Todd: Welcome to evolve radio where we explore the evolution of business and technology. Today's podcast is brought to you by Simplesat, your tool for stupidly simple satisfaction surveys. I'm joined by Derek and Cory Brown, the father and son team behind Pronto marketing and Simplesat. If you're in a service based industry, it's important to know how your customers feel about your service. Traditional satisfaction surveys are terrible, and response rates show that that's the case. Simplesat can increase your client feedback tenfold. Simple, sad. Also makes the data more actionable. Jump over to Simplesat.io for a free 30 day trial and try it out yourself now onto my interview with Derek and Cory.
Todd: Joining me on the podcast today, or Derek and Cory Brown, cofounders of Pronto marketing and simple set. Welcome to the podcast guys.
Derek: Hey, thanks for having us.
Todd: So this will be a bit of an experiment. This is actually the first time that I've had more than one guest at a time on the podcast, so we'll start with a bit of the background as we usually do. If you guys want to give us some history. I think people in the MSP market, especially, you're probably familiar with Pronto, you guys do a fair bit of work on web pages and marketing efforts for the industry. Some people may have seen simple set and the new product that you guys are working on. If you want to kick us off and give us a bit of background on where Pronto came from and your development through the, uh, through the industry.
Derek: Sure. Um, you know, I'll take that. This is Derek. Before I started pronto, Cory and I started Pronto. I worked at Microsoft for about 13 years in a variety of different positions, mobile devices and such. For one period of time I was responsible for windows small business server back in the day and spent a lot of time. Um obviously getting to know our, our partners around the world. I met partners in Australia and India and Europe all around the US had a partner advisory council. People like Curtis Hicks Arlin Sorenson and just learned a lot of, you know, really got to enjoy my time with the it guys and, and what became msps out of that. And when I decided to take a break and do something different than Microsoft and got talking to Cory about starting a company, you know, I really thought from my experience with these guys was a lot of struggles around marketing and marketing execution and getting things done. Um, and so we started pronto with the idea that we would be kind of like manage what we called managed services for marketing at that time that we would do execution and get things done for our MSP clients. And that's worked out really well. We've been doing it for 10 years. We have over 1500 clients, which are probably 900 or something. Are MSPS on all on some sort of ongoing subscription full service program along the way. Customer service became really critical to us. You know, we're doing thousands of requests a month. Major websites reduced to a quick short little updates to fixing things like broken forms. We have new customers on boarding, new customers going live sort of all through the life cycle. We started collecting this data and different sort of ad hoc ways zendesk had things are we use survey forms. Um, and you know, we're really kind of a super data geeky company. I have a fulltime data analysts that worked for me on this kind of stuff and we just started wanting to build better tools that gave us a more holistic view of things both from a CSAT or customer satisfaction at a transactional basis such as um, you know, were you happy with the support ticket to specific sorts of moments in time like the website goes live? What was that experience for you? We do NPS when people cancel with us and ask us, you know, how, what could we have done better and how do you feel about, um, you know, pronto with that kind of exit moment. And then we do quarterly N and lots of things. So really simple sat started for us as an initiative to just get better data for us and have a more holistic view. We also thought about it in terms of, you know, just wanting to have a full life cycle on our customers. For instance, we had a lot of people saying a lot of great stuff in our feedback, but we had no way to share it. That was really scaled. So we thought about that particular challenge as well. So really simple set, don't you grew out of two things which is our deep passion around customer service and doing better along with working really closely with hundreds and hundreds of MSPs day in and day out and the kind of things that they ask us, um, and the kinds of challenges that they have. And strategically for our business, it made a lot of sense because we really have come from just being a website to a full range of marketing services and adwords, facebook campaign management and custom content development and that we really have a full funnel. And the last piece in that funnel is really about customer retention and customer satisfaction and sharing feedback, you know, back to the top of the funnel. So we felt like it was a really good fit for our business.
