Pronto Marketing Founder Derek Brown, talks about his journey into creating a business, with a different kind of thought process to customer service. Addressing why customer satisfaction is so important.
Full episode transcript
[00:00:00] Nash: Derek, thank you so much for joining us today, here in the customer satisfaction project by Simplesat. Now, want to get started with your story?
[00:00:17] Derek: Well, we will start at Microsoft. Otherwise it’s a long, long story, but I would say prior to that, I was in a variety of companies and I’ve owned my own businesses and have always been enthusiastic, about small business. So joining Microsoft as a big company, was a real change for me, but an exciting experience.
[00:00:36] Derek: I worked at Microsoft for a total of 13 years. The last three years in Microsoft Thailand. Prior to coming to Thailand, I was responsible for a server product called windows, small business server, which was a hugely popular server. That was I knew the channel of that server really well, the small business focused it professionals, or sometimes they have called FARs.
[00:00:59] Derek: Today many of them are called managed service providers. So I was familiar with them. I’ve spoken around the world, had gone to their user groups. I had partner advisory councils and such. So I was at Microsoft Thailand and I had a little bit, you know, the normal midlife crisis. I was thinking, what do I really want to do?
[00:01:16] Derek: I was happy in Thailand. I was happy at Microsoft, but it was time to leave Microsoft Thailand. And I decided to stay in Thailand and start a business. And I reflected back on these, Microsoft channel partners that I had worked with. These consultants. And one of the themes that always kind of they’d talk to me about, is there a frustration and doing marketing, even if Microsoft would provide marketing materials, they didn’t have the time to do it.
[00:01:44] Derek: They were busy, they were taking care of their customers and ultimately they were I.T guys, they were geeks, not marketing people. And they were kind of frustrated with that part of the business. So I thought, huh. You know, we could have something that was like a service. That we could take care of this for them.
[00:02:00] Derek: And in the same way that they take care of it for small businesses you know, most small businesses don’t have internal it resources, and they want to have someone help them out. So I started the business with Cory and kind of incubated it for a while, before we launched it in the fall of 2008 at then what was a pretty big event in the I.T consultant world, which was SMB nation in Seattle.
[00:02:26] Derek: We went there and started the business and our focus, was always not to just be like a technical company, building websites, but to be a service company and to take care of our customers.A kind of an all you can eat sort of focus. So we really started at day one, like how do we deliver a great service?
[00:02:43] Derek: People would pay us on a subscription basis as opposed to just doing a project and dropping it. Cause again, I have seen that kind of experience in Microsoft where it was crazy, you know, I’d spend like a hundred thousand dollars developing great marketing stuff that our partners could leverage and they didn’t even have the time.
[00:03:02] Derek: They didn’t have the resources to edit the native files. They didn’t know what to do with them. So I really wanted to be this service where we just did it for them and took care of them. And things really took off from there. It was exciting.
[00:03:16] Nash: What was it you said something about your midlife crisis and stuff?
[00:03:20] Nash: Yeah. I’m very curious because like you had a really great career, but also you said like, no, it’s time to leave Microsoft and you’re in Thailand. And like you started a business in Thailand, like what was your thought process at that.
[00:03:36] Derek: Well, I I’ve always, ever since I was a teenager, I’ve traveled a lot, so I know well over 50 countries.
[00:03:44] Derek: And and my jobs at various jobs at Microsoft were international and did a lot of international travel there. So I kind of had this feeling for years and years that I would be happy to be an ex-pat somewhere. I enjoyed being overseas and different cultures. So I think that was kind of me, you know [00:04:00] just thinking.
[00:04:01] Derek: Gosh, you know, I’m over here in Thailand. This is a great opportunity for me, you know, to do something different if my life and be happy here. So it wasn’t too bad but you know, it was a kind of you know, thinking what I want to do. I actually worked with a great executive coach during that time, kind of when I was still at Microsoft, like kind of, what do I want to do?
[00:04:20] Derek: There was great opportunity for me back in the U S at Microsoft. So yeah, it was a good time to kind of reassess. What’s really important to me was that I have had my roots since, and owning and running small businesses. And is that more I thought about it? I just said, that’s really what I love doing. And I want to get back to kind of having that, that small business experience, you know, we’ve grown today.
[00:04:42] Derek: Pronto is now over a hundred people, but I still think I’m just a small family business in many ways.
