Things that turbo-boosted my 2015 – thoughts from our CEO and founder, Lindsay Willott
Well… wow. 2015 was an incredible year. Customer Thermometer has tripled in size.
We’ve added hundreds of new customers, including two of the world’s largest social sharing sites, and three of the world’s top 30 most valuable brands.
We’ve released an amazing new version of the service, which has received rave reviews from old and new customers alike.
My favorite thing is hearing daily from businesses all over the world who are massively improving their customer satisfaction using our service. Like the Australian children’s circus skills centre using our service to check parents are happy with the training. Or the local government organization using us to ensure citizens are happy with the email response they sent to an inbound query. Or Zendesk responding to feedback on the flagship London event in real time. It’s exciting and rewarding.
To what do I attribute all this growth? Change definitely starts at home.
On a run last week I started making a mental list of things that I or we changed both professionally and personally in 2015. It struck me this might be useful for other SaaS and business owners, so here it is.
On the professional front
- Early in 2015 we upgraded our billing systems to Recurly & Stripe. This change was headed up by my business partner Mark Copeman and was a seamless change for customers but a lot of work behind the scenes but goodness me it was worth it. The combination of the two pieces of software have single-handedly changed our business.
We reached out to a few CEOs of other SaaS companies to ask about Stripe, and one even said “I consider companies that don’t use it to be irresponsible, it’s that much better than the alternatives.”
Stripe is utterly reliable and hooks into so many great reporting tools that we’re in great shape. And Recurly is far and away the best way for us to manage our customers’ accounts on a recurring basis.
- Building the Ministry of Magic has been a massive and positive change for us. We’ve always known that we need to set an example of superb customer service. Not gimmicks or giveaways, but genuinely excellent service that solves problems and takes pain away. We invested very heavily in customer service in 2015, building a Ministry of Magic as we call it.Every customer email is written and then reviewed for that extra 10% of magic, help or advice to ensure that we knock it out of the park. Our own Customer Thermometer feedback is superb as a result (you can check it here in real time, anytime) As a result, referral from our customer base has been massive – that viral effect started to happen for us as we grew this year.
- We built a fabulous Salesforce integration and write-back this year. We now have even greater access and distribution through the SF global customer base and there’s huge demand for what we do amongst Salesforce users. Our integration allows agents to see, in real time, customers’ ratings for their email replies. This allows real-time training and customer recovery, and is incredibly powerful. There’s a demo here.
- In 2015 we doubled down on investment on our product. Version 2.0 was released, with a plethora of awesome features and the improvements kept on coming. We know that we’re only as good as our users’ customer retention rates. So we make sure that each release makes it easier and quicker for our customers to uncover issues and fix them immediately. That theme of rapid releases continues in 2016 – our first release is out already and responsive landing pages, agent dashboards and API upgrades are all coming in the first quarter.
- Finally, at board level we adopted a “30 in 30” technique. It’s easy at management level to get mired in discussions but the key for us is rapidly improving everything we do month on month. So now at our monthly board meetings we discuss our customers’ needs, the future of the app and the business, and draw up 30 things we are going to do in 30 days to get there. Dates, names and accountability are drawn up on the spot and committed to. It works brilliantly.
I read a quote from another SaaS founder recently, who said (and I’m paraphrasing)
“Running my SaaS company I slept like a baby. I woke up every 2 hours and cried”.
We’re not venture backed, and so we’re able to master our own destiny a bit more, but it can be stressful and detrimental to your health if you’re not careful. In 2015 I read more, listened to more, and took the exercise bull by the horns properly and have been delighted with the extra energy and brain power as a result. It really is true that carving out that 30 minutes in your day to invest in yourself pays enormous dividends, even if it is at 6 am. Here are some of the things that personally changed my 2015:
- Reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. What a great book this is. Probably the closest I’ve come to understanding a bit about how I tick and being able to rewire it somewhat. So insightful in terms of those routines we all fall into (that we don’t even notice) and how to claw your way out of them.
- The MapMyRun app. Not new, but in conjunction with reading the above book, brought out a new, competitive me. Love this thing.
- I was given a Nutribullet for my birthday in the early part of 2015. Wow – this thing is absolutely amazing! I’ve loved the idea of a smoothie or juicer but most of them have so many moving parts that you’re constantly loading the dishwater. Nutribullet is just rinse the blade and chuck the other bit in the dishwasher and done. Throw in a banana, oats, frozen berries, greek yogurt, coconut milk and peanut butter each morning and you’re done. Again, going back to Charles Duhigg, this has become a keystone habit of mine which ensures I eat well each morning in 2 minutes flat and it triggers the other good exercise and work habits.
- I was always a runner rather than a gym-goer but in 2015 I discovered weightlifting mixed in with my cardio and have enjoyed it thoroughly. Makes you stronger physically and mentally, and burns more fat whilst you rest. Brilliant.
- Reading Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect. No rocket science in here but a superb reminder that silver bullets don’t exist. You want to get fitter? Do exercise every day. You want to grow the business? Improve something every day. Reinstates your faith that success is a marathon and not a sprint.
- Yoga with Adriene. A free YouTube channel of superb yoga, including 30 day camps and yoga for post-running, pre-bedtime and everything in between. Try doing yoga every damn day. I never want to do it but feel fabulous afterwards.
- The Tim Ferriss podcast. Tim interviews excellent performers in all walks of life. It’s the firm kick up the backside I need each week to be better than I am.
- The Oatmeal website. Really not sure where this has been all my life but we all need to unwind, and have a laugh and this site is unbelievably good. The artistic talent alone is mind blowing, but it then rolls art, cartoon, philosophy, science and humor into one. If you’re not familiar with it I urge you to take a look.
I hope these thoughts are helpful to make your upcoming year the best one yet.
Here’s to 2016…