Customer Success

Our Slack Customer Community Has Made Our Churn Rate Insanely Low

Our ProdPad community on Slack started out as a “Hey what if…?” What if we opened up a product community for our customers? If we build it, would they come?

There are a few reasons we were wary about jumping into this: Starting a community is hard. It’s hard to get people interested, it’s hard to create momentum and it’s hard to manage people in real-time.

It’s a major time investment no matter how you look at it.

But even as a tiny team of five at the time, our Head of Customer Success, Andrea Saez insisted she was onto something.

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There’s One Bulletproof Way To Politely To Tell Your Customers “No”

There’s a growing feel-good philosophy in customer support that manages to be both enormously unhelpful and ineffective at once: “When you want to be honest and helpful, there are situations when you need to say “no” and make it clear.”

In other words, hang up on your customer…politely?

I can’t imagine how we would have ever built a customer base at ProdPad if we took that kind of advice. Telling customers what you can’t or won’t do for them is not customer success. It’s lazy customer support.

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How Proactive Support Got Us To 100% Customer Satisfaction

Our users are incredibly important to us, and making sure they’re taken care of and are successful is our number one priority. We recently wrote a blog post about how we reached 100% customer satisfaction (which I am happy to report is still the case!) but being successful isn’t just about having the right tools, it’s about having the right processes and operations in place.

We believe in proactive support, not reactive, which has played a huge role in helping us provide such great services.

Because we love sharing our experiences, here are a few key points.

We watch everything

I know this sounds a little creepy, but we do watch your every move. While we don’t see nor have direct access to your data, we do track every single click and action that happens while you’re logged in. This allows us to monitor your onboarding experience, errors, and the app’s ease of usability. We have a robust API and internal tracking system that allow us to see how you work, and what your main areas of focus are so we can better provide you with the appropriate support.

Dealing with errors

Part of tracking clicks and usage is also monitoring errors. Whenever an error is logged, Papertrail sends us an email immediately letting us know what the error was, what the action was when it happened, and who the affected user is. We are usually able to reach out within a few minutes, check in with you, and provide you with a solution.

Recovering zombie clients

After careful consideration and monitoring, we’ve come up with a (somewhat secret) formula to tell us when clients are starting to slip away. As soon as this happens, we trigger an email their way checking in and asking if there’s anything we can do to help. 80% of the time we’ve been able to recover these zombie clients and re-engage them with the platform.

As a matter of fact, this is one of our most popular emails!

Predictive Analysis

While we are continuing to expand this area, we have already invested in predictive analysis. This allows us to get a more accurate view of what you look like as an active user, independently from another user’s habits. For example, you may only use ProdPad once or twice a week, but use it so effectively that you don’t need to log in anymore throughout the week. Another user may be logging in and doing work more times than you and is logged in for a longer time, and there are a number of factors that may affect their independent usage. We take all of that into consideration and counterbalance that over time – making sure that if your habits change, we are there to make sure you’re ok.

9 to 5 you say?

We don’t believe in 9 to 5. Plain and simple.

Our clients are located all over the world, so it would only make sense for us to provide them support while they’re awake, not whenever it suits us. We give ourselves enough flexibility to both answer your questions and give ourselves a balanced lifestyle. Sure, sometimes we go to yoga at noon, but that’s because our clients are asleep! Taking care of you (and us) is vital to keep this ship running smoothly. (We do sleep, we promise!)

 


What best practices have helped you provide excellent support? Join the conversation below! If you’d like to check us out, start a free trial today!

embrace user complaints

Why You Should Embrace Customer Complaints

Nowadays it is virtually impossible to ignore customer complaints. And I mean that literally.

With research from the Institute of Customer Service showing a significant increase in number of customers who turn to social media to replace telephone, email and website enquiries, it’s no surprise your company’s Twitter notifications are keeping you awake well into the night.

A dissatisfied customer is often an angry customer. And angry customers want to have their voice heard – with some research showing that 30% of people complain via social channels to vent negative feeling, and 23% are motivated by vengeance. So what does this mean for your business?

Complaints in the public domain aren’t just seen by you – they’re seen by your other users, and they can also be seen by your competitors. Ignoring the user’s complaint will most likely result you losing them as a customer, or worst case scenario, in a terrible PR nightmare. So there is really just one course of action: embrace customer complaints.

Accidents will happen, no matter how many prevention techniques you have in place. And what better way to improve those prevention techniques than to learn from your mistakes? Remember, your community is not only there to give you positive feedback, but also to help you learn from the negative situations.

Your frontline support team is there to assist the user and help the best way they can, but they aren’t always able to find a solution to the problem. Sometimes things break. So what can your team do next? Take action. By logging everything in a central system like ProdPad and linking similar feedback, you’ll be able to see patterns and form an idea that will allow to solve the problem at hand.

