Customer Discovery during COVID-19

I am trying to get a new business idea moving and looking to do my diligence with regards to customer discovery. Every part of me wants to go talk to anyone and everyone out in public but that's kind of frowned upon right now. I have been using reddit and asking around as best I can to get feedback but it is still not the same as going and talking to people face to face. How do you think I should proceed with trying to get feedback from people. My goal is to have legitimate conversations with somewhere around 300 people to really lock down pain point. All ideas encouraged!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Slow customer growth post-Seed, what are the chances of raising another round?

TL;DR: Startup struggling to grow post-Seed, any advice for future funding rounds?

Hi everyone

I'm the founder of a B2B marketplace startup. I was a solopreneur during most of 2019 and bootstrapped the entire business. I launched the product in Q3 2019 and began acquiring business customers quite soon after launch.

We raised a pretty sizeable seed round from a VC right before Xmas 2019 and I spent the first 3 months hiring two experienced senior team members (Ops & Tech), and developing our branding & website.

At the end of January this year, we were seeing average growth, probably getting a new business customer every 2-3 weeks. We weren't too worried as we were still developing our product, funnel, sales strategy and so on.

Once COVID hit, like many of us, all sales and interest took a nosedive. Our pipeline turned to shit, and they claimed to no longer have budget for our product, despite it sitting in a relatively integral function of a business (HR/Culture).

Our strategy to cope with this so far:

  1. Circle back on our product. We recently retained a great UX/UI designer for a lot less than his market value (due to being furloughed) to properly design what I had bootstrapped and sold to clients. Prior to covid, the strategy was to sell what we had (a crappy looking but very functional platform) for as long as possible until our revenue reached a milestone that triggered a redesign.
  2. Focus on getting the most out of our current clients. Our platform is accessed by all employees of a business, so our focus was to boost engagement so we can potentially grow their account size. Moreover, we could use that to build case studies to attract new customers
  3. Slightly shift our marketing strategy. We ceased all direct sales advertising, and have now ceased cold-mailing and outbound campaigns. Instead, we are investing our budget on building brand recognition and awareness in our sector so that we are top of mind when things go back to normal.
  4. Market research. The nagging question mark is that of Product Market Fit. I fear that early signs of PMF we had before covid-19 are now out of the window as those businesses have been dealt a hammer blow. So our challenge now is to build a method in which we experiment and test different iterations and marketing messages to see which market segment gains the most traction.

My worry is: without growth, are we a lame duck?

Why I've decided to post. I'm anxious that we're not going to be attractive to any investor if we haven't shown aggressive growth, despite the recession.

My question to you:

What are the kinds of achievements to strive for, if growth is not possible, to investors in Q4 2020 in order to raise another round?

Currently we have a run rate of about 15 months which is OK but that's if we strap ourselves in and essentially only pay salaries.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Customer Friction | What Is It & How Do You Reduce It?

customer friction

Have you ever clicked on a link only to wait forever to load up?

Ever felt that an app takes forever to load up even though all it does is show the time?

Ever waited forever to be served at a restaurant even though there are only a few customers?

If it is yes for at least one of the above, you have experienced what is supposedly a simple yet ever-pervasive problem that haunts all industries and businesses alike.

You just experienced instances causing customer friction.


What is Customer Friction?

Customer friction is anything that stops customers from buying the company’s goods, products or services.

Businesses and companies use funnels – sales funnels & marketing funnels to be precise – to nudge their customers into making the purchasing decision. But, there will be instances in the funnel that will impede customers from making a decision.

These instances cause what we generally term as “customer friction”.

Let’s look at how customer friction affects businesses.

Impacts Of Customer Friction

When customers face hindrances during their time with your business or brand, they usually quantify it to poor customer service. You may have an exceptional product that might genuinely solve the customer’s problems, but the experience will be branded as a sour one for the consumer. Customer friction negatively affects everything – the funnels that you’ve set up, sales, profit margins, inventory and even marketing.

You see, the word-of-mouth method of marketing is still king, and a bad impression will likely be spread by word-of-mouth. Research also shows that 78% of consumers have bailed out on the product or brand and move onto other options available to them due to perceived hindrances or poor customer service – basically customer friction.