[00:04:50] Nash: Pronto started or it was born from the desire to help people. Can you tell me more about this and the philosophy of Pronto?
[00:05:07] Derek: Yeah, I mean you know, we started with and it still is the mainstay of our business is sort of all, you can eat model.
[00:05:14] Derek: You just pay us every month and whatever you need on your website. In some related things like newsletters, you just ask and we’ll do it. And, you know, naturally we didn’t quite know how that was gonna work out. So there was some trial along the way, like how much service did people need? What kind of things did they need?
[00:05:31] Derek: What kind of staff would we need? But overall it worked out well. I would always tell my team, don’t worry if somebody is asking for a lot you know. Say you know you have an all you can eat food buffet. You know, there’s some football players coming into eat and they eat a lot, and then there are some grandmothers they come in and don’t eat very much at all.
[00:05:52] Derek: So don’t worry about it. It’ll even out. And I think we learned that and also businesses go through cycles. Someone will get very busy with wanting to update their website and make changes, and then they’ll go get busy with their business and you won’t hear from them for a time. So also that we learned those kind of a cycle, but, but the idea was just to make it as frictionless as possible.
[00:06:11] Derek: So when you just need something, you just ask us when we do it. I think that was really important, because many small businesses were just getting short of paying money for a website, and then they have it dropped in their lap and they were expected to take care of it, and they don’t have the time or the knowledge to do it.
[00:06:31] Nash: So it sounds to me like the service that you want to offer is, a sense of relief, peace of mind, and this message that we’re here for you whatever you need.
[00:06:45] Derek: Definitely. I mean you want them to just think of us as an extension of your team, you know and when you need something, we are there, just ask us and we’ll take care of it.
[00:06:57] Derek: And you know that worked really well. We grew for a long time. We only did customers in this vertical. MSPs or I.T Consultants. Today it’s probably about 60% of our business. So you know 850 or 900 various forms of it, service providers, those are in our customer base.
[00:07:21] Nash: Corey I’m curious, what was your role when you and Derek we’re starting the business and having this idea that, we want to help MSPs. We want to be there for them. We want to serve them. What was your role in that process and really solidifying the core of your business or the ethos of the company that you want to be there for them?
[00:07:56] Cory: The main way that we divide our roles is that Derek was on the sales and business development side of things. So Derek was bringing in customers and then once they signed up it was up to me, to get their website live and take care of them. That’s how we first started out, which now kind of seems like a ridiculous pricing model, which was, you don’t pay until your website goes live. After that you start paying the price, then it was $200 a month. Actually, I think we even started at a hundred dollars a month.
[00:08:31] Cory: Okay. So it was this kind of insane pricing where we would have people sign up and we’d start. Working on their website and sometimes it takes three to six or even eight weeks. And at the end of it, they’d say, you know what? Nevermind we’re not going to use you. And we made no money. So we put, well, we lost a lot of money for those cases.
[00:08:52] Cory: So it was this pricing model that was a little disruptive and very attractive. And that was helping us get a lot of new customers in the door. And I think it really helped. This is how I really learned how important it was to deliver great service, and to put your all into every project, because every project that didn’t go live, we didn’t make money and I’d have to just ask myself what could I have done better, or what could our team have done better? To have had them stay. It was that model that forced us, to become a great service company, rather than charging a large upfront fee.
[00:09:43] Nash: Yeah. I think that’s a very committed or I don’t know how to describe it, but that’s quite a scary business model, but also it keeps you on your toes. It actually sharpens you as a business and also makes sure that you actually deliver.
[00:10:04] Derek: Yeah. One of the things we did from the very beginning and to this day is on our subscription services.
[00:10:11] Derek: We don’t have any contracts. So you can cancel anytime you want. That was important in that sense that we don’t have somebody locked in. We have to take care of them each and every month. Every transaction you have to be thinking about because you’re just always kind of one step away of somebody going, oh well I’m not happy, I am just going to cancel. And boy, I think both Corey and I felt that those first few cancellations are just so painful. It’s like, Oh, but you don’t love me. But you know, you just learn, like you really have to hustle, and you have to work to keep your customers. And I think that’s, you know, I liked that approach and it’s just stayed within our culture.
[00:10:52] Derek: To this day some staff will say, oh, you know, they kind of want to lock people in and there are some projects that, you know, have 90 day commitments or something now. But for the most part, we want to earn everybody’s business every day.