Fill out a business case, asking: what problem are you really trying to solve? What impact will this have on your platform and users? And of course, the magic number: how many users have asked for it?

When you have all that feedback logged, you can run test scenarios, beta releases, and ask for more information from the users directly. After all, who best to test new features out for you than your own clients! From the source to the source and back around, allowing you to work in an agile way and make sure your product is up to standards.

If you have a public roadmap, you’ll also be able to keep your customers (and your team) in the loop of what you’re working on, which gives them extra confidence that you are indeed listening to their feedback.

Once the feature is released, you can personally send an email to those customers letting them know that the new feature or issue is ready, and of course thank them for taking the time to provide you with the details necessary to make that happen. You’ll look like a superstar, and they’ll feel like you really value them – and you do! It’s a win-win situation!

Let us know your top tips for minimizing or dealing with customer complaints in the comments, or see for yourself how easy it is to manage customer feedback in ProdPad with a free trial!

product management venn diagram

How To Win At Nurturing Customer Relationships

We’ve all seen Martin Eriksson’s Venn diagram showing product managers as the intersection between customers, the business and technology. And sometimes the Sales, Marketing and Development teams might be thrown in for good measure as well. The competing demands of these internal departments often means the product manager has some challenging conversations to have with customers. But how can you get better at nurturing customer relationships without driving them away?

eriksson

Promising dates

We’ve all been there: that moment when your client asks you the-ever-so-dreaded question, “how long will it take?” Promising delivery dates is never easy, especially when the product is still under development and ideas have yet to be fully fleshed out. So how do you deal with clients that constantly ask when the work will be ready?

The solution: don’t promise dates

The best way to not have a client constantly asking why you aren’t done is to not provide them with an exact delivery date. Sounds like a crazy concept, but it works. Instead, give them a ballpark estimate of how long you think it may take, like 1-3 months, up to 6 months, maybe a year. Remember, if you’re only just gathering ideas and fleshing out the concept of the work itself, there’s no point in giving an exact delivery date in the first place.

Validate your progress

Regularly communicate with your client and give them a progress update of what you’re working on. With open lines of communication comes trust and understanding. Once your client understands the complexity of the work (at least to a certain point) then they’re less likely to wonder how much longer it will take, and they will panic less about having it out the door by a specific date. Make sure you get their feedback and thoughts on what you’re working on – make this a team effort!

Build a roadmap

The best way to visualize what you’re working on is to put it all up on a roadmap. Use roadmap cards to decide which features you’ll be working on in the current term, in the near term, and in the future. As priorities change, these cards will change as well. Share this roadmap with your clients so they are also aware of the progress and use it as a key communication tool to keep them in the loop.

Dealing with negative feedback

If an angry customer contacts you, you may think you need to apologize profusely. But do you really? Don’t just apologize – first assess the situation. If you do nothing but apologize and don’t follow it up after, your customers will lose trust in your ability to provide them a good service.

Apologize with action

Is there a workaround? Is the workaround immediate? Can your development team do something to fix the situation in due time? Be sure to follow up with the client and let them know what the progress is every step of the way. Apologizing will only take you so far – do something to remedy the situation. At the end of the day, clients will be more thankful that you remedied the problem rather than saying “I’m sorry” but doing nothing to ease their frustration.

Log their feedback

Make it a point to log all your customer feedback, good or bad. Not only will it help you improve your support services, but your product. If you want your product to succeed, you should listen to the people that use it. This is also a great way to prioritize your backlog and note what features are the most important to your clients.


What tips do you have for nurturing relationships with your customers? Let us know in the comments. If you haven’t seen for yourself all the great ways ProdPad will help you communicate and collaborate across your whole team then take a free trial now!

This Is How ProdPad Reached 100% Customer Satisfaction

Since January of this year, ProdPad has consistently reached 100% customer satisfaction. With many of us coming from a support background, how we treat our customers and their overall happiness with the product, quality of service and support they receive is incredibly important to us.

Wanna know how we did it?

Get the right help desk

The first step is to get the right help desk for your team. We use Zendesk, which offers us not just a ticketing system, but a great Help Center that we work on expanding every day. We’ve gone through a couple of iterations in terms of implementing a comprehensive way for our clients to find and ask for help, and finally settled on an in-app version of our Help Center, with an obvious call-to-action if anyone needs to ask the team for help.

While we have seen a decrease in the number of tickets that come through asking how to use ProdPad, we have seen an increase across other subjects, particularly around the discipline of product management and best practices. This helps us decide what kind of educational resources, webinars and topics we should focus on developing (and less time wondering if our clients can figure out how to use the app.)