So, it can be firmly said that customer friction and its instances cause a lot of trouble to businesses and finding the points causing customer friction should be of the utmost importance.


Identifying Customer Friction

For starters, instead of focusing from your business’ perspective, put yourself in the shoes of your customer – try going through the sales and marketing funnels that are present by yourself as a consumer. This is a sure-fire way of finding things that might crop up when say, interacting with your website or shopping at your physical storefront.

You can also use the following methods to indirectly find out where customer friction occurs –

  • Customer interviews
  • Customer surveys
  • Website Analytics
  • Interviewing your employees

This will help you come up with a list of things that causes friction for your customers. Here are a few examples of customer friction.

Examples of Customer Friction

  • Poor website quality
  • Bad policies
  • Cumbersome technologies
  • Slow service
  • Long wait times
  • Mismanaged inventory
  • Bad UX/UI
  • Uninformed sales staff
  • Slow delivery
  • Negative online reviews

Having identified and listed the things that cause customer friction in your business, brand, product, or funnel, it is time that you moved onto to solving the said issues. Here are a few, generally applicable methods for reducing customer friction.

Ways to Reduce Customer Friction


Happy Employees Equals Happy Customers

Human interaction will always remain as the best method of capturing your customer’s attention. That is why you see websites strive to “talk” to you instead of displaying the facts and details right on their landing page.

And, when it comes to interaction with the customers, your employees are at the forefront. Motivating and making your employees feel at home will help them interact and serve better. This will help reduce customer friction since employees do not shy away from helping the customer since they are satisfied and are well-briefed.

Moreover, whether they interact with customers or not, employees should be trained properly so they can represent your business with pride. When an employee is not happy, your customer won’t be either and vice-versa.

Follow Up With Repeat Customers

Your repeat customers are gold mines when it comes to finding out about hindrances in their experiences and also on whether the changes made have reduced or increased customer friction. Since these customers have been around for long, they tend to notice the changes easily and if the said change is positive, it can even help boost the word-of-mouth.

Maintain Consistent Design

Nothing confuses users and customers more than having a disoriented and cluttered design or interface (unless it suits your industry or sector). This confusion acts as a barrier that prevents customers from investing their time and resources into your product, brand or business.

This can be resolved by sticking to a consistent, clean and straightforward design. This will help in reducing customer friction since following industry standards and modelling your say, website or storefront or even your pamphlets, with proper layout and positioning can help ease the customer into focusing on learning about your company rather than trying to find it in the first place.


Increase Methods for Customer Interaction

Customer interaction, or the lack thereof, is said to be the major cause of customer friction. Interested customers want to get more invested in your brand, company or product and there is only so much a website, poster or sign can provide upon.

So make sure, be it online or offline, you have methods and facilities in place for customers to be able to easily and freely interact with your products, brand or company.

Prioritize Value-Addition

Adding value to anything can be approached in two ways – adding new features or removing the imperfections. Know that these two are different, but the one thing they in common is the value added to the product, service, brand or company.

Previously, even if you had a great design or meticulous funnels in place, customers would be hindered from purchasing your products or services since they found that it added not much in value.

Focusing on value-addition removes this hindrance and reduces customer friction. Doing so also helps increase a customer’s loyalty since you have shown that you wish to help add value to their lives and not just sell products.

Simplify Processes Wherever Possible

With the internet, global boundaries have diminished to a large extent. So, a business has to make sure that it is simple enough to be understood by the majority of its audience or population.

This will help you and your company reach the widest audience possible while not adding to the cause of customer friction.


Go On, Tell Us What You Think!

Did we miss something?  Come on! Tell us what you think about our article on Customer Friction in the comments section.


Feedough

Does anybody have any good resources on how to best analyze customer journey?

I've recently been tasked with analyzing customer journey to conversion from an analytics perspective and wow – it's a daunting task. I'm looking for assistance in identifying signal from noise and effectively communicating these insights.

If anyone has any good resources of best ways to go about this or articles on how the "best" companies do this, I'd appreciate it.

