In this #mtpengage Manchester talk, Nilan Peiris of Transferwise talks about simultaneously growing a business and growing its people, and how the two aren’t at all mutually exclusive – in fact, it’s the exact opposite.
Money transfer service Transferwise has undergone phenomenal growth and now moves over £3 billion a month, saving its customers more than £3 million a day in bank fees. This rapid growth hasn’t been achieved by paid marketing; product evangelism has been the biggest driver of growth. Transferwise measures the number of customers who join after hearing from a friend – this has continued to grow and now accounts for 80% of all new users.
NPS has often been touted as a metric to help product teams understand advocacy, and it’s a metric used at Transferwise too. It has multiple benefits; you can measure against competitors, you can measure the value of advocacy, and you can measure the impact of major product changes too.
The benefits and challenges of NPS have been well-explored; if you’re interested in reading more Todd Olson wrote a great blog about this in 2017.
Nilan believes that if you can create more promoters than detractors that a business will grow, but that sounds far easier than it actually is. To really move NPS, you need to offer something to users that no-one has before. At Transferwise, the product pillars of cheap, easy, fast are their ways of bringing something unique to customers that banks have failed to achieve.
These are hygiene factors, so if they’re not present you’ll get detractors, and thus won’t grow. However, they’re useful as pillars as you can easily measure them, and that means you can easily understand the impact of the product team’s work. Growth comes from improving these measures, not chasing growth alone.
Nilan outlined five steps to achieve this in an organisation:
1. Find Your Mission
Mission-driven companies have a “wrong” that they want to make right in the world; they have a cause that they’re deeply passionate about. This takes them beyond being customer-led into being mission-driven. Nilan’s written about this previously.
2. Let Your Customers Lead you
It’s an old adage: “if you make customers happy you’ll make money”. This isn’t strictly true – you could also quite quickly go out of business! Transferwise reframes this as “Make customers happy, sustainably”. This can be counter-intuitive, as it means revenue isn’t a top priority in the short term, but in the long term it means the business will grow.
How do you do this practically?
- Define the problem you’re solving
- Define a KPI to track process
- Build stuff and try to improve KPI
3. Build Conviction
Only way to do this is by talking to people. Pick one thing and ship it, and keep doing this until you build conviction about what matters to your customers. If you’re simply testing everything you possibly could, that’s a sign that you don’t understand your customers.
4. Product Growth = People Growth
Your company growth is limited by the rate at which you solve customer problems. And the rate at which you solve customer problems is ultimately limited by the confidence your teams have to push boundaries and embrace failure. Creating a culture of personal growth where people aren’t afraid to push boundaries is key to product growth.
The key to scaling this approach is autonomous independent teams that focus on KPIs that make a difference to customers and drive growth. There’s a whole set of new problems associated with growing users and the business so fast – how do teams keep up with this? Not just recruiting more teams, but also people to lead those teams. Transferwise has got some bits nailed, but is honest enough to acknowledge that it has some way to go.
Nilan’s slide deck can be found here.
A big thanks to Laura for her help in pulling together this write-up.