Push all the things to Slack

Like everyone else, we are accept and welcome Slack as our overlords. From our ticket requests to our feedback, everything is pushed to Slack. We have a sole channel dedicated to all customer requests and, with the entire team hanging out there, no one misses a thing. Everyone from Marketing, to Development, to our Co-founders see what comes through! If Customer Success isn’t around to answer a question (or even if we are, but someone else knows the answer!) the team is always available to jump in and help.

Not only has this lead to great team communication, as we all know what’s going on, but it has also allowed us to answer clients faster. Based on our latest stats, our median First Reply Time has gone down 44% just in the last 30 days.

Using ProdPad For product management

We use ProdPad for product management. If we didn’t, we’d be missing out… on ourselves!

My favorite feature is the Customer Feedback module. We push all feedback from Zendesk directly to ProdPad. And yes! That means all feedback is pushed to Zendesk, Slack, and ProdPad, so there’s no way we miss out on anything.

Once a week, I’ll go through all feedback submitted and link it to the relevant Ideas in ProdPad, which later on allows us to filter and manage the ideas based on popularity. (Update: We’ve now launched Customer Feedback Portal, which means you get customer feedback on your website/app sent straight to ProdPad.)

This information becomes helpful for our CPO as new features are being built. The team can easily sort through the most asked features and prioritize them as needed.

Looking forward

We are also currently working on our overall operations and onboarding processes, making sure that ProdPad is completely self-serve and our clients have an easy time getting onboard. As we are a small team, our priority is to ensure that we are providing the appropriate and required help, education, and setup for our clients, while making sure our churn rate stays down. More on that, soon!


We’d love to know how our steps to satisfied customers compare to yours, so let us know in the comments what’s worked for you! If you haven’t taken a look at how ProdPad can help you build better products then why not start your free trial today?

Customer Experience and Customer Journey

Walk In Their Shoes. Do You Know Your Customer Journey?

As product managers, our lives are centered on creating a great user experience that makes our products a success. But how well do you know what that experience really looks like?

At this year’s Mind the Product workshop on Analytics and Testing, Craig Sullivan (@optimiseordie) recommended experiencing your own user journey as an important reality check. Only when you put yourselves in your customers’ shoes – at every step of that journey – can you understand whether you’re delivering the experience think you are.

Here are just some of the ways in which you can start to get a better insight into your products from the customer’s perspective.

Search for a solution to your problem

Your users’ experience of your brand starts way before they subscribe. What are you communicating when they first start looking for a solution to their problem? Your market messaging, search placement and advertising is generally the first touch point for prospective customers. Doing a Google search and reviewing these materials in the exact same way your customers would discover them can help you to discover whether that information is clear, informative and easy to discover.

Register for your product or service

The steps that allow prospective customers to become real customers – whether that’s creating an account, signing up to your service or getting in touch with a member of your term – are the most crucial. So try becoming your own user; your goal is to check that there are no unexpected barriers to that process. Is the button easy to find no matter when you decide to register? Do online forms seem clear and concise? What emails do you receive immediately after registration, and beyond? Does your site or platform prompt new users on what to do next? You know your product far too well to see what a real new user sees, but it’s important to be confident that everything works as planned.

Order something or complete a task

No matter what kind of product or service you have, try really using it. If you have an ecommerce product, add something to the checkout, process your card details and wait for your order to actually arrive. If you have an application, make sure it’s integrated into your daily life in every way possible. Look out for things that might frustrate or fail to make sense. Your own usage is not a replacement for good usability testing, but knowing your product in and out is important for achieving a smooth and consistent experience.

Try to find answers to a problem

Of course, a little roleplaying is necessary here because you know the answers (I hope) to your product’s inner workings. But if you take a look at your FAQs, is it easy to find an answer if you’re not the product manager? Do realistic search terms bring up clear results in your help section, or does a Google search index any useful articles? Understanding your user journey and helping your customers to stay on it is about preparing not just for when things go as planned, but when they start to derail.

Speak to your brand

You should be as aware of your product’s communication skills as you are its code. Tuning into your brand’s communication in real-time is very different to reviewing copy for proposed emails. Subscribe to your mailing list and follow social accounts. Does the information seem useful and interesting, or is something missing? Does the flow feel right, or does it clash across channels? And try reaching out to your sales or support team anonymously. When do you get a response? What does it feel like to be on the end of your support line? All of this is key to a good user experience that will keep your customers coming back.


If you’d like to find out more about how ProdPad can help you to build amazing products, get in touch with us here or sign up for a 14 day free trial 

How Product Managers Can Work With Customer Support

This UserVoice post on getting product managers to listen to user feedback highlights some of the potential tensions between customer and product management teams from the other side of the coin. “Something I hear over and over from customer service and community teams is that the product management team doesn’t seem to care about customer feedback. As the folks who are trying to make these customers happy, this is quite frustrating,” says community manager Evan Hamilton.

