Richard White of UserVoice: Customer Retention is EVERYTHING If you Run An internet Service

UserVoice, creators of a platform that makes it easier for 150,000 companies of all sizes to reply quicker to customer needs and gather more feedback from them, was recently named winner of the 2013 CRM Idol contest .  CRM Idol is an annual competition among emerging customer-facing tech companies. The winner is chosen by a panel of judges, experts and influencers within the CRM space, in addition to by the web community of voters.

Richard White, CEO and founding father of UserVoice, shares his thoughts on how a small company can scale and build great relationships with thousands or enormous quantities of shoppers. He also talks concerning the role speed plays in keeping customers happy. And most of all, he explains how in the event you run an internet software service or mobile app, how customer retention is paramount.

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Small Business Trends: Let us know a little about what UserVoice does, and a little bit personal background.

richard-white Richard White: My personal background is actually what I call design engineering. UserVoice came out of my struggles as someone who’s a designer, engaged on software-as-a-service [SaaS] applications. i began engaged on SaaS applications at Y-Combinator companies back in 2005, 2006.

Even back then we actually struggled with an analogous problem we’re looking to solve with UserVoice today.  That is, how can we have conversations with our customers at what I call web scale?

It’s not uncommon for a 20-person company to have 200,000 or two million users.

How do you support those users? But how do you furthermore mght transcend support, and really have a very good grip on what do our users wish to do, how will we improve the product?

In SaaS, retention is everything — not necessarily acquisition. I mean acquisition is necessary, but retention’s what are we able to do to construct an exceptionally big business.

Part of retention is customer care and support.  But a much bigger a part of this is building the proper product. an enormous portion of that may be understanding the right way to get feedback from users, and never only a vocal minority but a representative sample of your user base, and build the perfect product you’re able to for them.

Small Business Trends: We’re hearing progressively more the term, “in-app.”  What exactly does “in-app” mean?

Richard White: Traditionally, when you’ve got a customer portal, a customer community, a survey, these items are just done off-app. What I mean is it’s a separate site. There’s a link to your footer that takes you off to a different site, and that’s where you get help.

Or there’s an email that goes out and it takes you to a link, it takes you to the survey, and that’s where you get the feedback. Our main problem with those sorts of approaches is that we all know that were someone to click a link in a footer, whenever you take them to a different site, you lose loads of your audience.

When we’re servicing SaaS applications, persons are already living inside your application. Why can’t we get them the assistance on the point they’re having the difficulty? That’s to your application. Why can’t we ask for his or her feedback directly where they’re actually using the product or the piece of the product you would like feedback on?

That may be a web app or a mobile app. If you’re getting feedback, we wish you to get it in-app. If someone has a difficulty, we would like them simply to be directly on that page, click a button, fire off that message, read an information base article, you name it.

Small Business Trends:  Please explain the impact that during-app has.

Richard White: Among the first things we built with UserVoice were these little feedback tabs to lay at the side of sites. We did that back in 2008. We built that because we found that folk were just putting links inside the footer that said, “Give us feedback.”

The biggest problem we had was people clicking through those links and going off to the third party site. We would have liked to present them a brain dead, simple solution to tell people you truly care about feedback.

That helped. With our latest batch of feedback, we’re doing various different approaches to actually get feedback. You’ll imagine these as almost single question surveys to your app. Do you love this concept or this concept, how would you rate us, etc. etc.

We’ve seen on occasion a 700% improvement within the percentage of users engaging. Because what we discover is when people need to have all this motivation to click off to a 3rd-party site, you’re only going to get what I call a vocal minority. Only the foremost passionate people will burst off.

That won’t always be the folk you desire to be hearing. The folk which are really angry, or can be just your super-early adopters. Maybe you intend to say hey, this quarter we wish to give attention to the feedback we’re getting from our customers paying us over $100 a month which have been with us for 6 months.

We get i believe about 7X the variety of people engaging when the mechanisms are in-app, and we get just as much depth of engagement.

Small Business Trends: As subscription services grow, that suggests that folk are going to ought to really be into what customers want, and that suggests with the ability to effectively get the feedback on a continuing basis, correct?

Richard White: The first concern we’re attempting to cope with is 3% of our active users at any given time are contacting us for support. How can we stay on top of that?

We provide them many ways to try this. Often times we’ve seen about 50% of inbound requests get an auto-suggested knowledgebase article, or an auto-suggested piece of feedback from another issue. This can deflect that issue, and also you won’t need to have a live person reply to it.

We delivers context to the agent and make it in order to answer the question in a short time. Some of the things we’ve found is that once it does get to the agent and they’re responding to it, in an internet world, within the real time world we are living in, people value expediency. They need a solution quickly.

We cope with agility. We’ve a big ratio of end users to support agents.  We take this approach that we attempt to make it as email like as possible, and we now have very simplistic opener, close statements. In case you reply to a customer, we assume that if the shopper still needs help, they’ll contact you back.

This is different than the conventional resolution tracking and these kind of things. If you’ve got customers which might be paying you thousands or tens of thousands of bucks a month, maybe that you must take some time to follow up with them and confirm everything gets closed and everything gets resolved.   But in a client environment, that’s just impossible. That’s not scalable.  We’ve never really gone to a firm that’s consumer-focused – that doesn’t have customers which are paying thousands of bucks a month – and seen them track resolution times effectively. We just don’t think it’s possible within the consumer environment.

What we’ve seen inside the stats we do show is you get a disproportionate variety of kudos in the event you respond within quarter-hour.  On this agile world of support that we actually attempt to support, we deal with response times.

Resolution times are something that we predict are more of a legacy concept, or more of an idea for if in case you have a way smaller user base, paying you a lot more money per person. Then maybe it’s worth tracking. To the common web app company, and particularly for the typical mobile app company, it’s not a superb use of some time and effort.

Small Business Trends: What impact do you believe you studied Amazon’s “Mayday” button could have on customer support going forward?

Richard White: Mobile apps are three to four years behind the net with regards to customer care and in-app customer feedback. Nobody really put quite a lot of effort into it.

Up until about 12 or 18 months ago, many of the revenue in app stores — and you’re talking about retail — but most revenue in app stores was from paid apps. If you bought the app, there has been little or no incentive for the corporate to attempt to support you (because the customer). They’ve got your money, they’ve got maximum value from you.

Now in-app everyone’s shifted to free-to-play in gaming and freemium for SaaS apps. You’ve a similar problem you’ve on the internet, where just one in 10 individuals are going to transform with all your app installs to a paying version, but you don’t know which one in 10 they’re going to be. You’ll need support all 10 of them.

That’s creating this demand for more in-app customer support. Any other thing that’s going to create demand for more in-app customer support is such things as this “Mayday” button actually raising the bar of people’s expectations.

We see how quickly we as humans habituate new technologies. The iPhone is excellent for roughly two years, after which we’re all bitching about how slow 3G is. i believe what you’ll see is gosh, look how great it’s to buy on Amazon, it has a “Mayday” button. Why don’t we’ve a “Mayday” button on every website?

I think there are economic the reason why individuals are already beginning to put money into better in-app customer care and customer feedback in mobile apps, as a result of market dynamics. i believe such things as this sometimes have a good greater effect, because they modify the customer’s perception of what’s possible, and lift the bar on what it’s essential to expect.

Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more?

Richard White: Uservoice.com . We’ve got all of our stuff on there. If you’re also keen on these topics, we run a conference twice a year. Next one’s going to be May in Chicago.

This interview at the customer survey experience is a part of the only on One interview series with thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This transcript was edited for publication. To listen to audio of the entire interview, click the player above.

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