Learn / Case Studies / Hussle
How Hussle’s ‘folder of pain’ helps improve their product and spot a bug a week
Luke—a Product Lead at Hussle —uses Hotjar to survey every churned user, spot revenue-damaging bugs, and ensure each new launch runs smoothly.
What is Hussle?
Hussle is an online marketplace for gyms and spas. (Luke describes Hussle as the ‘Airbnb for gyms’.) Essentially, Hussle connects you with all the best gyms in your area, and provides day passes or MultiGym passes that include digital fitness apps.
Luke, who joined Hussle 18 months ago as a Product Lead, jokes that his role is basically to “ship things”—a sentiment most product people can probably agree with.
But, of course, it’s more nuanced than that. He describes his role as prioritizing what to build next:
“I help shape what we ship by prioritizing why we should build certain things over other things—based on both user and business needs.”
A typical day for Luke involves checking his inbox and Slack channels to see if Hotjar has identified anything he needs to act on before he heads off to daily standups with his tech team. Sometimes Hotjar alerts him to things he wasn’t expecting, but Luke specifically looks for:
Churn interviews: survey responses from users who have left Hussle
New feature analysis: recordings of people using Hussle’s latest features
Broken user flows: spotting users getting stuck and figuring out why
Discovering bugs: identifying issues he wasn’t aware of before
Let's take a deep dive into each point as Luke explains how Hotjar gives him the product experience insights he needs to build a better product for his users.
How Luke used Hotjar Surveys to interview over 1,000 churning users
Like most product managers, Luke cares deeply when a user decides to cancel their subscription: it’s his responsibility to build features that delight users and keep them hooked on the product. If users are leaving, he needs to know why.
That’s where Hotjar Surveys come in. Hotjar automatically sends a survey to every churned Hussle user right after they cancel their subscription.
The timing is essential here. Luke could send a survey to everyone at the end of the month, but that would be too late. To capture reliable feedback, he needs to hear from users as they’re leaving.
At the time of our chat, Luke had collected over 1,000 responses and made the effort to read them all.
"I don't like to get emails from Hotjar saying 'Here's another Survey response' because it means someone has canceled! But it's vital information, and I read every single one."
Each survey response tells its own story and can help Luke identify small bugs, or discover larger UX or PX (product experience) problems. To help make sense of all the survey data, Luke exports responses into a CSV before clustering common reasons into themes.
Initially, this process revealed three key churn reasons:
Hussle's service was too expensive
The user moved location and no longer needed the service
The user bought a contract directly with a gym
That last point stood out to Luke and to Jamie Owens, Director of Fitness Partnerships at Hussle:
“Hussle’s two key principles are increasing participation in physical activity and generating revenue for operators. We know from other research that 26% of users who use Hussle go onto join the gym directly. We wanted to professionalize this service.”
Hotjar’s cancellation surveys helped echo similar research findings and ultimately led to the creation of a new Hussle product. The Membership Conversion Service (which Hussle is piloting with some gyms now) offers users the ability to buy gym memberships through Hussle. Luke adds:
“We know there are users who land on our site who might not need a MultiGym pass. Our hypothesis is that we get a lot of visits from users who are looking for a Gym Membership. So these churn reasons helped inform a brand new product offering. We ask users a few questions on-site, and based on their answers, we recommend them a personalized pass.
If they’re more suitable for a Gym Membership, then we want to help them buy one. This not only supports our gym partners but also reduces our churn. This helps us understand what our customers want and frames Hussle as a one-stop-shop for any fitness pass.”
It wasn’t Luke’s intention to use exit surveys for this reason, but it shows why they're so important to have, in the first place. Ultimately, they're likely to reveal insights. Luke says:
“We send out these surveys to every single churned user and probably get a few insights every single day.”
What Luke learns from watching eight minutes of Hotjar Recordings every day.
Product managers tend to obsess over user journeys, and Luke is no different. Every time Hussle launches a new feature, he’s desperate to see if people are using it in the way he expected.
“Have users clicked on the right button? Did they visit the right URL? Did they understand the concept?” These are questions Luke needs to answer after every launch, and he uses Hotjar Recordings to help.
The concept behind the Personalised Pass Builder is to ask users a series of questions and, based on their responses, recommend the best pass to meet their needs:
For example, recently the folks at Hussle launched a Personalised Pass Builder.
If they want to go to a single gym lots of times, they’re perfect for a gym membership.
If they need access to more than one gym near home and work because they travel frequently, they can build a MultiGym pass and select the gyms they want to access.
When the Personalised Pass Builder launched, Luke dived into Hotjar.
“I open up Recordings to watch people using the new feature. Immediately I’ll spot things I wasn’t expecting—stuff like:
Why is that user hitting the back button at checkout?
