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The Net Promoter Score

What is it, what does it measure, and why does it matter?

While perusing Team Rubicon’s open initiative you may have noticed a new metric: the Net Promoter Score. What is it and what does it measure? BLUF: it’s a grown-up version of those “Do you like me? Yes/no” notes crushes used to pass to each other in middle school.

The inclusion of this metric is an effort to better understand not just what we do, but how well we’re doing it. As the number of work orders completed (also known as homes serviced) during our Hurricane Harvey response grew, we wanted to ask those we served “how are we doing?”

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is similar to customer satisfaction, but is more useful in measuring a client’s feelings about an organization as a whole, as opposed to a one-time evaluation of a single transaction or service delivery. The NPS was developed by Fred Reichheld and introduced in a 2003 article in the Harvard Business Review. Basically, the NPS measures an individual’s response to one simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend Team Rubicon to a friend or colleague?

Responses are measured on a 0 – 10 scale (0 being the least positive and 10 being the most) and responders are categorized into Promoters (those who respond with a 9 or 10), Passives (7 or 8), and Detractors (0 to 6). Promoters are those who will champion Team Rubicon to others, Detractors are those who aren’t too pleased with our existence, while Passives are the equivalent of a shrug.

The NPS is then calculated by taking the percentage of Promoters and subtracting the percentage of Detractors. Pretty straightforward, right? But what does this tell us?

This NPS is the net satisfaction among clients served by Team Rubicon


Well, a lot actually. First, the NPS is a measure of how good we are at what we do. It’s all well and good for us to sit here and say we helped 500 households and it was worth a million dollars, but what does that say about the quality of our work? We aren’t in the business of responding to disasters just to get a nice high value number (though that’s always nice). We’re in it to help those in need and try to get their life back to some semblance of normal after a disaster. In short,, we want to make sure we’re good at delivering impact.

Secondly, the NPS doesn’t just measure one element of an interaction with Team Rubicon. It’s framed to capture our clients’ entire experience. From when we first contact them to when we pack up our tools after a hard day’s work. While we could just ask about the quality of any given muck out, we care about the entirety of the client’s experience with us. Team Rubicon isn’t just about rebuilding a structure, it’s also about helping someone rebuild their life.

Lastly, we ask our clients open-ended questions like, “What else do you wish Team Rubicon could provide for you?” and “Is there anything else you want to tell us?” Asking our clients to put into words their feelings and wants is extremely valuable to us. By looking at the different categories of respondents, we can identify patterns of things we aren’t doing well and need to correct, things we are crushing, and service opportunities we are missing. These client surveys are an important source of information to help Team Rubicon continually improve upon kicking disaster ass.

We also conduct this survey with our volunteers to ensure their experience is meaningful and positive (currently, our volunteer related NPS is around 79%). In many ways, this embodies the ethos of Team Rubicon: disasters are our business, veterans are our passion. Both of those components operate together to make something more than the whole. Satisfied and fulfilled volunteers serve disaster stricken communities better, and this work helps us all fulfill our primal need to serve.

That’s why we started to prioritize collecting and monitoring our NPS –it measures what people think of us and asks them to tell us what matters to them. And to us, people are what matters most.

Andrew serves as Team Rubicon's Training Product Development Associate. Andrew was born at West Point from a long line of Army vets and graduated from Penn State with a degree in economics and a minor in international relations. He’s been lucky enough to live in Germany and England as a kid, studied abroad in Tokyo, and is now a reformed expat having returned to Los Angeles after 8 years in Australia where he completed two graduate degrees, volunteered as a lifeguard, and successfully survived sun exposure. He also likes tacos and puppies.