Anything is appreciated from processes, visualizations, and the nitty gritty white papers. Thanks in advance!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

GoDaddy files customer support-related patent applications

 Domain Name Wire: Patents cover a better way to provide support. GoDaddy (NYSE: GDDY) has filed a couple of patent applications (pdf, pdf) for an improved customer service experience. Whether or not you think it should be patentable, I sure wish companies would adopt this idea. The patents have two main elements to them: 1. When someone is […] P…
Domaining.com

Customer Development for an HR startup

The job search was clearly designed by the devil, not to mention the application process.
So I have an idea of how to disrupt (at least a little) the big job boards. However, I am in desperate need of information from real candidates for the purposes of Customer Development.

Therefore, I created a Google survey that will help me to identify critical issues. I initially want to start in tech job search and scale for other industries later. So even though it has some IT-related examples it is actually can be answered by anyone who searched for jobs online.

This is the link for the survey. It will take no more than a couple of minutes to finish

Thank you guys and please let me know what you think about this area.

P.S.
I know there are several big surveys done by big companies such as StackOverflow, but they are usually lengthy and cover large areas of recruiting, whereas I focusing on the one I interested in.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

How did you use customer discovery or other testing methods to determine when to quit?

This question is for people who practice any kind of customer discovery process, market validation, business idea testing — those early steps in the lean startup methodology.

I'm hoping to uncover some interesting stories here. I'm not looking for generic advice about Customer Discovery. There are 100 articles on the topic and plenty of startup success stories. There are even plenty of startup failure stories. But I'm looking for a very specific type of failure/learning… I want to hear about people disproving their hypotheses and successfully saving themselves the frustration and heartache of building things nobody wants.

When did you become confident that a business idea — your assumptions about a problem or your concept for a solution — were essentially invalid? How did you prove something wrong? What test did you use and what type of assumption did you disprove? Did you find a way to pivot or did you abandon the idea and move on to your next one? How could you have tested and disproven your riskiest assumptions even earlier and saved yourself even more time and resources?

Note: I'm NOT looking for stories about things like:

  • building something and not being able to sell it.
  • struggling to get investors to fund your idea.

I'm hoping to find some interesting stories by people who genuinely used customer discovery methods to determine definitively that an opportunity was bad, that there was no market/product fit — enough to move on.

Bonus Round: How did you quit? I mean that both logistically and psychologically.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Kustomer Acquires Reply.ai to Bring Intelligent Chatbot Capabilities to its Customer Service Platform

Another day and another acquisition in NYC Tech. This time, Kustomer, the enterprise-level customer service platform, has agreed to acquire Reply.ai to shore up its automated chat capabilities in the platform. Reply.ai was founded in 2016 and raised a total of $ 3.7M in funding.
AlleyWatch

Real Do At Home Jobs – The Best Of At Home Customer Consist Of

Multilevel marketing, network marketing and what we have often heard as “pyramid schemes” have given home businesses a bad rap. Really, multilevel and network marketing is a notion that only occurs in almost whatever and social organization on the market.

Going online to do freelance effort is definitely capacity the best stay house jobs does not matter how far along happen to be. Depending while having skills, hobbies and interests, there are many options even whenever you work at home with a newborn. Writing articles, data entry, medical transcription and virtual assistantship tend to be simply some for the choices for ladies who work at home.

Home businesses are a regarding work, but does not need to be a miserable experience. Intention should be to can afford roll a person sleep. A second income can help to pay bills while other try to do to herald extra pay the price. Do you see how down the road . achieve solid residual income?

Finding a new way to earn income may deemed a better site for you if keeping your old job does not work out. Starting your own home based business is wonderful earn income at home and who does not live to be self salaried. Brainstorm some ideas of businesses to work well for a stay work from home mom.

Does your organization have incentives and rewards that compel the promoters to reach higher desired. The main creation that I promote does the excellent job of this, that they have given away more incentives and rewards than most companies give in commissions.

Identification of the online passion: This is not as hard as may possibly sound. There is very simple test that Each year from “Crush it” educated me in about determining your dream. I highly recommend buy Gary’s book as to be able to increase your awareness to building an effective home business. A book Vaynerchuk says quite way observe if to be able to found your passion is ask yourself if just post 50 blog topics on your passion within than 5 minutes. If you can’t then keep searching for your very own passion before proceeding to the next tip.