Todd: So what I would take out of that is that the more things change, the more things stay the same. When you mentioned two things that I'm certainly familiar with that the marketing is always a heavy interest for, for customers, um, for especially people in technical fields. It's not an area that they're super comfortable with and usually need someone else to lean on for, for some of that support. And the other part that you mentioned that I'm a big believer in is that the knowledge is the easy part. The execution is where the rubber meets the road and I think that's a certainly an area where more businesses should take advantage of, uh, agencies that can support them in the areas that are not core to their business. So I think that's a really interesting that, that, that is still very evident in the industry today as well.
Derek: Yeah, we're big believers. I mean execution is hard, um, and something as simple as saying you should get a monthly newsletter out. You're in the tornado of taking care of customers and your focus is, you know, with small businesses and you're their it guy. It's so easy to punt. Send the newsletter to next week, week after week after week. And, you know, we just get it done for our clients.
Todd: The move to simple set, you mentioned a customer satisfaction scoring. This is certainly something that, uh, I'm a big, big believer in because how do you know how you're doing with your customer service if you're not actually collecting that feedback directly from the people that you're serving? And I think a lot of people make a mistake in making a lot of assumptions about what they think is happening and what they feel the client thinks about them and the relationship and they don't really have a lot of data to validate that, that visibility and to be able to justify what they either feel is the case or you know, sometimes they can just get scared and start to worry about, you know, are we okay here? Is this client or we as our relationship solid, I don't really know. They seem to say the right things when I speak to them, but they're not really giving me the warm fuzzies. So I, I think, uh, the customer satisfaction scoring really helps to objectify that data and make it clear that the clients on the ground are giving you appropriate feedback and people are satisfied with the level of service that you're giving and being able to have that as a defensible measure if anyone ever questions what you're actually offering and whether or not people are satisfied with the service. So that's sort of my view of CSAT. But uh, uh, you know, cory, if you'd like to expand on that, maybe touch on how you, your view of CSAT is important to a business,
Cory: right? Yeah. And it's a really good point that it's Kinda like before you would do all the other cool stuff with satisfaction, like publishing those testimonials are publishing your satisfaction score or integrations with third party systems like your crm or your psa. It's really getting it in place in the first place. Going from nothing to something is definitely the most important part. And it's like, you know, you're driving at night with the head without headlights on. You're just, you're completely in the dark where once you get this set up is there's kind of a peace of mind and a competence like you're saying that you know, you know every interaction, the customer at least has a chance to rate the feedback and provide feedback and it comes into the system or comes to you in a structured way where it's not just anecdotal and email to the founder of the company about a complaint or something. You hear offhand. All the tech is on site. It's captured in a structured way every time which allows you to take each piece of feedback and investigate that and dig into it in a structured way. Like in our team for example, when we get a bad satisfaction of Pronto, it sends an email to a group of people and our support manager is the person on point to dig into it and let us know what happened and we kind of do a little mini five why's analysis on that. So all of us in the company, we just know that if a customer leaves a bad review, we know that we're going to talk about it and we know that we're going to do something better to improve from it.
Todd: You hit on it being a two pronged approach. The one you have to find your way in the dark and just knowing what the customer satisfaction score is to begin with is sort of the first effort of that. If you roll this out or a and you find, hey, the satisfaction scores are great, good, and then you can continue to maintain that and address any negative feedback, but also in some cases you may launch it. And maybe this is the resistance in some why some people are not comfortable sometimes rolling out these systems is they're fearful of what they're actually going to find out and if they validate that clients are unhappy than that. That can sort of lead to some fear of validating the truth of that, which I think is kind of hiding from the inevitable. You're better off to know those things and be able to manage them appropriately rather than just sticking your head in the sand and saying, well, I don't want someone to say that what we're doing isn't working. You're much better off to be able to know that in order to fix it.
Derek: Yeah. We had a period of time where we were, at that time we were using zendesk and we were always getting 99 percent, 99 point five percent good ratings and I forget quite what was the question they would ask,
Cory: Just how satisfied are you?
