Bain and Company’s Stu Berman joins Robbie to talk about what makes the Net Promoter System (NPS) Loyalty Forum itself so powerful for the members and for Bain. They also explore how the best organizations build customer-centricity into the fabric of their businesses, a core value of NPS. They discuss the value of creating a private community for senior executives across different companies to meet and discuss, how a subscription can be used to deepen relationships with key customers, and the importance of always listening to your customers first.
4:10 – How the NPS Loyalty Forum remains an open environment for members to speak about their companies without holding back
10:08 – The origin story of the forum – how Fred Riechheld’s book lead to one of the most powerful discussion rooms
12:50 – How the forum has created a community that members never want to leave
15:00 – Subscription as a marketing tool or strategic element
16:17 – The benefits offered by the forum to keep its high-profile members engaged and open
19:20 – Stu gives a look inside the Loyalty Forum and the types of conversations that its members love so much
24:10 – Changes in the world of NPS and securing loyal subscribers over the past decade
28:03 – Stu’s advice for smaller firms and subject matter experts on creating a community around their practice or expertise
31:10 – Robbie’s Speed Round
Robbie Baxter [00:00:00] For context, this interview was recorded in July of 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robbie Baxter [00:00:11] We all want a business like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Businesses where once a customer engages with them, it becomes automatic and a part of their lifestyle. From then on. But how do you build that Forever Transaction? I’m Robbie Kellman Baxter. And I have been studying subscription and membership models for nearly 20 years. In this podcast, my guests and I share the secrets and strategies of the Membership Economy. Join us for Subscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches. Welcome to the show. It’s your host, Robbie Kellman Baxter sharing subscription stories with you. One of the most popular metrics for measuring customer loyalty is the net promoter score. NPS is a key component of the broader net promoter system. First introduced by Fred Reichheld of Bain and Co. in an HBR article and then in his book The Ultimate Question. Today’s guest, Bain and Company’s Stu Berman, has built and runs a community called the NPS Loyalty Forum. The forum is a group of senior executives, usually a business leader or a senior executive in charge of customer experience who learn from each other, and from Bain experts, how to grow their businesses profitably through customer and employee loyalty. In this conversation, you’re getting a two for one. Stu and I talk about what makes the NPS loyalty forum itself so powerful for the members and for Bain. But we’re also going to talk about how the best organizations built customer centricity into the fabric of their businesses, a core value of the net promoter system. This is a great example of how a subscription can be used to deepen relationships with key customers between engagements and how to create value through community. Let’s jump in. Hi, Stu.
Stu Berman [00:02:15] Hi, Robbie.
Robbie Baxter [00:02:17] So let’s dive in a little bit on what the NPS Loyalty Forum is. Can you describe it? What do you tell somebody when they’re thinking about joining it? And how do how do your members describe it to one another?
Stu Berman [00:02:30] Sure. The forum is a discussion group, essentially, that gets together, at least historically before the pandemic. We would get together in person four times a year. Each time was about a day and a half long, and each meeting was hosted by one of our members. And the goal when we got together was to essentially share ideas about how do we get our customers and employees to love us more, to love us so much that they run around and tell their friends and family, you need to buy from these companies, you need to work at these companies. And so they’re always sharing ideas about how what are some of the things that they’ve done that have worked really well. And they also share things that maybe haven’t worked as well that that they can all learn from each other. So it’s a group of senior executives, typically from companies and businesses around the world. Some of you know, many of them are loyalty leaders in their industries. The group is probably about 75 percent North America based twenty 25 percent European based. The group is I always joke we’re about 75 percent B2B and 75 percent B to C, because a lot of the group is has elements of both. So if I told them to choose one or the other, they might struggle with which room they should go to. But the group is split pretty evenly between B to B and B to C and the typical member from each company. And there’s one person that’s typically the member from each company is the most senior executive with responsibility for customer experience in the company. It could be a business leader. It could be Chief Customer, Officer, AVP, SVP of Customer Experience. It really kind of depends on who the company is as to who the person is. But the goal is to have it be a senior executive network appears.
Robbie Baxter [00:04:10] Are there competitive businesses that are members?