There ‘s almost no reason to investigate an old-school conventional company that hires you. Companies such as Apple, Google, and many retail stores are not going off. Almost always, you can assume the checks they pay you will not bounce, you will be paid with your work, etc.

The advantages of nay particular job become the main centers of attraction as to whether one perform or n’t. With that, it is essential that you ensure you are aware of this benefits that are included with the online job. Check to see that it suits the lifestyle you want and that it really does not limit you.

Conversational AI for customer support: Omilia raises €18.4M funding

Omilia, an advanced AI platform for call centres that makes automated customer service has raised its first venture investment of $ 20 million (approx €18.4 million) from Grafton Capital after bootstrapping for 18 years.  

Strengthen market in North America and Western Europe!

The funding will be used to further strengthen Omilia’s direct and indirect go-to-market organisations in North America and Western Europe. Additionally, the AI platform will also invest to extend its technology footprint, in one of the few categories of AI that is already delivering significant value to large enterprises and their customers.

Offers human-like experience!

Omilia’s customer care virtual assistant uses machine learning to offer a more human-like experience. It works on all platforms – phone, web chat, social networks, SMS, email, smart speakers, and apps – and with any existing system. 

Since being formed in 2002, by Dimitris Vassos (CEO and Chief Architect), Pelias Ioannidis (Partner and CFO) and John Nikolaidis (Partner and Chief Commercial Officer), Omilia’s machine learning platform have been trained on billions of interactions. 

Fluent in 21 languages!

The company’s revenues grew by more than 100% in 2019, with the majority coming from its North American customer base. It is now fluent in 21 languages, including regional dialects and accents, and is the market leader in conversational intelligence.

For these enterprise customers, Omilia has improved call capacity by 43% and boosted self-service usage by 40% while reducing internal transfers by 96%, dropping call handling time, and the number of return calls by 50% and cutting costs by 20%. All of which increases customer satisfaction.  

Mimic human-level conversation and understanding!

Omilia’s AI was built to mimic human-level conversation and understanding. It consists of proprietary speech-recognition software (“deepASR”), voice biometrics (“deepVB”), dialogue technology (“DiaManT”), and machine learning. 

miniApps!

Running via Omilia’s Cloud Platform (OCP), “miniApps” can be instantly deployed without any coding or training. OCP miniApps are each independent, natural language components, configurable to different business rules and designed to handle single tasks. 

These “miniApps” can recognise when customers are giving addresses, telephone numbers and dates of birth; credit card details; arranging appointments, confirming information and offer generic multiple choice options

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, companies worldwide have had to direct customers online in order to prioritise and manage call volumes. Yet many call centres are not equipped for home-working due to a lack of infrastructure. Omillia’s platform provides a scalable, efficient solution.

CEO Dimitris Vassos, said:

Current automated customer service technologies promise so much but deliver so little. Refreshingly, at Omilia we are not just riding the AI wave; we are delivering the advanced levels of customer care we’ve been sold for decades, at scale, and with excellent customer experience. There is no greater reward for us than to hear our users say “thank you” and “I love you” to our virtual assistants…and it happens a lot. We abandoned the legacy approaches and outdated open standards that were holding back the customer experience, and with the customer care journey at its heart, we’ve built a platform capable of human-like natural language interaction, that delivers business benefits in the real world, at scale. Comparing Omilia with current competitors is like comparing a luxury car to an engine on four wheels. Both will get you from A to B, but you would not trust the latter for a family trip with the kids.

Oliver Thomas, Managing Partner at Grafton Capital, will join Omilia’s board of directors. 

Oliver commented: 

“We’ve spent the past months listening to industry-leading companies around the world telling us how Omilia’s platform has transformed the performance and efficiency of their contact centre operations, whilst delighting customers. Dimitris and his team have patiently and profitably built a world-class technology platform, away from the pressures of venture financing. It is a privilege to be their first outside investor at a time when more and more enterprises are learning that Omilia’s is the only AI platform that can truly deliver conversational customer experience at scale.” 

Main image credits: Omilia

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