Any good product manager should of course put customer needs at the heart of their daily decisions. But what does that mean when it comes to interacting with customer service and support teams?

A clearly defined and well-documented process can mean the end of wasted back and forth for both parties.

Surface the timeliest feedback

Your customer service team are the first port of call for your users’ frustrations and challenges. Customer feedback of course might come from many different sources, but here your customers’ most pressing pain points (those they are pushed to reach out to you about) can highlight some of the changes you absolutely must make if you are to keep their business. When customer representatives make use of user feedback capture tools in ProdPad, you can be sure that each of these instances are recorded and that no threatening issue is overlooked.

Delight customers

As well as fixing their pain, good customer service is also about delighting users. When customer service teams and product management teams work together effectively, they can identify new opportunities to delight users with quick product wins. At ProdPad, we ourselves use tags such as ‘fun’ on ideas dedicated purely to making customers happy.

Making use of ProdPad’s features and integrations, it’s easy to communicate those changes back to relevant customers too. A complete feedback loop is made simpler by either recording customer contact details directly against feedback and ideas, or by integrating tools such as UserVoice to automate updates to customers when their suggestions have been taken on board.

Build a workable case

When customer service data is shared with product management, problems can be better solved and value more easily created. But how does this work? If you are to avoid the frustration of customer reps who feel their feedback is going ignored, or the stress of product managers who are bombarded by the same enquiries day in and day out, good process is key.

In ProdPad, user feedback is logged separately from fully formed product ideas. This way customer service teams aren’t limited in the number of times they log a piece of feedback, in fact comprehensive coverage of this important information should be encouraged. Yet in linking feedback to a single product idea each time the issue is surfaced, product managers can avoid repetition and keep track on the traction of an idea in a measured way.  Service teams can help to build a workable case for a new idea and champion their customers’ needs, keeping everyone happy.

If you’d like to find out more about how ProdPad can facilitate collaboration between product management and customer support teams, get in touch for a chat or sign up for a free 14 day trial

 

What’s the Role Of Your Customer In Product Management?

Sitting at the heart of technology, business and customer, product management is a process by which a product vision is translated into a valuable product. Getting organized internally is one thing, but involving your customers presents different challenges. What is an appropriate level of customer engagement in product management processes and decisions?

A product manager must be a champion of customer needs. But involving customers is not about jumping to respond to every request and suggestion. Involving customers in product management is about knowing when this should be direct, and when to use other tools to represent their needs. Letting customers into product management at the right moments is key to building better products.

Direct customer involvement

Customer conversations

Whenever they get the opportunity, product managers should be having real conversations with real users. Depending on your business model this might mean picking up the phone or organising to meet with small groups in person. Whether to discuss a particular piece of feedback, an idea on the roadmap or just a check in with core users, it’s important to start talking. These conversations can not only surface fresh product insight, but help us to internalise our customers’ needs, problems and attitudes.

MVP and user testing

An important element of the MVP philosophy is to get products out to customers at the earliest possible stage. You should make only the necessary assumptions about your users’ needs to build minimum viable products that can be taken to customers for feedback. Use wireframes to walk your customers through new products and changes, and share prototypes with customers at different stages of product development to make sure you’re on the right track.

Open roadmap

Sharing your roadmap with customers both keeps them informed and gives you perspective on how effectively you’re moving towards your product vision. However, that doesn’t mean you have to share your entire inner workings with customers. If you have particular projects or developments you aren’t ready to make public, create a customer-friendly version of your roadmap that you’re happy to discuss in full detail.

 

Indirect customer involvement

Customer feedback

Although customer feedback comes from customers initially, it is a data source that should be analysed alongside other factors rather than taken at face value. Product Managers should base decisions heavily on customer feedback, but individual suggestions shouldn’t guide product evolution or development time. Listening to feedback is about trying to piece together the big picture of customer needs.  Look for trends in customer feedback, and weight ideas differently depending on who they come from – feedback from your target market is the most important of all.

User personas

User personas are virtual representatives of your customers. They have a name, a face and personal details, but they aren’t real people. They are fictional representations, based on the real conversations that helped you to understand your customers inside-out. Building user personas allows you to do product management grounded in user needs, without getting bogged down in the detail of specific customers and all their anomalies. Before you take your new product ideas out to real customers, test your inkling, staff suggestion or piece of feedback against your personas.

If you’d like to find out more about how ProdPad helps you to work effectively with customers, get in touch with us here

And if you’re new to ProdPad, you can sign up for a free 14 day trial here.

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