[00:11:07] Nash: Amazing. And now with this philosophy or this kind of way of thinking, how do you translate this to or how were you able to actually like build this culture in your team and how is it going now with prompt?
[00:11:24] Derek: Well, I would say, I would say one thing that was really important to us in the beginning was getting a good suite of tools.
[00:11:31] Derek: I remember probably were about six or eight months in Cory might remember, but we had one customer, John, who was really good. He gave us a lot of tough love. You know, he wanted the basket, he was very demanding. But he was coaching also kind of, you know, Hey, Derek and Cory, this is my customer experience with you, and right now it’s frustrating. And that he was the one who got us on or, or pushed us to get on Zen desk, which was probably 2009, which is pretty early for Zendesk. And, you know, cause he’s like, you guys got to get organized here. We were just different documents and things like that.
[00:12:10] Derek: So I think that was really important and that Cory and I are naturally kind of structured guys, who liked that kind of process organization. So we became real naturals to it. But I think that was an important step. You go, okay, now we have a platform. Now we have data. Now we can measure ourselves.
[00:12:29] Derek: Now we can be organized. Now we can see how long it took to resolve a ticket. But I think that was an important step of being able to have a vision, but you need the tools and you need the mechanisms to actually be able to manage it, you know, a profitable and a consistent way to measure your performance. So I think there was a maturation from gung-ho we’ll take care of you, to let’s build a great company with the right kind of tools to do that.
[00:13:02] Nash: And what would that like did you ever had an experience when Pronto was just starting? Did you have an experience where he had a very difficult customer who was so hard to please. How did you turn that around and actually make them like the best customer you’ve ever had?
[00:13:23] Derek: Yeah, I think there’s two parts but you know, I would say first, I’m not afraid if I feel like somebody is really not a fit for us to say that.
[00:13:34] Derek: And sometimes that’s an important as a coming to Jesus moment, where you need to say I really want your business. We really want to make you happy, but your expectations are what we can do or are not, based on the service we deliver, you know what I mean? Or your need is not something we can do today.
[00:13:57] Derek: So I would say that’s the first thing is you need to know when you’re a good [00:14:00] fit and when you’re not. And I, you know, for us, for these small I T service providers, you know, it’s a 98% whatever good fit. So it’s not like it was a huge issue, but so, so I think that step, when you really feel like a conflict with a client, it is good to step back just a little bit and go, is this a good.
[00:14:17] Derek: A good fit for us. If you think it should be a good fit sometimes you have to look at yourself and it’s, it’s like, wow, we really didn’t do as good a job as we should have done. There’s a big video to learn. And I think that’s an honest conversation you can have with the customer. You know, I think you can, you can say, I’m sorry, things went wrong.
[00:14:36] Derek: And here’s our post-mortem on what we did. Here’s what we’ve learned. Here’s what we’re going to change in our process to see that it doesn’t happen again. I think a level of transparency can be really important. Also taking the time to just listen to the customer, like maybe. Maybe it was just something you didn’t really well, obviously there were lots of things that came up in the early years that just someone asking and complaining that makes you think, gosh, I didn’t really realize we were going to need to do that, or I didn’t realize they were going to have that need or they were going to ask like this, or there was this kind of deadlines.
[00:15:10] Derek: So there was a lot of kind of tuning the service. To be, you know, to be right. And also, you know, in different kind of ways, you know, one example would be, we have for hundreds and hundreds of our clients, we send out a monthly newsletter and we, we put together the content, organize it and we have their list and we send it out.
[00:15:29] Derek: In the beginning, we’d ask everyone for permission before we would send their newsletter. But what happened was there’s a lot of these guys and business owners are really busy and they would never get around to giving this permission and their newsletter would never go out. So we learned, you know, this is maybe kind of a unserviced in a way, but we, we, you know, we learned that some people you need to go, Hey, you know, should we just send this out to you every month automatically?
[00:15:54] Derek: Like, we’ll send you a draft, but if we don’t hear from you in seven days, we’re going to send it. You know, the vast majority our [00:16:00] customers were like, that’s great. Some months. I have time to read it. Sometimes I’m really busy, but now I know it’s going to happen every month. So I think it’s also sometimes when you need to sort of help the customer get out of your way a little bit, so you can take care of them.