Derek: Happy, you know, like people go happy. Yes. And we changed the wording a little bit, you know, something like was everything perfect. And we intentionally wanted that score to go down some because we weren't getting enough enough feedback, you know, of like, okay, we were good, but were we great? Um, so yeah, you can't hide from it. You want to keep, you know. And then then we started to get those. It dropped down to whatever, 97, 98 percent, but we got some really great feedback of people who were overall happy but like, well, now that you ask, you could have done this a little better. Um, so, you know, we just keep digging for it and sure it hurts your feelings sometimes, but you got to know
Todd: Better to know. The other piece I think is really important as well as sometimes the users are happy and the business owner is not. Usually the account manager is having a conversation with the business owner who maybe has some negative feedback and as saying, You know, well I've heard that people are not satisfied with the service that you're delivering. And being able to present some evidence to say, well that's, you know, that's not the indication that we're getting. Everyone seems to be really pleased. Maybe you're just hearing from one noisy person who keeps walking to your office to say that they're dissatisfied. Uh, so I think the, the, again that, that objective data to be able to have a data point to control the conversations that you're having with the client around certain narratives that may or may not be true, I think is really, really helpful as well. The other piece that I think is great for the, the approach that you guys are taking is reducing the friction from giving surveys and collecting that data. Uh, I'm sure everyone has been sent emails that says, Hey, please fill out the survey. And most people delete them. But if are actually inclined to fill out that survey, they click a link and realize that it's a four page, a web forum that they have to weed their way through typing into open fields and scoring on a rating of 10. And uh, they, they go through the first page and probably give up after that. And you guys are taking the approach of limited friction where just give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down or a smiley face or a frowny face. And that really helps the user to be able to just give you a single click within the email, within the ticket, within the webpage, and reduces that friction of them actually being able to provide the feedback that you are looking for.
Cory: Yeah, there's a few parts there. One is about the one click feedback, which is really important. Like you're saying, if you get an email that says please take five minutes out of your day to take a survey and there's a button there, it's the response rate's going to be super low because right there, you know, you're asking kind of like you're asking something that just no one wants to do in the first place. And the second part is that once you're on a survey, it's, they're usually the user experience is pretty bad and the design is bad. And there's a, you see the pagination and it's like one out of 20 and you're like, no, no way. I'm going to answer this so that we combine the one click feedback. So that's where you see the smiley faces in an email or thumbs or um, an NPS net promoter score, zero through 10 question and email. Once you click that, you're already answering question number one and that is already captured in the system whether they complete the rest of the survey or not. So that's already there, increasing your response rates and increasing the number of overall responses you're going to get. And then two, once you're on the survey, we're doing as much as we can to create a fun and interactive and intuitive survey process that is really different from the mean right now, which is this really kind of boring, ugly, arduous task where it's actually kind of fun and it shouldn't be a, you know, leave a positive image for your company after your customer takes a survey that it's like, wow, that was, that was cool what they just did that, you know, they have their stuff together.
Todd: Excellent. So you guys are generally serving the MSP and IT service market, but obviously CSAT is something that's pretty universal, especially in any type of a service entity. You, you guys don't limit yourself or view the product, as centric around it service providers do you?
Cory: So at the moment I'm kind of yes and no, we do have customers that are non MSPs using the product and most of them are still technology companies that are relying on a help desk, zendesk or a freshdesk to collect customer satisfaction. Um at the moment we are over 90 percent of our users are msps and we're finding more and more as we get into this. Just how um, you know, there's, there's all these different industries and niches and just how much each individual one requires an incredible amount of focus and attention to really get it right. So while we, it's kind of just the, the non msps are just coming in through word of mouth or organically, but the product that we're building right now is really centered around Msps, around support that we offer and the integrations that we have and the marketing and everything around that. Mainly it service.
Todd: Okay, great. And what type of feedback are you getting from the clients? I imagine there's the party that it didn't have any type of a program in place and I'm sure they're wowed and then you may have some people that are coming over from a different types of surveys systems. Can you maybe touch on both of those scenarios or any other type of success stories that you have?
