In a previous blog post, I wrote an article on how to talk to your customers when you don't have any.
Since then, we have gotten much better at talking to our users as our site has grown. We now spend about 15+ hours a week talking to our users, thats a lot of chatting right?
Doing this gives us an amazing understanding of how our users are editing videos and most importantly, a good idea on how to build a great product for them. I personally don't think I learn anything major from any single call, but over time I get a good overview of who our customers are and why they use our product.
There is a lot of advice online that just says "Talk to your users" When i was head down trying to talk to users, i found very little informations telling me how. Proactively and successfully putting this advice into action is much harder than it sounds, therefore I hope to unpack some of my learning into this post.
Before we start, If you are unsure why you should even bother talking to your users, you should check out this video of Jeff Bezos shot back in 1999 - Jeff knows his shit.
TLDW: He basically says that it does not matter what kinda of company you are, you just need to be customer centric, even if that involves opening thousands of new distribution centers to meet their needs. And the only way you meet their needs to to talk to your users. He also says internet shminternet
Here are the three things that have helped us unlock over 15 hours of conversations with our users every single week.
Talking to users is like developing a pipeline
So what do I mean by a pipeline? Talking to users is not just something you wake up and do one day. You need to develop a strategy that you can repeat again and again. At VEED, every user who edits a video gets an email from us the next day requesting a call. This has a super low response rate but nets us about 2 calls a day. We also follow up a few days later if we don't get a response. Finally on the 3rd email, we also ask that if you don't have time, you can fill out a survey instead. Not everyone has time to talk to you, they are just as busy as yourself.
Even then, once you have the call scheduled, it is super common that user cancels last minute due to some reason or the other. This could be due to lack of incentive or being at the bottom of someone priority list. At the time of writing this, I just had the user cancel a call with me 5 mins before the scheduled time.
So how do you set this up? We use email marketing and automation to run our emails, followups and responses. This way when every we get a new users email, they instantly fall into our customer feedback pipeline.
We have also experimented with the idea oh scheduling on-boarding calls for our users, but need to put more thinking into how this works.
Rewarding and incentivising users to help you out
Time is one of the most precious things we have. We like to send a $10 Amazon gift card or if your short on cash, maybe you can upgrade them to your paid plan for free. When we started doing this we immediately saw an uptake in users willing to chat with us. However, it is a good idea to qualify your calls first before you do that. Some people just want free money.
For some reason our paid users don't need incentivising. This might be because I normally ask them in a email chain when they ask for invoices. Or because I say
"I would love to know how you are using VEED and how we can make it better for you"
here is an example.
Make it easy for everyone
Working in different timezones to your customers is inevitable and setting up call can be super confusing. We use calendly to help us schedule our calls. This means our users can click the provided link and find a time slot that works best for both of us. This takes the hassle out of sending loads of emails back and forth trying to find a good time.
I personally like to set my availability from 8am to 9pm to accommodate users on the west cost and Australia. When it comes down to the calls itself, I like ask very general questions about what they do, how they found us, whats the process. I end up spending less than 10% of the time and listen for the rest. Depending on the stage of your company, the exact questions will differ.
Since we started talking with our users, we have a much better understanding of what is important to them. For example, I now know that one the main reason our users upgrade is to add subtitles to a video. Once we worked this out, we added landing pages for related key works such as caption video to acquire more users and also made product improvements such as automated subtitle transcriptions.
As you can see, this helps us better prioritise our backlog and feature development, saving us time and money while also making our users happy. For us talking to users has ben a huge win win!
Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, we love meeting other founders and enjoy the helping each other out, we find this.