Stu Berman [00:04:14] Typically, no. There are some times where there might be competitors on the margin. And the reason we don’t allow competitors in the room is we want the discussions to be very open and forthcoming then. So first off, we have a nondisclosure agreement so people can share what they want at their companies, but they can’t share it outside of their companies. And then adding in the fact that there are no competitors in the room means people really feel open to sharing anything and everything. And it always catches people a little bit off guard when they come to their first couple of meetings, just how open everybody is about all the different things that they’re working on. And so, you know, occasionally there might be some competitors on the margin, but we want to ensure, like typically what will happen is if a new executive will come to me and say, I’m interested in joining, I might ask you now, who are your top competitors? And if one of their top contenders is there, we wouldn’t allow it. But if there’s somebody that’s a little bit more on the margin, I would go to the member in question that’s already there and ask if they would feel comfortable and kind of the acid test, as if you were hosting a meeting and your CEO walked in the room how you feel if they looked over and saw that somebody from this company was there? And a related question is, is there anything that you would say if they’re not in the room that you would not say if they are? Because I really do want to create an open environment at the forum. And as soon as people start holding back, then it wouldn’t work too well.
Robbie Baxter [00:05:43] Ballpark, how many members might you have at any point in time? Just to give us a sense of scale.
Stu Berman [00:05:48] Yeah, sure. You know, historically, we’ve kind of been right around the 35 to 40 range and we’ve been consistently there for a fair amount of time now.
Robbie Baxter [00:05:59] The member is the person, not the company. Is that right?
Stu Berman [00:06:03] That’s right. Yeah.
Robbie Baxter [00:06:04] And other than there’s quarterly meetings which are hosted by the members. What are the other? Are there other features or benefits of this offering when you think about kind of what do you get for being a member?
Stu Berman [00:06:17] Yeah, you bet. There’s kind of my pre pandemic answer. So before the pandemic, the other stuff, typically we would do interim calls from time to time, not necessarily with any regularity, but it could be any topic where a member might say, hey, here’s something that I’m interested in. Maybe it doesn’t apply to the entire group and or maybe the member is not the right person to answer to talk about it. So one example is a few years back, we had a social media discussion where they said, hey, social media is important to our customer experience, but I’m not the social media expert in my company. And so we said, great, let’s do a call between meetings where everybody gets their social media experts on the phone and they can all share ideas with each other. And that was just a way to involve people that aren’t normally at the meeting. We’ve also done things like a CFO meeting where we say, you know, bring your CFO was to the meeting and we may we’ll probably do one of those again by telephone pretty soon. So that was kind of pre pandemic post pandemic, actually. You know, pretty much as soon as coronavirus hit, we switched over to an all virtual model for the time being. And we’ve been holding calls with our members pretty much every other week as a way for them to support each other and us to support them as best we can. So, you know, talking about what do you do in the face of this pandemic? And then the discussions lately have started to move more towards the how do you think about getting everybody back to work and whatnot in terms of what the members get? It’s all of the bi weekly meetings that we’re having now. Plus the longer quarterly meeting and we’ve scaled that back a little bit. Time wise, since it’s virtual and nobody wants to sit on a Zoom call for a day and a half, and then also they can ask questions of the members any time they want. They can ask questions of the Bain partners anytime they want. So we’re pretty open dialog between all of us. Yeah. And I would say those those are kind of the larger benefits. And then there’s also benefits to hosting the meetings when people have hosted in the past, which is they can typically bring their, you know, anybody they want from their company. So usually they have a few extra senior executives at the meeting. People from their teams come. So usually the host has ten or fifteen people in the room when we’re meeting in person. And it’s a way to just give them, you know. We also give them more time on the agenda as a way for them to go a little bit more in-depth on their story and share things that have worked for them, but also get feedback and advice on things that they’re they may be struggling with.
Robbie Baxter [00:08:53] What is the pricing model for this? Is this something that is just for Bain clients? Is it included? Is it something they pay extra for? Is it completely independent? How do you think about the pricing?
Stu Berman [00:09:06] Sure. So it’s it’s generally pretty independent. We were on the forum as essentially a break even endeavor for Bain. And so we charge an annual fee for the members. And the group is probably at least last time I checked, about one third Bain clients, one third past Bain clients and one third, other that, you know, that might be prospects or just people who probably will never be Bain clients. But, you know, and that’s also one of the nice things for me is that I don’t need somebody to be a Bain client in order to be in the room. They could be a great company, doing great things and wanting to get better from a customer experience and customer loyalty perspective. And it’s nice not to have to have that extra filter of, you know. Are you also Bain client? And so there are some people that have been in the room for a long time and and some of the best companies in the world. And, you know, they may at some point become a Bain client and then not. But it’s not a criteria for entry into the room.