Cory: Yeah, sure. So, um, and like you said that there's definitely two camps. One, they were doing nothing before and now they're, they're completely eye opening for the company to have this sort of data a user for to be an internal mail just the other day that they've sent out to their team where they say, um, you know, this, this data is beyond valuable and they're sharing the dashboards with our team in an email and kind of doing a weekly pep talks with the team and saying, you know, now we're up our satisfactions up a few points. We drop one the last week, so let's keep it up. Stuff like that. So that's really cool to see that it's actually making a, um, a driving impact on a company from other users switching over from other services. We've received a lot of feedback that they're receiving more responses, the response rates are going up from other solutions they were using and also our testimonial testimonial publishing widgets on websites are a huge hit where before they were just, they weren't really able to take advantage of positive feedback and one feature was simplesat is you can publish it, you can publish feedback on your website in real time and display it on your homepage or a testimonials page. So that's a big hit where we have a lot of users displaying that feedback on the webpage.
Todd: Yeah, that's a cool feature as well that you can actually see, hey, this was feedback from this morning or yesterday afternoon. It gives, uh, the, the, the, the, the vision around the fact that this is real time data that you're not sort of cherry picking testimonials from four years ago and leaving them up on the website, that there's fresh stuff coming in and people are satisfied with the service that you're, that you're providing something that's a really cool plus as well. That kind of leads to I guess some of the other feature sets. That's one of the differentiators that I certainly see in simple sat from the other products in the, in the industry. Um, it's not something that didn't exist before. So I'm curious why you guys decided to develop your own product to meet this need. If you either saw that there was something missing in the market or you felt that there was a competitive advantage that you can produce a against the competitors that were there.
Cory: Yeah, sure. So, um, as they are in the beginning, as simple as that really came from us with Pronto not having the solution that we really want. So a lot of this comes from our learnings about everything from feeling like the surveys aren't interactive and intuitive enough for users to, um, know there's no, a lot of different survey tools. They only do one thing, so they only do a CSAT ticket feedback where a lot of other tools specialized just in net promoter score collection or um, you know, there's other tools like survey monkey or type form that make really great survey tools, but really don't focus on the customer satisfaction element or focus on the MSP market. So when we look at customer satisfaction, we really view it as there's three areas that, one is surveys, so doing a great job at presenting surveys to customers and collecting data on two is the insights piece where once you collect the data as taken advantage of it in your own dashboard, uh, leaderboards and stats, integrations, notifications, reporting, and the third one is taking that customer satisfaction back out kind of top of funnel thing where you're actually using it as a marketing tool to increase website conversions and show your satisfaction percentage on a website or point positive customers to leave a good review on Google or facebook or some industry pay.
Cory: So we've seen a lot of, there's other competitors or other companies that do a great job at one of these areas, but we're not seeing a lot of it does a great job in every area and we really want to take ownership over every part from beginning to end. And that's how we think we can have the most high quality. Yeah. Product in that process.
Todd: Right. So kind of wrapping in a bunch of the different products that are available out there. Uh, the CSAT is the one that, that is sort of the core of the product right now. Uh, the, the other components that we've tucked on, touched on are more in the roadmap and things that you're developing. Do you want to touch on sort of what you see as the development and the roadmap for the product and what people would hope to see in the next six to 12 months?
Cory: Working on a net promoter score email feature. So this will allow MSPs to sync their customer list with simple sat. I will start with connectwise and autotask and infusionsoft and you sync the customer lists and all the fields that you need there. And you can create an audience within simple sat to make sure that you're only sending that net promoter score email to like active contacts with connectwise or infusionsoft. We use the person type and we'll manage all of the sending rules and delivery and where you can set it up on autopilot, where email sends out once a quarter to all your active contacts between Monday and Friday, five to nine, nine to 5:00 PM, evenly spread about the distribution between your lists, so it'll be a great. We've done this for Pronto for years now, but it's a great autopilot where you just know it's not like something you need to put on your calendar to do the NPS survey and like just like marketing, you're going to forget to do it or punt it. It's just on autopilot. It's always working. The feedback's coming in just like CSAT, so that's the the nps feature and we have that. We'll be ready to start testing in August. Other types of integrations, we're just working on getting deeper in the IT market, so for example, we're working on getting with a direct integration with bright gauge now users can integrate with BrightGauge at the moment through our dropbox integration. We'd like to get deeper with Brightgauge with that and just working with other partners and vendors and tools such as IT Glue and connectwise and autotask and all of them just getting deeper with that.
