When I was CEO of GreenQloud there are many things that I am proud of what and how we did, but there is one thing that stands out personally for me. I changed how we responded to customer support emails. Everyone in the team responded including the CEO, the Founders, the Marketing Team, The hardcore infrastructure engineers and the Software Engineers. The way we managed that was by making everyone get the customer support emails and whoever saw it first responded personally to the email. We were able to learn a lot about how our customers were using our product, what our product did and what about our product was good and what sucked. In the early days this was our warning system. When we got a support email we knew that there was something broken and we had to fix it. What was interesting to me about this experiment was how it changed the team culture, everyone was trying to respond faster that the others in the team, something like a game. We tracked who did what and how the Customer Support Ticket was solved and we tracked how long it took to close the ticket etc. I can say without any bias, this one thing totally changed the product, the team and even our customer experience because everyone in the team cared about the customer and the product.
It was really nice to see Kevin Hale, the founder of WuFoo talk about how they did that in Wufoo. It resonated very well for me. The title of his talk was “How to build product that users love“. I cannot emphasize enough how important this part of building a company is. If you don’t have the empathy for your customers and if you don’t care enough about their problems it does not matter what you build you will not create the emotional connection with the user.
I think this is one of the best lectures in the How to Start a Startup class. Most teams struggle with this, and Kevin goes through why that is the case. What is even more interesting with Wufoo is the fact that they created rituals and scaled what they did without increasing the team members. I guess it depends on the type of product you build. I find it strange that startups and even companies lack this “feature”, if you care about your customers and are there for them and help them solve their problem through your product, you create a great word of mouth marketing which can never be done with the biggest marketing budget. I like how Kevin talks about getting to a $1.000.000.0000 starts with the first $1. The same is true with customers, if you want to have million users you need to start with one single user and solve their problem in the best possible way, be there for them and build that trust and connection. You should care enough to make that happen. Yes, it is not scalable, yes it is difficult, yes sometimes customers get nasty but you should be able to step above all of that to focus on the overall experience.
Enduring companies and products create that emotional connection. As Kevin says in the lecture, this is one thing everyone of us can do. How fast you respond to a support ticket? How you respond? Who responds? Can you empathize? can you build a relationship with this really nasty customer? can you be nice, polite and still be firm about things you will and you will not do with your product? All these things are easier said than done but this is what makes the difference between the companies and products that succeed and those that fail.