Companies succeed best when they care for their customers, and the data proves it. Companies with unusually high loyalty enjoy double the growth and experience 3x lower customer churn. But it’s difficult to study customer sentiment in an unbiased, granular, and consistent way, and Bain has always sought to help its clients find better ways to measure it.
“The first NPS Prism-like thing we built was back in 2012, for a big bank,” says Jason Barro, NPS Prism’s Founder. “We helped the client realize their customer loyalty gaps had more to do with how competitors were thrilling customers than how they were annoying them. That was a tremendous insight. You only get there with a double-blind survey of a big group of customers.”
Jason became convinced that even more frequent data could help clients’ executives resolve ongoing debates about what customers were thinking. And of course, no company had a better methodology to draw from than Bain. Partner Fred Reichheld invented the Net Promoter Score® (NPS), the most widely used methodology for measuring loyalty, which is what Jason and team were using to run their studies.
Jason began exploring the idea of turning NPS into a self-serve platform they could offer to clients.
Jason knew most companies were unlikely to solve their customer sentiment measurement gap on their own. “It was extremely expensive and difficult to do in an ongoing way,” he says. Clients were trying many things, but the data was never detailed or consistent enough. “When our new managing partner Manny Maceda called for ideas that could become $200 million businesses, I raised my hand and said, ‘I think I have one,’” says Jason. “I always suspected the chance to be an entrepreneur had passed me by. Now I thought, ‘Maybe this is my chance.’”
Jason got the green light to explore the idea, which was named NPS Prism. VP of product Xavier Argente joined and began building a team. Rahul Sethi joined as EVP to run the business itself.
Jason and team zeroed in on what client executives were running into: they were overloaded with customer experience data yet lacked reliable benchmarks. Their data was high-level and biased toward certain types of customers, whereas they needed it to be granular and unbiased. Jason and team also learned that they were selling to a new type of persona than Bain usually spoke to, who needed to measure that data over time, compare it to other companies, and more.
The early version of the software quickly showed that NPS Prism could be a business. “Then it became about, how do we not choke the growth of it?” says Jason.
Could Bain’s NPS work be turned into a product?
Who was the buyer and what were their pain points?
What should the user interface and experience be like?
What teams would be needed to commercialize it?
What structure should this venture take?
Jason, Xavier, and Rahul built out the innovation team, the data and analytics team, the commercial team, and marketing team. They focused on the core value that clients found so unique: consistent net promoter data. NPS Prism allowed them to, for the first time, measure customer experience performance in relation to products, channels, and journeys.
As the team grew, the successes multiplied. “If I think of important milestones, there was the first time we got a client to renew. The first three-year contract. The first time we sold into a geography that we didn’t think we would,” says Jason. “And there were technical things. The team started inventing features independently and the product began to look cool.”
There were lessons, too. “There was an early moment with a large client where the data came back funny,” says Jason. “The scores were too high. We were covering too many product lines. For a moment I thought, this is it. This is the limitation. But Xavier solved it.”
NPS Prism grew into a must-have tool for customer experience executives. “If we’re serious about earning our customers’ loyalty, we’re using tools like NPS Prism,” says Utibe Bassey, Vice President of Customer Experience at Dominion Energy, one of many successful NPS Prism enterprise clients. “It has given us the tools to set measurable goals around customer experience, insight into our customers, ideas for which fixes to focus on, and a sense of what internal levers we can pull. It’s enabled us to be better collaborators with colleagues across the company.”
Companies succeed best when they care for their customers, and to do that, they need more than intuition or mountains of raw, uncontextualized data. Jason, Xavier, Rahul, and the entire team have built a high-growth business within Bain to help companies realize that aspiration. “Frankly, I never thought I was going to get to do this,” says Jason. “I thought my window of opportunity to be an entrepreneur had passed. Seeing it come to fruition is truly rewarding."