[00:16:13] Derek: So it was a combination of stuff, but you know, you just got to listen, you have to communicate. You gotta be honest. You gotta be transparent. You know, every business has problems. I mean, every small business owner has customers complaining. And so I think if you’re sincere and honest with someone. You know, they’ve been in your shoes and they’re rightfully it’s okay to complain.
[00:16:33] It’s okay to ask for more. I don’t, it doesn’t hurt my feelings.
[00:16:38] Nash: I think, well, you mentioned a couple of things that I wrote down. Listen, communicate, be transparent, be honest and be sincere. That would be. That would be easy to like implement or like, how do I say this? Cause you and Corey were working together.
[00:16:54] Nash: So you already have this or your understanding is aligned in terms of how you guys do business and [00:17:00] how you deliver customer service. Was it difficult for you or was it challenging for you to ensure that this way of thinking actually translate in every single person that you. Add in the Pronto team as, as you know, like the team grows, did this way of thinking or this culture got watered down or yeah. Like what did the process look like?
[00:17:31] Derek: I mean, that’s always a challenge bringing people in and, and how they might approach service. I think one of the really deep things that you need to build into a service culture. Is kind of honesty about what happened. So when something goes wrong, you know, we’re not, finger-pointing, we’re not trying to make somebody feel bad.
[00:17:51] Derek: You know, when I ask, Hey, this customer has a complaint, we did something wrong. What happened? I’m not looking for a [00:18:00] victim. I’m just looking for us as adults to have a honest assessment of what happened and see what we can do to fix it. And I think you’re. It’s really important from management down that your people feel safe and they don’t, they look around, they go low.
[00:18:17] Derek: You know, this guy next to me, just had a, kind of a big screw up. And it’s not, the people were nobody was mean to him. Nobody yelled at him, nobody threatened his job, but people were really clear. That was a mistake. And we don’t do that. And let you know, is it a training issue? Is it a tool issue? Is it a process issue?
[00:18:38] Derek: Like let’s just get to the bottom of what happened here. And I think once people get sort of comfortable, then when you start to act like, you know, for years and years and years, every batch, every complaint or every ticket that was rated, not high satisfaction came directly to Corey and I, and I directly would send out an email to the team, like what happened.
[00:18:58] Derek: God was I wasn’t involved in every, every transaction and the team just got used to the fact that I’m going to ask. I don’t want anybody to be asked me, just tell me what happened. And then we’ll work together to get the customer happy. You know, maybe I need to have a talk to the customer. Maybe we need to offer a little bit of a refund or discount, maybe an apology as all they want.
[00:19:19] Derek: Just fix it and get it done. Right. We’ll work as a team to get the customer happy, you know, and then we’ll take the learnings we can learn. And I just think you need to get that really deep in the culture. So people aren’t afraid to be honest, to learn and honest admit what happened and, and be transparent with the customer.
[00:19:36] Derek: It’s pretty rare. You know that you can’t be transparent. I mean, I don’t, I don’t throw my people under the bus, but you might say, thanks for pointing it out. We realized we have a training issue or, you know, but whatever. I think if you communicate, people are like, okay, thanks. You know, try not to do that again.
[00:19:55] Nash: I like what you said when you said, make people, make people feel safe [00:20:00] make people feel safe so that they can be honest with you. Cause like, I guess in some work culture is, I don’t know, like even if they want to be honest, but they’re also like scared of what will be the repercussions of my honesty.
[00:20:14] Derek: Yeah. Yeah. I think a little bit, you know, there’s an a in Thai culture and maybe some Asian cultures. Especially like people just want to be considered about their coworkers feelings, you know what I mean? And they might be afraid to say, well, you know, actually Nash screwed up, you know, and they’re kind of afraid to say it because they don’t want to hurt their relationship with you.
[00:20:36] Derek: And I think again, you just have to build that in the culture. It’s okay. You know, if you tell Nash that she screwed up, she’s not going to take it personal. Like you’re attacking her. She just understands that you’ve been here longer and you saw what she did wrong and. You know, you’re going to train her and you’re not going to be her adversary.
[00:20:53] Derek: You’re going to be her buddy and helping her get on track. So I just, it is a really, I mean, both a company culture thing, but you do have [00:21:00] to appreciate the deeper national culture you’re in.
