For your startup to stay ahead, listen to your customers, accept ideas from your team, but always keep the core problem top of mind
Every worthwhile project starts with a problem to be solved.
You identify something that could be improved. You realise nobody has done it before you, or at least, nobody’s done it well enough.
When you’re driven forward by a concrete issue you want to resolve, it gives you a sense of clarity. You adapt and innovate, you pay attention to the details, and you know exactly what success and failure mean to you.
To do good work, you need good tools
Years ago, I Co-Founded Pronto Marketing, a digital marketing company. I used to be in charge of our customer service and production teams.
At Pronto, we used Zendesk to share CSAT and NPS surveys with our customers. But the data we received through these surveys was functionally useless.
Our CSAT (customer satisfaction) score was around 99 percent. That sounds impressive, but it didn’t match up with reality. Our customer service was far from perfect. People just weren’t motivated to give us more information. When they were unhappy, they canceled instead.
Without good feedback, Pronto was stuck. We wanted to improve the quality of our service, but we didn’t know what we needed to work on.
We also had a problem with our NPS (net promoter score) feedback. We’d manually send out emails asking customers whether they’d recommend our company to others. It took our team way too much time to send these out and then process the responses. Our normal operation was halted every time we collected NPS data.
We needed better ways to gather and process customer feedback. And it needed to be an automated, effortless part of our workflow.
We tried a few existing customer feedback tools, but they weren’t getting the job done. Some were overpriced and had a steep learning curve. Others came with a host of new problems.
My team and I decided to do something challenging but worthwhile. We would build a new feedback management tool to solve our needs. So, we created Simplesat.
You know your needs better than anyone else does
Even before Simplesat took off as a company, my team and I had a clear list of goals.
We wanted to build a survey tool that would:
- Encourage respondents to give honest and detailed feedback
- Centralise customer feedback data and make it easy to examine segment and share
- Make it effortless to respond to customer feedback very quickly (before frustrated customers decide to cancel their subscription)
It took us a ton of research and experimentation to build a tool we were satisfied with.
After reading David Willemsen’s The Measurement of Customer Satisfaction, we decided to use the SERVQUAL model for measuring customer service along multiple axes. Multi-question surveys proved essential in getting past the problem of high but uninformative rating scores. Customers are willing to share how they really feel if they receive the right questions with the right timing.
We knew from personal experience that design was crucial for engagement. We looked at animations and video games while prototyping our survey designs, and we also took inspiration from Tinder’s swipe feature. Simplesat surveys had to be eye-catching, friendly, and straightforward – everything we liked to see as customers!
We also made them customisable from the get-go. As a brand evolves and branches out, its customer feedback surveys need to change too.
When we developed Simplesat’s dashboard, the keyword was simplicity. We made sure that the data was easy to visualize. In addition to our charts and leaderboards, we made it effortless to retrieve individual pieces of feedback and create filters. Sometimes, it’s necessary to drill down on specific problems to get the whole picture. We knew how frustrating it could be to work from half-remembered feedback comments.
All in all, our feedback management tool was built to solve problems, not create new ones. And we soon found out that there was a need for that in the market.
Sharing the solution with the world
Pronto’s clients loved filling out the new surveys. They started asking if they could use them with their own customers. Simplesat split off from Pronto and became a company in its own right.
Since then, we have improved the product based on the needs of our clients.
That meant a paradigm shift to a service-oriented approach. We had the bare bones of an excellent product, but we still needed to make sure that all of Simplesat’s customers could use it with intuitive ease. We wanted to give them the same peace of mind that we built for ourselves.
Some of the things we had to work on:
- Improved UI
- More survey types – we added CES surveys as we went along
- Integrations with other tools
- Quick responses to customer suggestions and complaints
Our team grew, and we made sure we had a robust customer support system in place. We did our best to remain flexible and open to changes. We made some mistakes. It was possible to remedy these quickly because we kept close track of customer sentiment.
The team’s main motivation remained the same as always.
We believe that customer feedback needs to form the basis of all big decisions, that it takes effort to get good data, and that feedback should never be wasted.
With this philosophy, growth was relatively painless for Simplesat. Our clients did some of the work for us, telling us what their pain points were. We kept listening, as we’d once been in their shoes. We remembered what it was like to see customer feedback as a burden rather than an opportunity.
Don’t let your spark fizzle out
I know it’s not easy for new businesses to stay on track. Leaders and teams alike may lose motivation, and chaos is inevitable in the early days. Optimism isn’t always enough to keep a project going.
My main advice to entrepreneurs is this: harness the power of your frustration.
Listen to your customers, accept ideas from your team, but always keep the core problem top of mind. That’s what should drive you forward. It will give you answers when everything else seems vague or negotiable.