Key to SaaS Success: Customer Oriented Communications

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Jordan Boesch, CEO @shifts, responds candidly to my customer success story questions in this interview.

Watch the second part of my interview with Jordan Boesch, CEO of 7shifts, where he talks about user feedback in the context of customer oriented communications. Watch the full video or skim the audio transcription about customer feedback in this post.  

Here’s a quick recap of what we covered:

  • Jordan brings back memories of his wins and fails through a series of customer success story questions.

  • He emphasizes the importance of having a consistent point of contact for each account.

  • Jordan identifies why capturing feedback is a challenge and best practices for collecting this information without disrupting the user.

The following is an audio transcription that was cleaned up for readability purposes.

Background (0:00 to 1:25)

Rodrigo Fuentes (“RF”): Okay. Hi everybody my name is Rodrigo and I am the co-founder of ListenLoop and today I am interviewing Jordan from 7shifts. Introducing Jordan here.

Jordan Boesch (“JB”): Hello there!

RF: Alright. So, first I want to talk about the startup journey. How would you describe 7shifts in under 50 words or so.

JB: So 7shifts is restaurant scheduling and time clocking software for restaurants, QSRs, and other food service industries.

RF: And what is your role at 7shifts?

JB: My role at 7 shifts as CEO, I’m wearing a lot of hats right now. So anything from design development, sales, you know writing, server configuration. Wearing a lot of hats right now but enjoying it. So we are a small team.

RF: Cool. And where are you guys currently based?

JB: Where are based out of Regina, Saskatchewan. For those who don’t know where that is, because a lot of people don’t, it’s right next door to Alberta in Canada. We are kind of in the middle of Canada. So if you are in the US we are right above Montana.

Customer Feedback (8:16 to 20:51)

RF: Yeah. Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. Okay, you mentioned customer feedback. So I want to touch on that for a second. First, let’s lay some foundation. What was your first code or product ship like? I mean, you know, just kind of give us a rough idea of what you were dealing with that you just push a very basic app or would you, you know, have a fairly robust offering when you first turned it over to Quiznos.

JB: Oh, it wasn’t good at all. It was like, yeah it was pretty horrible in my opinion but it was always there. It was always on the web and accessible for people to stumble across it, because I had a marketing page done up that was very basic and explained some features. So it was never in an amazing state but people started to sing up for it because it was around that time that, you know, online scheduling was starting peak people’s interest. It wasn’t always a thing where they would think to go online to build schedules. So, these few people that heard of it went online, these more tech savvy people, and they found this software, which was mine, and some other competitors obviously out there but it wasn’t in the state that I ever felt like this is an amazing app.

“It’s a constant evolution but the fact is it was out there for people to try and get feedback on very early on. Way earlier than, you know, I’m thinking back and I’m like “Wow I can’t believe I released that but I’m glad I did because I got so much good feedback and people stuck with me because they would see you implementing that feedback and so as a result you are building that relationship and you are product out. So it’s a win win.”

RF: So, walk us through some of the early methods that you used to capture feedback say 3 or 4 years ago when you were, you know, working with Quiznos and A&W.

JB: There was no method of capturing feedback. It was wait until they email me and fix the problem. It was never how can I improve your experience overall. It was is it broken, is there a bug, or is there a feature you want. You know, and that’s all people would email me for and they would just contact our you know, [email protected] email address and say that. So, we didn’t engage with them first hand. It was them singing up to the accounts and then finding things or requesting things and then them sending it to us. So there was never… We never made that first touch point and so that’s largely how it was different.

RF: So how is that different today? How do you capture feedback today? You mentioned one way earlier using ListenLoop. Talk a little bit more about how you initiate customer oriented communications.

JB: So, we capture some feedback with us in the open. We also, obviously, capture some feedback when our clients sign up because they get automated emails and a lot of them applied on that too. So we craft these emails in a way that’s… And we measure these too and we try and make sure that these emails are emails that seem genuine because they are automated but, you know, we want it to seem as genuine as possible to get these replies, to start that conversation, to start building that relationship especially given the nature of our clients. You know, a lot of them are small to medium businesses, so that’s a huge thing, is building that you know, relationship. So that’s…

RF: Let me just ask this customer success story question:  Why is it so important to build a relationship with the SMB client base?

JB: Because they are choosing you because you are not that big corporation that you are, someone that they can reach out to and talk to and as result it might mean that it’s more demanding of your time but that’s why they are such a focus in the SME market anyway, to make sure that you have a great onboarding process, you have a great support materials so that you are not always spending a lot of time with your clients, you know, hand holding.

“I still think it’s valuable for both parties to establish that initial relationship whether it’s just a quick email when they are getting started. Just say “Hey, I’m here for you. I’m a real person and if you need to reach out cool.” 

There are a lot of support materials out there and you know, after that first touch point and they’ve heard from you and you kind of tell them about this, they understand that there’s enough out there that they can find themselves next time. So, they are happy because they talked to someone and they are happy because they probably don’t need to talk to you again because the information is out there on your support pages. So, in that SME market it’s so important to have a good onboarding process and have all the necessary support materials out there and easy to access for all these people that are coming through the door.