[00:21:06] Nash: That’s so true. And how did you with you Corey, like when you started simple sat, coming from Pronto I’m curious about like the transition or w that point for you realize that it’s about time for you to actually start something because a simple sat is a spinoff of Pronto.
[00:21:38] Cory: Well, I think that the two things, main things driving the. The idea to start simple sat or start a spinoff, one would be boredom. And the second one would be, I was at the time I was managing all of our R and D team. So a team of over 10 developers that were focused all on building Pronto’s [00:22:00] systems, building and maintaining those things.
[00:22:02] Cory: And the more that I worked on being basically a product manager for that team, I realized how much value developers can have. And, you know, development might be the, the field where it’s like the most variable value that you, that you can add. You know, developers of course can create billion dollar companies now.
[00:22:21] Cory: So it was just kind of this thing always in my mind, how do I, you know, how do we create even more value with this team? And. As SAS products and software is, you know, a great way that you can scale up with a small team and, and how, of course developers are critical to that. So we had an idea. We want to do a SaaS company.
[00:22:41] Cory: And the idea for Simplesat is just had always been in our minds for years, because at Pronto, how of us, we’re trying to create better service. And I was always frustrated with how, you know, Zendesk’s binary system just good, bad. Ratings. All of our ratings were consistently over [00:23:00] 90%, but I knew that we weren’t perfect.
[00:23:02] Cory: So I, you know, we wanted, I wanted more negative feedback basically for us to use as experiences for us to learn and opportunities for us to impress a client by coming back and. You know, fixing a problem or an issue that they had. For a while, Pronto, I was leading our marketing teams and on the marketing team, we were doing quarterly NPS surveys.
[00:23:24] Cory: And that was just kind of a mess, how to organize the list and, you know, get all that going. And the Seasat data wasn’t connected to the NPS data and, you know, adding testimonials and stuff to a website that was this other project. So it’s, I don’t know. The idea was just like, how do we get all of this combined?
[00:23:43] Cory: And working together. I guess the last thing would be we were using this employee engagement tool called office vibe, and they have really cute and fun interactive surveys. And that was kind of the light bulb for us to say, like surveys don’t have to be boring. They can be fun [00:24:00] and engaging, even if it’s in a business setting and it’s more fun, but it also helps improve response rates and the quality of responses, which is really important.
[00:24:10] Cory: So all those things combined is how does start building simple sat. And we built it for Pronto as a customer. So putting upfront Pronto customers, zero, basically, and then we started sharing it with Pronto’s customers and other small businesses. And that kind of took off from there. We realized how many small businesses had the same need that Pronto had.
[00:24:35] Nash: So this started as like you built it for Pronto and then eventually you just like somewhat separated yourself from Pronto and then biggie separated, simple stat from Pronto and like trying to make it as its own entity.
[00:24:51] Cory: Right. Yeah. And we’re still kind of in that process separating, maybe we’re like in the teenage phase now. We’re growing up, but still under Pronto’s umbrella, which is we’re very thankful for.
[00:25:05] Derek: Well, I would say to that you know, kind of the insights that went into simple, sad, I mean, we’re very data-driven company and very SAS app focused. So. You know, any part of our business, whether it’s customer service with still Zendesk after all these years or something like human resources, Cory mentioned office vibe, but you know, we have a stack there of smart recruiters, bamboo HR, small improvements and office vibe.
[00:25:32] Derek: So, you know, w we’ve just built our company on SAS app stacks and are very aware how they should work, how they should integrate together. You know, we’re a huge user of Tablo, which is a data platform for bringing your data from different systems together and visualizations and dashboards. So I, I think.
[00:25:51] Derek: A lot of that really has helped us with Simplesat because we’re I mean, I don’t know, we’d use across the company, dozens of SAS apps. And we think about how they integrate, how they work, how it, what the user experience should be like. What’s frustrates us with apps, you know, what do we like? I think that has been really important, you know, to sort of create what we thought was going to be a great SAS ass experience and give you the, the business, the kind of data and dashboards and information you need to make decisions, make things better.
[00:26:23] Nash: Now I have another question for both Derek and Cory what does customer satisfaction mean to you?
[00:26:34] Derek: Yeah. I mean, I guess there’s, I would kind of put it in. It’s really a great question. It’s pretty broad, but I there’s 10 of two buckets that, that come to mind. I mean, one is obviously customer satisfaction drives your business success and drives your revenue and drives your profits.
