Sharing economy startup Instacart working on their Net Promoter Score.

Sharing economy startup Instacart working on their Net Promoter Score.

I used Instacart for the first time last week. I had just returned home from a grueling travel schedule that included six flights in one week- a trip that ended with me suffering from your typical flight-induced common cold. Despite a precautionary purchase of two overpriced bottles of Dasani Water at the Hudson News store at each airport I visited, as well as constant hand sanitizer application, I couldn’t escape the wrath of that dry, recycled, Airbus air.

So instead of making the trek to my local grocer for the requisite cold remedies, I downloaded Instacart.

Instacart, as you are probably well aware, is the leading grocery delivery service in the U.S., valued at around $2 billion. A darling in the sexy on-demand economy.

Using the Instacart app for the first time was phenomenal – a great mobile onboarding experience, sleek design, and smooth UI. Within ten minutes, I had ordered a grocery load of overpriced fruits and vegetables from my local Ralph’s grocery store. An avocado at Ralph’s usually costs me about $0.79, but I gladly paid the $1.19 on Instacart while hydrating with some herbal tea and spooning a box of tissues on my couch. The groceries were at my front door within an hour. The next day, Instacart emailed me and asked me to rate my order. I gave the experience 5-stars.

I don’t know if my 5-star review triggered a follow-up email from Instacart, or if this is part of their normal email marketing cadence after someone completes their first order, but within hours of receiving the first request for feedback, I received a second email: “How likely are you to recommend Instacart to a friend?”

I couldn’t stop thinking about that second email this past week – that Instacart knew they were in a strong position (I had rated the service 5-for-5) so they sent an additional customer loyalty email, and got me, at my most excitable (and vulnerable) moment to contribute to their quest for a high net promoter score (NPS).

Companies, specifically consumer tech startups, are enamored with achieving a high NPS. And they should be. In business due diligence, it is one of the sexiest metrics around.  A strong NPS score, and the customer loyalty that comes with it, is a big-time value driver for VC firms, PE firms, or potential acquirers.

Don’t expect to raise a massive round of funding at a favorable valuation or be acquired for top dollar (or anything at all) with a poor NPS score. If your customers proactively go out and scream about your business from the mountain tops, then surely you must have a good product, a good service, and what is perceived to be a good business – in the eyes of the diligent.

Instacart asked me to contribute to their NPS research while they felt strong – their app was still a shiny new object in my life. Smart. When are people taught to ask for a raise? When they’re strong. Right after a huge milestone they’ve achieved. Right after the company crushed it’s quarterly revenue projections and their bosses aren’t stressed. Not after three straight missed quarters with the stock in the gutter. Instacart got the basics just right.

And while I don’t expect to use their service any time soon (strangely enough I enjoy grocery shopping at my local Ralph’s: the music reminds me of middle school, I get a kick from handpicking a perfectly ripe tomato, and as a creature of habit, its become part of my weekend morning routine) I would recommend Instacart to a friend.

It’s a nice reminder that you can create customer loyalty moments, close the loop, receive feedback, and get what you want (like NPS feedback), if your timing is right and you’re in a position of strength.

A positive customer experience and an inherently strong product or service can be the difference between a brand advocate for life or a missed opportunity. And with fourteen mentions of their company name in this post alone, looks like Instacart did more than just land one new user and NPS survey respondent. Who knew grocery shopping could be so magical.

2 thoughts on “Creating Magical Moments in the Grocery Aisle

  1. While it’s now the only way I shop, I see Instacart and other On-demand services as another tool in life’s toolbox. After a long week of work travel, I can grocery shop on the plane ride home and have groceries in my fridge the next morning. When I want more people to join for a brunch planned the next morning but my only obstacle is no time to go back to the store…you get it.

    NPS is a great tell. I just got asked by Shyp this week. And hell yes, I would recommend it. But I also think an important and simple metric for on-demand could be this:

    How many times per month do you think you’ll use this service?: 1 or less, 2,3,4 etc all the way to 10+

    I think that’s a big question that’s scary to have a customer answer. For instacart, it 4 for me. But maybe for you it’s still one or less. It doesn’t make you less delighted but I think can give on-demand startups some picture of the kind of new customer base they are acquiring and whether changes in their experience are having an effect on how often that base transacts. It could help them project decisions on how to become profitable if they have a sense of the LTV. Obviously they can also wait for the data, too, but perhaps this helps get out ahead of that moment of “oh, our current pricing assumes X amount of people use this service 5x a month, but the data we have matched with our survey to customers is averaging around 2x – what now?”

    Just some thoughts.

    Also, whole foods is same price as in store 😉

    • Hey Rachel! Agreed re: frequency of usage – that would be a very useful metric, specifically for calculating lifetime value and my loyalty to come back. Instacart got to me while they were at their strongest – and the app was still a shiny new magical moment for me, so even though I obliged with a 5-star rating, the frequency of usage per month will still be slim for me barring any extraordinary circumstances.

      That’s great re: Whole Foods’ price correlation within and outside of the app- I think that may remove a pretty big hurdle for users in terms of repeat usage – there is a bit of a sticker shock that likely contributes to first-time users dropping off if they are price sensitive.

      Anyway, at the end of the day the product flows very nicely, and the old lesson “If you don’t ask, you don’t get,” was certainly applied by the Instacart marketing team – they asked, they received, and got some feedback (perhaps more than they expected).

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