Robbie Baxter [00:10:02] What inspired Bain to create the forum? Can you share the origin story?
Stu Berman [00:10:08] Sure. Fred Reichheld invented the net promoter score Fred’s longtime Bain partner. And so he put out an article in 2003 that introduced the net promoter score. It was called The One Number You Need to Grow. And then in early 2006, the book, The Ultimate Question came out. And that really kind of launched NPS to the world. And people would read the book and say, hey, Bain, you know, we saw a book. This is great. We’d love to figure out how best can we roll this out in our companies. And so we would introduce executive from Company A to the executive from Company B, an executive from Company B to the executive from Company C, and then finally somebody said, why don’t we just get everybody together in the same room at the same time and they can all share ideas with each other. And then we can be a part of the dialog too, because NPS is a concept that’s in the public domain like we have it trademarked. But people don’t have to pay to use it. Yes. But it doesn’t do us any favors. If they go out and try and implement NPS and do a bad job of it and then run around and tell people. Yeah, this NPS thing is not great. Yeah. And if we find out how they implement it, it’s like, well no wonder it is. You did a whole bunch of things that we would not have recommended. So having a group get together and share ideas about how best to implement it was hugely beneficial to that community and also to us to see how were people implementing NPS, you know? What were they doing right? What were they doing wrong? What were the roadblocks they were running into? So, you know, there’s benefits to us of, you know, helping develop this IP, but also develop a lot more understanding and expertise on what works and what doesn’t. Keep us close to a number of the world’s best companies by being in this community with them. And so that was kind of what led to the group getting together in the first place. And the original intention was really going to be twice a year. And we had the first meeting in October of 2006. And it was just it was like little more than half a day instead of, you know, the day and a half right now, it was like eight a.m. to two p.m. and around 1:30, Rob Markey, who co-wrote The Ultimate Question 2.0 with Fred and his longtime leader of our global customer strategy marketing practice, stood up at the end of the meeting and said, do you guys want to do this again? And they were like, yes, yes, we definitely want to do it again.
Robbie Baxter [00:12:37] What were the initial goals of the forum? Did you have certain metrics in mind that you were tracking against? Can you share what what the metrics were when you when you started?
Stu Berman [00:12:50] Sure. I don’t we don’t I don’t have a ton of metrics myself for the forum. Like, you know, at some point in the early days, I asked Rob, you know, what would make this a success? And he said, you know, break even financially for Bain and don’t mess up. Right. And and so, you know, even early days, we had like seven or eight companies at that first meeting. And over time, we grew pretty quickly to 20. And then it took a couple more years before we hit kind of the 35 to 40 that we’ve been kind of steady state. And so it was really, you know, from a metric standpoint, it was just, you know, are we breaking even from a other goals perspective that are a little bit harder to put metrics on? It might be things like, as I said before, developing intellectual property. And so we may have some ideas that will say, hey, here is something that we’re working on. We want to test it with people. The forum members are perfect people to to work with on on developing that. It also has definitely enhanced our reputation by making sure that NPS was done well by the members and kept us close to some great executives from some fantastic companies has really just helped us build out our expertise around customer experience and NPS. And so, you know, those were most of the goals along the way. Like, I’m not evaluated on this metric. It’s more of a nice to know that over time, historically our renewal rate is north of 80 percent. People don’t typically come for one year. They usually stick around for at least four or five. And as I mentioned a lot of times, if they leave, that’s because they’re leaving their job. But then they show up again. Some of them compete with each other like I’m going to be the first person to host from three different companies. And as I said, some of them, it’s not actually easy to put a metric on on some of those, but more just do we feel like this is working. And if it’s not working on any of these dimensions, how can we fix that? But those goals were pretty much what we set out with at the beginning, and we’ve stayed with them. I don’t think it’s changed too much.