[00:26:54] Derek: Right. And, you know, it’s really hard to get a customer or sign them up on boredom, [00:27:00] build their website, you know, There’s a, there’s a, there’s a huge customer acquisition cost both from a marketing perspective and a huge, but there’s a significant customer acquisition costs from the marketing side of things.
[00:27:13] Nash: Do the onboarding to getting websites live, to getting a customer in a, a good you know, a good groove. And when you lose a customer, that’s like a big loss of, of. You know, you have to go start over with someone else, just, you know, if you have a cancellation you’re minus one for the month, now you’ve got to get to have you’re going to grow.
[00:27:31] Nash: So I think just it’s a business fundamental, you know, higher satisfaction drives your business success. I think on a more personal, emotional level. And for our team, it’s no fun to be yelled at by a customer. It’s not, you know, even today, if I get a customer who’s upset or complaining, you know, You know what it’s like, you just open the email and you’re just kind of, first thing is like, Oh yeah, I got to dig into this.
[00:27:56] Nash: So I think to the extent you deliver great service, and you have happy customers, that’s like makes for a happier team. You know, nobody wants to be complained at even when they, even when it’s their fault. So I think in terms of creating like kind of a happier culture that ultimately has happier customers, you kind of want to get that little virtuous circle going around.
[00:28:18] Derek: You know, if you take care of customers, they’re happy and guess what they’re more fun to work with. And, you know, if they’re more fun to work with, actually you probably end up going the extra mile and making them happier. You know what I mean? So I do think there’s a, a kind of an emotional thing. That’s actually really good.
[00:28:33] Derek: That just makes work better for everyone. So I don’t know, for me, it’s a balance of bottom line and I dunno, emotional happiness. It’s like a cycle. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:28:49] Nash: And what about you, Corey? What does customer satisfaction mean to you?
[00:28:55] Cory: See, I have always just been kind of fascinated by [00:29:00] customer satisfaction and kind of just overdoing it and servicing the hell out of your customers and kind of just the, the wow. And the enjoyment that, that brings everybody. And I love experiencing great service myself.
[00:29:15] Cory: And this can be, you know, anywhere from five star hotels to, I remember once I was in Burma and I was at this bar and they kept putting these like we had our phones and wallets on the table and they would keep bringing these small plates and put your phone on a plate. And then I would, we were just kinda like.
[00:29:39] Well, what’s going on here. And then I would take my phone and put it off the plate and I would watch them like one minute later, they’d come over and put the phone back on the plate. You know, stuff like that, where it’s like, it doesn’t even, it, you could be a five-star hotel or you could be this kind of funky little bar in Burma, but it’s this focus on just kind of doing these things, that delight customers, and when it happens to you, you know, how it feels and when you do it to someone else, you know, how it makes them feel and that kind of gets me going and. Kind of the fun thing about that
[00:30:14] Nash: Last last two questions for both of you for Pronto and then simple side. So what are you, what are you doing? Right. And what are you as a company? What are you guys doing? Right. In terms of customer service and. What are the things that you think you still need to improve on?
[00:30:37] Derek: I’ll answer for, for Pronto, I think over the last couple years kind of our biggest challenges, w you know, we started with this all you can eat model one size fits everyone. We had one price plan and it, and for everyone and. Especially as online marketing has matured and our customers are matured and we [00:31:00] added different marketing services in addition to that core website program.
[00:31:04] Derek: But we really realized over the last year that that didn’t work anymore. And that that sort of my initial analogy, sometimes, you know, the, the, the offensive lineman from the football, team’s gonna come in to eat and, you know, the little old grandmothers gonna come in to eat. That, that kind of got wider and wider and wider, you know where there were some people who really just need hosting and almost never ask us to do anything.
[00:31:28] Derek: And there are other people who are literally asking every day. And so I think we were probably a little slow to recognize that to maybe listen to some frustrations from the team, which, you know, it’s wonderful when your staff says, you know, this, this customer can’t be profitable. We’re doing so much work, you know, for 200 and whatever $59 a month.
[00:31:51] Derek: And that would be like, I would tell my same buffet story, but eventually I realized, Hey, it’s really true. And there are some customers that want to pay [00:32:00] us 500 or 700 or a thousand dollars a month that they, they w they, they needed a dedicated account manager. They need a super high level of service and they’re happy to pay for it.