Why did this user immediately change their options?
Why isn’t this user heading to the next step?
Do users understand they can build a pass, or why we automatically include other gyms when you add one to your pass?
"I build hypotheses around each of these and test them in future product iterations.”
For Luke, shipping the product is only the start. He’s keen on continuous discovery and wants to continue to improve the product week on week. To do this, he couples Hotjar Recordings with user testing: “It’s a powerful thing—I spot insights in Hotjar, implement a change, then test with users.”
With Recordings, Luke and his team have the data they need to make dozens of small but vital changes. They don’t wait for feedback to make its way back to them organically. They learn from the user, in the moment, to create a product that delivers.
"I try and watch eight minutes of Recordings, every single day. Sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less. I think it helps you be really close to the user. Rather than guess, I can watch—and this helps us stay focused on building what’s right for the user."
Luke’s Slack channel of ‘absolute pain’ (and why you need one too)
With thousands of users at Hussle, there are bound to be a few unhappy customers.
Luke says the goal at Hussle isn’t to make every experience perfect (that’s impossible) but rather to identify problems quickly so they don’t happen again.
So, how does Luke sift through hundreds of hours of Hotjar Session Recordings? By setting up some basic filters:
Rage clicks + Slack integration = Prioritize the right changes fast
Luke isn’t alone in the Slack group; he’s joined by Hussle’s Customer Experience Manager, who watches rage click Recordings and quickly checks if there's a problem affecting all users. She does this by checking support tickets and looking at a Heatmap of the page to see an aggregate of where users click, scroll, and move.
If the problem is affecting all users, she lets Luke know, and he puts it on a Monday board to deal with the following day.
“I have no idea how many hours we saved or how many users we’ve helped as a result, but we couldn’t spot these issues without Hotjar.”
Quick disclaimer: Hotjar isn’t just used for a folder of absolute pain. Luke also has a Slack group called “People having a great time - via Hotjar”, showing users behaving exactly how Hussle wants them to—a perfect antidote to keep morale high!
How to spot and solve product bugs every single week
At Hussle, Luke is responsible for users signing up for the corporate Hussle subscription. To capture feedback, Luke placed Hotjar's Incoming Feedback widget on the signup page. The feedback widget helped him spot a major problem:
Users were saying “it’s impossible to register.”
In the past, Luke would have to get in touch with these users via email or phone to understand what happened. But with Hotjar, he can grab the user’s ID then head to Recordings to see precisely what happened.
“The problem became clear after watching Recordings. The user was trying to sign up for their corporate Hussle subscription. But Hussle hadn’t received the payroll number from that user yet. We need the user’s employer to send over the payroll number to prove they work for the firm and qualify them for the employee perks.”
This only affected a handful of corporate clients, but that’s potentially hundreds of people having the worst possible user experience with Hussle. Fortunately, Luke caught the issue early on with Hotjar. He’s now implemented changes to the error message that tells the user they may need to wait a few days, and to get in touch with their HR department to send over the payroll number.
One of the impressive things about Hussle’s team is the speed at which they work.
“Without Hotjar, it would take me at least two weeks to find the issue—and that’s assuming I find it in the first place. With Hotjar, we found the issue last Wednesday and we’ve already got a solution ready to publish in development on Friday.”
With Hotjar’s help, Luke was able to spot a serious issue before it impacted hundreds of users.
I find Hotjar gives me empathy for the user. I can see their experience directly and notice how frustrating it can be, and this gives me real empathy.
You know that your registration form works. So when you get feedback that it isn’t working for a user and you then watch the recordings, it makes you think ‘Well actually, the user can't do it.’ They're not wrong.
And we need to take it seriously. Without Hotjar, it's harder for me and the team to empathize in this way.
You can’t help but think Hussle’s users are in good hands. With Luke at the helm, it’s clear they’ll be using a product that’s uniquely designed to match their needs.
And that’s the real story here.
By using Hotjar’s full range of features, Luke can continuously learn from Hussle users. He’s first to know when there’s a problem and can prioritize improvements that will really help. This is great for Hussle—but it’s even better for Hussle’s users.
With Hotjar, Luke’s been able to:
Identify a bug that would have stopped dozens of users from buying
Collect over 1,000 Survey responses from users who canceled their subscription
Watch over 73,000 seconds of Recordings (including the infamous ‘folder of pain’)
Spot and fix a bug once a week
Downgrade to Hotjar’s free plan during the pandemic while gyms were closed (without losing any data) before returning to the paid Business plan
“We really love Hotjar. I share all the insights I find with the team. We get the Customer Success Manager to watch Recordings. UX person to watch recordings. Devs watch recordings. It’s a team effort. It’s democratic learning."
Luke spends eight minutes a day watching Recordings, and fixes one bug a week.
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