Robbie Baxter [00:15:01] One of the reasons I really wanted to talk to you that I mentioned when I when I asked you to be on the show was that I think this is such a great example of a subscription or membership that is not by itself a profit center that is more of a either a marketing tool or a strategic element of a larger strategy. And the other thing that I think is really interesting and unique about this conversation is that your thought leaders, subject matter experts, process experts that do most of your work is very episodic in nature. Right. The big project, you come in and you do a big project, you help with some great advice, and then you might not see a client for some period of time. And this is a really different way to build deeper relationships and build and spread your expertise, which I think can work in a lot of different kinds of professional services, consultative kinds of business models.
Stu Berman [00:16:06] Yeah. I think that’s absolutely true. And, you know, as I said, it’s kept us close to a lot of people over time. You know, we’ve been doing this for 14 years and have seen a number of people come and go. But a lot of times they say, I’m leaving my job, but I’m not leaving the forum. And there have been at least a couple of situations I can think of where somebody being in the room or someone’s being in the room ended up winning them a job somewhere else because they talk to somebody at the meeting who said, oh, you’re looking. Here’s the job that I heard of. One person was at the meeting, ended up hiring one of the other people at the meeting.
Robbie Baxter [00:16:41] Yeah. I was going to say, in some ways, it’s almost like a professional association for a very specific, not just specific job type, because I know that there are a lot of different titles among the members, but a very specific point of view about prioritizing customer centricity.
Stu Berman [00:16:59] Yeah, I mean, even over the last 14 years that we’ve been doing this, I’ve seen so many more people with titles like Chief Customer Officer or Head of Customer Experience that nobody really or not many people really talked about before. The customer job is a hard one. And the Chief Customer Officer can be a lonely job. And so it’s really nice, I think, for this group of people to have other folks that they can turn to who are dealing with what they’re dealing with. I hear stories all the time of people saying, oh, yeah, between meetings I spoke to this person, that person, and they really helped me out with this issue or that issue. And, you know, I could tell you some funny stories about thank you gifts that got back and forth with them. But, you know, as I said, it’s like a family. And so I always when I hear of those stories, I try to celebrate them at the meetings. But, yeah, it’s kind of like an association in some sense. But, you know, as I said, it’s really allowed us to stay close to a lot of these people. And, you know, the you know, so back to the time to consulting. You know, sometimes, as I said, they may be at a client, but then they leave and go somewhere else. And, you know, maybe that company is or was a client. And, you know, maybe because they had a good experience with Bain from a consulting standpoint before or with the forum, they you know, when they land, wherever they land, that, you know, everybody wins from that, too. So we’ve seen a bunch of those situations.
Robbie Baxter [00:18:29] So something that a lot of organizations struggle with is they they want those senior people to engage in their community. Right. Whatever association it is or, you know, any kind of digital community, any kind of in-person community. I work with a lot of different organizations that say, but the senior people, they just don’t join and they don’t engage and they keep their cards close to their vest. How have you been able to, number one, attract very senior people who are so busy and yet they’re clamoring for four meetings? I mean, four meetings a year where you, you know, at least historically get on an airplane and maybe fly halfway across the world for a day and a half and then building that level of trust where they share such confidential or personal information. What do you think has allowed you? What are the tips that you would have for somebody else who is trying to build that kind of trusted and highly engaged community among senior people?