[00:32:09] Derek: And there are other customers who are feeling like I’m not really getting value for 270 a month or $259 a month. That’s right. They should be paying like $99 a month. And so I think too, you know, it’s really hard when you’ve been wedded to a successful business model to wake up one day and go, you know, the world has changed.
[00:32:30] Derek: Our customer expectations has changed now that we’re in that, that evolution now. And that’s a learning experience, of course you overshoot or undershoot, you get kind of tuning that, but that realization that, that a one size fits all. Wasn’t. Wasn’t the approach. Some people need a highly hands on customized experience and they’re willing to pay a lot more for it.
[00:32:53] Derek: And there’s some people who really do appreciate a quick website. If you could just host it and periodically we’ll do upgrades, I mean, updates and we’ll pay you. So that’s kinda been a, both a challenge as we struggled with a successful business model. And then, you know, w. Just a lot of just internal things.
[00:33:10] Derek: Okay. Like if we’re going to charge people a lot more, we better deliver great service on that. Like we better keep our promise and, you know, bringing up skill levels in the team, bringing up communication, bringing up expectations. So that’s been a fun challenge, but it’s certainly, you know, we’re in the middle of that.
[00:33:28] Derek: And I guess we’ve kind of a crazy year to be in the middle of that as well.
[00:33:33] Nash: That’s so true. Like. I think it would I can’t imagine this process. You would have to, it’s a huge shift, right? From having this like one size fits all business model, and then you kind of have to wake up like, wait, what has worked before doesn’t work now? Like it’s time to evolve.
[00:33:54] Derek: Yeah. Yeah. That’s, you know, that’s true of every business. That’s how you stay relevant where you know [00:34:00] about 12 years in now. And if we want to be around for the next 15 years, we’re going to need to evolve and be a different business.
[00:34:08] Nash: Thanks for sharing that and put simple set. Corey what do you think we’re doing? Right. And what do you think we are still like having challenges with.
[00:34:19] Cory: Yeah. Let’s see. So I think, so the things that I think we’re doing, right, we’re still small enough to really have a focus, a natural focus on our customers and almost everyone in the company cause touching a customer in some way, whether through, you know, fixing bugs and product development or communicating with them on the support side or sales side.
[00:34:39] Cory: So that’s good. And where that’s our advantage that we’re still small and we can. You know, have that naturally happen. Our product roadmap. I’m still happy about that. Again, that’s just about being a small company that we can listen to customers and be agile. And we don’t have a lot of legacy code or commitments to tie us down.
[00:34:59] Derek: So we can continually just be launching features that we know are, you know, a valuable and the, the most important things to be building a challenge I can kind of see, we’re getting to a point where it is. It’s. It’s important that we keep focusing on, you know, our simple sat values and our kind of three keywords that keep running.
[00:35:19] Derek: The, the theme is simple, useful, and fun. And we try to engrain this in everything we’re doing, whether it’s our product or documentation or service or sales or anything. And we’re noticing some, some things happening now about, you know, creating new marketing materials or introducing new pricing or a new feature that someone has.
[00:35:39] Derek: Of us remembering, you know, what would like, what would simple sat do? What would, what is simple, useful, and fun, and that’s, it’s not always natural. And it seems, you know, that simple is kind of natural or whatever, but it’s actually really difficult and complex to distill well or distill complex ideas or projects or whatever, down to a simple idea, or to remind yourself that.
[00:36:08] Derek: You know, let’s all not take ourselves too seriously. Let’s have some fun here. So it’s kind of working on how do we really get that into our culture? And I know it’s sometimes I’m simple, useful, and fun, and sometimes I’m not, but trying to just, you know, it’s not about what would Corey do. It’s what would simple set do? So that makes sense.
[00:36:30] Nash: Yeah, I think you’re so right when you said, like it’s actually very difficult to make it simple, like making something simple as SU the process is difficult. Distillation process takes time. And last question. So from both of your experiences in running both of these companies where the core is really delivering on deep satisfaction or high customer [00:37:00] service going above and beyond.
[00:37:02] Nash: What are the three action items that you can share to our listeners, to our audience that they can implement in their business to ensure that they can deliver high customer service and also have fun in the process?
[00:37:20] Derek: Well, I’m not sure. I’ll see if I can come up with three, but I would certainly say if you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it.
