Divio came top for trustworthiness, clarity of purpose and openness of communication in a recent customer experience study of over 360 companies - why?
Last month GetJenny, a leading Finnish-based customer services specialist, published the results of its study of over 360 companies listed on NASDAQ First North. The rated each company for three key factors: trustworthiness, clarity of purpose and openness of communication.
Divio came top.
The reason we came top is: customer experience really is a stated, practised, tangible priority at Divio.
Customer experience is valued in Divio's policies and in our daily work. We have developed processes and patterns that prioritise the customer, that make it easier to do the best thing for the customer. We have set up channels of communication and mechanisms so that implementing a customer experience improvement doesn't mean struggling with a system that doesn't want to be changed that way.
It's not just about caring and trying hard. There is also the acceptance that however hard you tried, whether as an individual or a company, there was always something that could have be done better. Another part is being prepared to do the work to understand feedback and make changes. Above all, it involves making an effort to put yourself in the position of the customer, and being prepared to push the customer's perspective into all of the company's teams and their work, consistently.
Feedback (especially when it’s not what you were hoping to hear) doesn't always flow smoothly through a company in that direction, but within Divio we have put a number of things in place to help it along. Some of them are visible, and were picked up by GetJenny in their research, but others are internal. Some of them are structural, while others reflect on-going efforts and initiatives. Here are some of them:
We make it easy for the customer to speak to us
As GetJenny noted, even when appropriate support material is published on a website, sometimes what the customer wants is to speak to a person, whether by phone, email, web chat or other channel. Each of these conversations consumes support time - they literally cost a company money - and many companies feel they need to place access to direct contact behind barriers. We don't; we provide tools for direct contact on every single page on our website and in our application.
We reply - quickly
We don't want our customers to feel that their support requests are being called out into a void. Our chat system for example provides clear indications of whether we are online to answer, and how long to expect to wait for an answer. The customer sees who they speaking to (and it's always a real live person). And our time to answer is measured in minutes - usually less than five.
We are all frontline support
Many companies outsource their first lines of technical support, and probably most at least try to keep customers a safe distance from their technical teams by having a frontline of non-technical support operators. At Divio, our entire technical team uses our support tools, and take turns on support duties. Almost the entire company is aware of what is happening in support, simply as a matter of course.
This does represent a cost - a skilled engineer who is answering a support query is not doing something else. But doing it this way is our choice. We are willing to bear this cost because of the rewards. Obviously, it benefits the customer if a support query is answered right away by a technical expert, but it benefits us too. Firstly, it actually reduces the time we spend on support issues, by eliminating inefficient back-and-forths. Secondly, the customer who receives outstanding support, especially in an industry where it's often barely offered at all, quickly comes to trust the company and is ready to sing its praises to others.
We want to hear our customers
We positively value the opportunity to receive feedback directly from users. Of course it’s more fun to receive positive feedback, but negative feedback is what allows us to make real improvements for our customers. Our support channels are a technical support hotline as far as customers are concerned; for us, they are an indispensable tool for collecting the feedback we need, unfiltered through layers of distortion or lag. We make sure that we hear what the customer’s problems are, in their own words, and swiftly.
In the same way, these conversations often result in product engineering tickets that are created and addressed quickly, by people who have a direct understanding of what the issue means for actual users.
We keep "customer experience improvement" as a permanently open issue
We maintain a permanently open internal channel for opportunities to improve customer experience. Any report or suggestion that can fall under that heading immediately acquires a special status, and is ushered carefully to the head of the line, like a diplomat at passport control. Only security issues are treated with higher priority.
We have made documentation part of our product
Divio's documentation is a best-in-class exemplar of the right way to do it. A huge amount of effort goes into it - once again, often led directly by customer feedback - and documentation is regarded as a core responsibility of the team, rather than being farmed out or devolved to writers who don't have a deep technical understanding of the product.
The same people are involved in designing and building our product who help the customers who use it, and in the same way, they take an active part in maintaining its documentation.
We have turned on-boarding into a smooth ramp
Our customers uniformly report a successful on-boarding experience that exceeded their expectations.
On-boarding experiences sometimes feel like climbing up from safe and stable ground onto a roaring, rocking leviathan, in which the user has to let go of familiar tools and methods and place their trust, all at once, in someone else’s promises and technology. Divio on-boarding is a smooth, easily-negotiated ramp.
On-boarding has been developed and refined in a cycle of feedback, and succeeds in its aim of ensuring that new adopters are up-to-speed as quickly and confidently as possible. Our product is part of this experience: the tools and systems we provide are simple and unobtrusive, and function according to concepts and standards that users are already familiar with. They fit in to existing workflows, and allow adoption at a pace that suits the customer.
As a challenger in the crowded PaaS and cloud management market, Divio has chosen to invest in customer experience as key instrument of customer retention, and has prioritised that over the rapid acquisition of new users at lower cost. The approach bears fruit: customer experience keeps customers with Divio. As Divio grows, customer churn remains exceptionally low. Early adopters remain customers, bringing more business to the platform. New users arrive to find that they can rely on a mature and well-established system of customer-focused care that extends all the way through their use of the product.
A premium product requires a stellar customer experience, but nearly every new adopter of Divio remains and grows as a customer, and this makes our investment in customer experience worth it.