Stu Berman [00:19:21] Sure. I would say, you know, some of the things I mentioned earlier are helpful, like the NDA, the nondisclosure agreements that people know that whatever they say is protected. Having no competitors in the room also has been really helpful. I think also the tone for the forum got set pretty early days. Like there’s a story I remember from September of 2007. So, as you know, roughly a year into our go round. And one of the members said, hey, Stu, I want to stand up in front of the group and present my plan for rolling out NPS around the world in my company. And his company had hundred countries, hundred thousand employees. And so he stood up and he said, All right, everyone, here’s my plan. And tell me what’s wrong with it. Wow. And so he’s like, I want to get this all launched in the next twelve months. And people just looked at him and said, are you crazy? Like, there is no way you can do all of that in 12 months. Like, maybe you should think about it by rolling it out in a couple of pilot sites and get some champions and then, you know, test some new things and learn from that and retest and and then, you know, eventually roll it out a little bit more broadly. And, you know, 18 months feels like a more likely scenario. And instead of feeling defensive because it was his plan, he had a big smile on his face the whole time. And he just said, you know, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all of your input and advice. And it really has saved me so much heartache and stress. And so I think that kind of presentation really early on set the tone that it’s OK to come to these meetings and share the things that don’t work and or that you’re challenged with and you want some help on. And so in terms of bringing senior executives to the room, I think it’s helpful for them to know that they can show up and have some thorny issues that they want to discuss and get answers to those. I always tell them, you know, when you show up at a meeting, regardless of what we’ve put on the agenda, think about the three questions that you want to get answered while you’re there and then ask everybody, you know, we’ve got lunches, breaks, dinners, whatever. And during that time, make sure you ask people the answers to the questions that are most important to you. And that way when they leave they’ll have gotten some stuff that’s relevant to what they want to get into. You would ask, like, how do we keep some of the senior executives in the room? You know, how do we get them there in the first place and how do we keep them there? And some of it is it’s not just having other senior executives in the room, but it’s having the experts in the field. So people like Fred Reichheld, as I mentioned before, you know, guru on customer loyalty, customer experience, is like the father or grandfather that everybody always wanted. And people love, love, love, Fred. And so having him in the room is the kind of thing that keeps people coming back. People like Rob Markey, who, as I mentioned, is a Bain partner for 20, 30 years and ran our global custom strategy, marketing practice, having him in the room, leading a lot of these discussions. He’s seen it all in his days as a Bain partner. And so learning from him and having him push people and encourage them to try things and do things in a different way. They trust people like Rob and Fred and all the other Bain partners that are at these meetings. And so I think that’s the kind of stuff that keeps them there. And also, we’re very, very explicit that this is not an advertising for Bain. So we will never, ever stand up and say, and here’s why you should use Bain. I don’t want people to feel like they’re being sold to in this environment. So, you know, another piece of advice for people starting a community is we’ve steered away for the most part from having vendors in the meeting because I do want the meetings to feel like they’re a safe haven for people as opposed to coming and having somebody pitching them on this, that or the other thing.
Robbie Baxter [00:23:27] So I promised in my teaser at the opening that we were going to get a two fer with you. And I brought you in to talk about membership models, about creating a subscription or a membership within a large professional services consulting organization. And all the other things we’ve talked about how to build community, how to build community around senior leaders, all of those things. But it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the fact that NPS is something and building loyalty and loyalty expertise is something that every subscription business has to figure out, because if you don’t have loyal subscribers, they cancel. Right. You get a churn. So first of all, I’d love to talk to you. You’ve been been in this space with the as you said, you know, some of the the best practitioners in the world thinking about loyalty, engagement, building customer relationships, building for customer impact first. How is that change from 2006 to now? What are you seeing? You kind of alluded to changing titles, but what else are you seeing in organizations?
Stu Berman [00:24:31] I would say we’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go. Things like all the financial standards have been in place for many, many, many years. And for people to listen to their customers and try to understand how their customers are feeling and put some numbers around it. That’s still relatively new. Like we’ve been working on things like referral economics with the forum members for a long time. And it feels like it’s still something that not a lot of companies are doing. So there I would say that the ability to listen to customers and a lot of different ways, whether it’s surveys, social media, things like that, that’s really evolved a lot over time. But there’s still progress that needs to be made in terms of just, you know, one of the members at some point, we asked him when he was living his company, he was retiring, and we said, you know, what would you do differently if you had to do it again? And he said probably two things in my company. I let them get away with a one to five scale on net promoter for a long time instead of zero to 10. Because I wanted to make sure we rolled out NPS. And so I was willing to lose that battle to win the war. If I had to do it again, I would fight that battle because it’s much, much better to use a zero to 10 scale than it is one five.
Robbie Baxter [00:25:53] Because it’s more nuanced. Or why? Why does it matter?