[00:37:27] Derek: Or you can’t manage to it. So if you’re gonna, if you really care about customer satisfaction, I think you need mechanisms to measure. Customer satisfaction. So you have good data, accurate data and across kind of the spectrum. So in our case, like both NPS, net, promoter score, kind of overall, how do you feel about Pronto down to, how did we do on this ticket?
[00:37:51] Derek: Or how do you feel about your new website that just went live and you through that customer journey, you’re staying in touch with it and you’ve got data and you’re [00:38:00] looking at the data and it’s actionable data. And I think that’s, that’s really key. Otherwise you’re, you’re living kind of anecdotally. And I I’m, you know, I’m a big data guy and then I would say the other thing is, is the build a culture, you know, that enjoy, it’s kind of simple SATs got their kind of approach to it and Pronto that That taking care of customers is respected and rewarded.
[00:38:21] Derek: And you know, like I said, people are, are kind of valued for how they can do that. So I think that’s a big, a big step, kind of the cultural piece of it. Maybe I have a two and not a three. All right.
[00:38:34] Nash: You.
[00:38:38] Cory: Me am I going? So let’s see. Number one, you got to get a system in place. And whether it’s it’s when we were starting Pronto and John told us that our system sucked, we had to get. Turn our onboarding documents from word files into, you know, some online form and emails [00:39:00] need to turn into a help desk. So, and like on the simple sat side of things, the system means that you’re surveying your customers.
[00:39:06] Cory: You’re notifying your team. So they, you know, know when a good or bad ratings come in. You’re responding back to customers, both about positive and negative reviews, and you’re using that data to improve your business for long-term decisions. So you’ve got to get a system in place. Second one, I guess, would be kind of going for it with service.
[00:39:27] Cory: Like, don’t be afraid, I guess, of people taking advantage of you or don’t be afraid
[00:39:34] Cory: Discount is too big or that, you know, it’s like just kind of go for it. And those over the top things work out in the end and it really, those are the things that really impress customers. And lastly, I guess, Really leading by example where it’s, if you will, if you want your whole team to have a customer service culture, it’s these aren’t things that you can just [00:40:00] write on the wall and say the customer is right, or in a performance review, say you need to provide better service.
[00:40:06] Cory: They need to see managers and leaders and the owners of the company. Being the people who are taking this are leading the charge on really like what it really means to put the customer first and what it really means to drop what you’re doing and make a customer happy, go the extra mile.
[00:40:27] Nash: Thank you for that. Awesome. Yeah, I can really see that, how that it’s actually translating in our day to day in simple sock. So thanks for sharing that. And lastly before we wrap up, is there anything that we’ve missed or anything you want to share?
[00:40:46] Derek: No, I think I’ve been a pretty good intro to Pronto and customer service.
[00:40:49] So I appreciate the opportunity to talk about the business.
[00:40:54] Nash: Great. And yeah. Well, where can people find you? Tell us more about Pronto, where [00:41:00] can they find you? And who are your target audience or target customers like invite them to check out.
[00:41:07] Derek: Project? Well, you can check out Pronto, Pronto, marketing.com.
[00:41:13] Derek: All of our service offerings, are there our target customers, you know, small, medium business both the it consultant MSPs as well as a full range, especially a lot of business and professional services and that sort of thing. So, you know, any kind of small business or professional practice you know, we can take care of you and there’s great examples in our websites across the broad range of industries and segments, so Pronto marketing.com.
[00:41:38] Nash: Pronto marketing.com and Cory with Simplesat
[00:41:41] Cory: Sets.search us live chat. We’re there almost 24 hour chat service sales. You can learn about us there.
[00:41:53] Nash: Who’s our target here.
[00:41:56] Cory: So mainly it service provides to MSPs, but really it’s anybody who uses an online service desk to provide service to their customers. So Simplesat works with Zendesk and Autotask and ConnectWise. You know, all of these Salesforce tools, where basically you can insert the survey in an email notification or a PDF invoice or email signature, to start giving your customers a way to let them know how they feel just right at the right moment.
[00:42:31] Nash: Perfect. Thank you. All right, ladies and gentlemen, thanks for being with us today and together with us. See you again next time. Bye bye. All right. Thank you for sharing your insights and thanks Cory, for being a guest.
[00:42:57] Derek: Okay. Good job Nash.
[00:42:59] Nash: Thank you guys.
[00:43:01] Derek: Bye-bye.