the free beers in our hands and one the next day. There's less swearing today though.

- Thank you so much.

- No problem, have a good day.

- Okay, hope you enjoyed that, guys, I certainly did. Take care and we'll see you next week. Okay, thank you.


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