Stu Berman [00:25:58] Well, you know, it’s a couple of things. So the reason for zero to 10 is just, you know, which direction the scale goes. Like if I asked you how likely to be to recommend something on a one to five scale. You might say, well, is one good. Or is one bad? Zero to ten. There’s no question about that. And then also just a lot more refined. I mean, think about it. If you’re in an Uber Lyft, how likely are you to give three stars even where I mean, most people are going to go either one or five. Right. And at least, you know, there’s a little bit more opportunity for choice when it’s your turn. Yeah. But then the other thing he said, which I thought was great, was I would have gotten my finance person on board a lot earlier, in the process, because once I got my finance person onboard, everything changed. And so, you know, this is one of the things that we’re working with the forum members on all the time is figure out the numbers, you know, understand what is the value of a promoter versus the value of a detractor in your organization. Because once you know that, you know, if you want to start making changes in your company, if the finance person knows, OK, if we remove this service that the customer is like, here’s what it’s going to do to our economics. It might be less likely to remove that service as opposed to we’re just trying to save costs. And so just trying to, you know, help companies give or take a more broader view of everything and think about what is the customer lifetime value for these people. So I think that’s that’s one of the things where I’ve started to see a little bit more work to be done. But as I said, there’s more that still needs to be done.
Robbie Baxter [00:27:32] OK. So I’m hoping that you can share some some more advice with the people listening, specifically advice for other consulting firms, professional services firms and subject matter experts who might not have kind of, as you said, the support and the infrastructure that a Bain would have if they’re thinking about building a similar kind of community around their practice or their expertise. What would be your top advice elements getting started?
Stu Berman [00:28:02] I would say first, just take the first step. Don’t feel like it has to be perfect out of the gate. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There have been things that we’ve tried along the way that may have worked better than others, but we’re always learning and always evolving. So I think just get started as opposed to waiting to feel like it’s perfect. I would say something else that would be very helpful is to pick a few what I would call anchor tenants. And so, you know, people who are kind of allies of yours who you would want to be in the room going forward and let them help you design it. Don’t pretend that you know everything about how you want these things to go. And so ask them, what are the topics you want to cover? How should the you know, how many people should be there? What other companies do you want in the room and just let them help you get it started? Think about doing kind of a sampler as the first meeting I mentioned before that the first meeting we had had seven or eight people and it was really like eight to two. And we said we just want to do a little bit of a quick skim across a bunch of topics and and give people a sense for what this could be and then see, OK, you know, if we’re going to do it again, how often do you want to do it? What, you know, who else would you want to see in the room? What topics would you want to cover? Things like that. So again, that’s part of the just get started. I would say, you know, if you’re thinking about kind of pandemics which, it’s not clear when this is going to end. But, you know, particularly as Americans, we can’t even fly over to Europe or anywhere else these days. So if you are going to launch something now, I’d say just be sensitive to the number of video calls that people are on and meeting fatigue. And so I mentioned that we had scaled back our big meetings. So the day and a half in-person meeting. Now, we’ve done we did one kind of video for longer for meeting, which was two hours, one day, two hours the next. And given the importance of the community, we also allowed for a bunch of networking time. So we did an optional, totally optional casual half hour before the meeting, an hour after four p.m. on both days for people to just come and shoot the breeze with whomever. You know, it’s like I would just use Zoom’s breakout function and send people off into groups of four or five just so they could talk about what’s going on for them, unstructured time, because they’ve told us how important that community is. And so. But again, that, you know, we did a number of calls before the scaled down forum meeting to ask them. All right, if we’re gonna do this, like, what’s the best way? Like, how do we shrink a day and a half down? And then, you know, we have people geographically, you know, from one direction, people in Australia from time to time and in the other direction over to places like Finland and Norway. And so a lot of time zones we’re covering. And so we just did it 8:00 to 10:00 am West Coast time. So we were able to catch as many people as possible. We had some people saying would have been nice if that were a little longer. Like, I feel like we were just getting started and we had other people, you know, like the Europeans were like it was at the end of my day, I’d already been on, you know, 10 Zoom calls. That’s about as much as I could take. And so it felt like in that regard, we had struck the right balance. Yeah. And particularly because we’re doing the calls every other week, we know that we’ve got a lot of touch points with them. So I would say a lot of it comes down to what is at the heart of NPS anyway, which is listen to your customers. And so if you’re going to build a community, get people who want to be there to help you design it and ask them what’s going to work and what’s not, and just evolve over time and keep listening and keep evolving. I’m sure it’ll work out.
Robbie Baxter [00:31:55] Yeah, very well said. And in your expertise as a kind of meta community leader, talking about community engagement really shines through. I want to close out with a little fun speed round if you’re up for it. What was your first subscription that you remember ever having?
Stu Berman [00:32:16] Sports Illustrated magazine. Probably when I was like in high school.