RF: So on that point one of the things I want to ask you about is how do you balance enough support without overwhelming support. You could think back to the days. Maybe the early to late 90s when you would buy Windows and it would come with a 300-page manual on how to use the software and obviously I doubt many people ever actually read the full thing. I certainly never did. You know, how do you strike that balance between giving people support docs and expecting them to read it versus making the product sufficiently intuitive so that people understand how to use it without those support documentations?

JB: I know the biggest thing is… I think it’s a matter of flow for us anyway. That’s how I feel, is when they come… So for example, when they come to the page such as, you know, in our app we have the schedules area saying “Hey, here’s the setup that we are going to take you through” and if they are not in the mood for that right now, make it known where they can access that material later on. So if they say “No, I don’t want to hear from you right now” you know okay there’s some sort of… Maybe it’s an animation or some sort of thing that’s intuitive where they can easily know that they can go to that place and find that necessary documentation for whatever they are trying to use. So, yeah, I mean it’s what we found that is very helpful is, you know, videos are supper helpful. And people watch videos. And as long as they are concise and consolidated into what they are actually looking for, right? So instead of having this gigantic video of your entire app functioning, break it up into segments of things that are going to ultimately interest them and ultimately what they are looking for.

RF: Yeah, so I understand the point you are making about the flow and sometimes it makes me wonder, you know, where do you draw the line from being helpful to being annoying, right. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about adding walk through. They are adding interactions in their product that it reminds them of paper clip, right, the little animation inside of the Microsoft Word products back in the day. How do you draw that line? Where do you see yourself on that position?

JB: Well, I’m personally in favor of somebody’s walk throughs. I haven’t really been in one that’s been annoying to me but I can certainly understand how some people might find them annoying. If people find them annoying and they want to exit out of them, they should for sure be able to do that. They should be able to opt out and say “You know what; I don’t want to do this right now. I want to do it later.” I’ve seen one of the Google products do this. I think its Google calendar. As soon as you exit all that quick setup, it shows an arrow of where you can access it again should you want to see it. So, if you weren’t ready at that time, you just wanted to get in there, your toes wet, and just fiddle around with the app, close it out. Okay, it’s over there. It’s tucked away and if I’m like really stuck on something and you go well maybe I can go back to that little quick setup that I skipped over. So I feel like something like that is nice because they can close it really easily and they know where to find it later on if should they need it. So, yeah, you should definitely get out of their way if your user wants you to get out of their face and you should give them that option too. But I think it’s key to make it clear of how they can be reintroduced to those tips and things like that.

RF: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. So I want to move on to understanding what the most challenging aspect of capturing feedback today is for you and 7shifts.

JB: The most challenging aspect of capturing feedback, yeah, for us it was capturing it… it was like when to capture feedback was always kind of a challenge and what is the best area to do that without disrupting our users. And so there is… We obviously don’t want to be shoving popups in their face every time they do something but if they’ve done something enough times and they may be a power user for whatever feature then you probably want to know a little bit more about how they are using it to make it better or get their genuine feedback on that. So it was a challenge actually to find how to do that. How to get that feedback from certain power users or people that maybe aren’t even using that feature at all. So that was definitely a challenge.

RF: And how are you solving that challenge today?

“We are tracking events now. We are using ListenLoop as you know and we are tracking certain events that occur in the app and getting feedback”

and I got to tell you just because this is really funny because it happened since we are at Boost together, at that accelerator. So, we got feedback through ListenLoop and it was basically people saying “I don’t know how to copy the schedule.” Like it would be great if you guys could have this copy schedule feature and I’m like “We have that feature like it’s right there it that nav.” And so after that rolled… The first enrolled and I was like “That’s weird, I mean it’s right there.” And then it started happening again and then another person said it would be great, I’m going to only rate you at 7. It would be great if you had a copy feature, I’d rate you at 9 or a 10. So I was like “Okay, it’s right there.” Okay so really, this is like… This is starting to become a thing and up until even last week.  Because we still haven’t fixed this and we are going to fix it but within last week but within last week we had two, two ListenLoop responses saying it would be great if I could copy the schedule. And I was just like “Oh my God.” So this is a problem that we actually had no idea was a problem and the fact that we are building an app that is supposed to save you time and people are starting schedules from scratch and not using a template and copying over is completely blows my mind. Do you know how awesome they would think our app is if they realize that they could start from a template instead of starting from scratch? It blows my mind. The fact that people are even paying for our app and not aware of this feature is just like crazy to me. So that is something that has just been incredibly valuable and we have it in GitHub and we’ve got to fix this issue but sometimes you just don’t know. Sometimes you just don’t know until you ask and that’s what this case was. Because if someone would have just came up to me and said, or if I would have went to their store and they said “Oh I didn’t know you could copy a schedule.” Well, that’s one person and I’m not going to go store to store because not all of our businesses are local right. So I can’t really have that face to face but to ask the that question at that right time has opened this whole other light of where the problems were in our system. It’s really crazy actually.

This is part 2 of this video interview with Jordan Boesch. In part 1 we discussed customer onboarding. Big thanks to Jordan Boesch for answering my customer success story questions and being so candid about his experiences.

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