Robbie Baxter [00:32:20] Favorite subscription that you have now?
Stu Berman [00:32:23] Amazon Prime or actually, know what? There are a couple of wineries that I love in Healdsburg. And so I’ll give them a little prop. So I’m a wine club member at a place called Gracianna, which is awesome. Another one which is great is Dutcher Crossing up in Healdsburg. And so I’m happily a member of their wine clubs.
Robbie Baxter [00:32:45] Awesome. Maybe future guests. What do your employees, your team members love about working with you? And what do you think they find difficult about working with you?
Stu Berman [00:32:55] So I want them to feel like they have the power to make decisions about anything. So there are a lot of times where they’ll say, hey, Stu, do you want this or that? And I’ll say, what do you want? Because I want them to feel like they’re empowered to make their own choices. In terms of what they don’t like. I don’t know. Sometimes I get very busy with a bunch of calls and so don’t get back to them as quickly as they might like.
Robbie Baxter [00:33:21] Responsiveness. And then what would you say is your superpower?
Stu Berman [00:33:26] I have been very blessed in my life to meet a lot of people in a lot of different communities. And so I love having a lot of different families in my life, whether it’s the NPS Forum family, the Bain family. I’m a big soccer fan, soccer player. So I have seen the San Jose Earthquakes fan Family or the United States national women’s and men’s team, soccer families and. And so I would say my superpower is just being able to be a part of those communities and find ways to, I’m always trying to figure out how can I be a better member of those communities and help people out there. There’s one guy in the soccer community who, at the end of a week of soccer events, gave me a big hug. And he said, you’re the only person here without an agenda like everybody else that’s here is player, agent, team, staff, whatever. You’re here trying to figure out how you can make the community better. And I really love and appreciate you for that. So likewise, I’m always trying to figure out how can I make the forum a better experience for Bain and for all of our members.
Robbie Baxter [00:34:41] Maybe your superhero would be Community Man.
Stu Berman [00:34:45] I’ll take it. I’ll take. I’ll let you design the logo.
Robbie Baxter [00:34:50] Thank you so much. Stu. This was a fantastic conversation and just full of gems to help others, which is very much in keeping with who you are. Thank you so much for being a guest on Subscription Stories.
Stu Berman [00:35:02] My pleasure and good luck with the podcast. Thanks for having me. And thanks also for being one of our guest speakers at the forum.
Robbie Baxter [00:35:10] Pleasure.
Robbie Baxter [00:35:14] Thanks for listening, everyone. I’m Robbie Kellman Baxter, and this has been Subscription Stories. Today I was talking with Stu Berman, vice president of Bain and Company’s NPS Loyalty Forum. You’ll find more about Stu, as well as a transcript of our conversation at RobbieKellmanBaxter.com/podcast. To hear other success stories of entrepreneurs and executives creating their Forever Transaction in this new and exciting Membership Economy subscribe to my podcast wherever you listen most. Also, if you like what you heard, please take a moment and give me a star rating and write a review. Reviews matter so much in helping others find us. Thanks for listening and thanks for your support.
- Stu’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stuartberman/
- Bain and Company’s NPS Loyalty Forum: https://www.netpromotersystem.com/resources/the-nps-loyalty-forum/
- Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/
Stuart Berman currently runs the NPS Loyalty Forum at Bain & Company where he works to build forever relationships with customers, employees, and partners. He spent the early years of his career as a management consultant at Bain before becoming General Manager of Intuit’s online store. He then worked in startup companies for a number of years before going to work as a Group Product Manager at eBay. Stu obtained a BA with a dual major of Economics and Mathematics/Computer Science from Wesleyan University and an MBA from Stanford University. He has over 20 years of business management and development experience.
“The goal when we got together was to essentially share ideas about how do we get our customers and employees to love us more, to love us so much that they run around and tell their friends and family, you need to buy from these companies, you need to work at these companies.”
—STU BERMAN, BAIN AND COMPANY
Charity: water’s MZ Goodman joins Robbie to share how she is applying subscription model best practices to a nonprofit. They discuss how MZ leverages content marketing and digital community strategies developed in her work at The New York Times, Glossier and goop to build a donation-based subscription model, how they’ve leveraged a single 20-minute video to raise millions, and how to think about a Forever Promise in the context of engaging donors.