Todd: Great. And the NPS, we kinda touched on it a couple of times when people may not be as familiar with it because we kind of elaborated on CSAT. Maybe if you could just give us a bit, uh, a bit of a download on, on the usefulness of NPS as well.
Derek: Yeah. NPS is great for, for two reasons. It came from some research that, um, that you guys did at Bain, it must be 20 years ago or something and wrote a book called the ultimate question. And what they found was through kind of two things, one, that the most effective kind of question you could ask someone was, would you recommend this company to a friend or a colleague? Um, in one way or another. Um, they also did some interesting research that companies that actively did do customer service and follow up on it had greater growth in their, in their, um, in their stock price. It was actually kind of an analysis on the impact of the financials of a company that are focused on customer service. The great thing about NPS is not only, it's a proven methodology in terms of this question, but it's now benchmark across all kinds of industries and you know, you can go out and find benchmarks and see how you can compare. So I think it's just, it's a, you know, it's not a, it's not a solution for everything. There's other information that you need, like nps is not good for a ticket satisfaction. Maybe it's more like a quarterly or something to kind of check in with your customer on this kind of. I'm feeling about the overall relationship. You know, we also use a methodology, you know, something like raider that's kind of in between CSAT and NPS and of digging down a little bit more. Um, but I think at a minimum, especially say for an MSP, you need that CSAT transactional, how do we do on this ticket? And that's kind of a real hot, you know, kind of question that you can watch go up and down over time. And then you step back and ask your NPS and get that feeling of overall how people feel about the relationship.
Todd: Right. That's a great summary. So you're kind of collecting that, that similar type of data both from the top end of the relationship as well as the transactions within that relationship. Right?
Cory: Right. And then once you have those in place, it's really insightful. Um, when you're collecting both CSAT and NPS feedback. At Pronto, we know this where you'll, there'll be cases where you might have a really high CSAT score for customer, but in lower NPS score and the other way around and something like that could happen where, you know, the techs are always friendly and they always get things right the first time, but maybe overall your service is really overpriced or maybe you're missing a, a service component that's really inconvenient for the customer. So while they're really happy with the day to day interactions, they're not likely to recommend your company to a friend, but you know, it could be the other way around to where maybe there's a few texts that they just don't really like working with. But overall they're super happy to recommend you because they see a lot of value in the service and know they couldn't live without you. So that's been really helpful for us at Pronto that, you know, if you're only doing, it's Kinda like you're not doing anything, you're totally driving in the dark, but if you're only doing one that it's half the picture. So getting both in place really helped us.
Todd: Yeah. As I often say, a data does not give you any answers. It'll only help you out. Ask more intelligent questions.
Cory: Yeah. And like with asking questions, it's one thing that's great too about getting this feedback is it opens up a conversation with your customer and that's really what's important, that it's giving more channels and more opportunities to open up the conversation and the real meaningful insights that's going to happen. Or once they answer a question that you follow up with them and then you have a conversation about that. That's really one of the biggest values of a tool like this.
Todd: Yeah. And customer satisfaction is something that people absolutely need to take seriously. It's your best defense against commoditization in any type of service based industry. You need to develop deep, meaningful relationships with your clients and being able to collect that data and know that you're on track is super, super critical. If people are not collecting CSAT information and they're curious about the product, where would you suggest they go to check things out?
Cory: Right? Yeah. You can go to simplesat.io and just follow the sign up process. From there we have a free 30 day trial where you can use the product in its full form, do test it out and implement your system. So super easy to get going and I'm always available for support or helping implement with anything. So
Todd: anything I haven't asked or anything we haven't touched on that we showed in the conversation.
Derek: You've done a pretty good job.
Todd: If listeners want to connect with you and ask a follow along on social, any avenues that they should look for you on?
Cory: Yes, so you can find us on facebook and linkedin. Our emails are email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm probably the best way to get in contact though is to go to our website at simplesat.io and just chat. Start chatting with us with the widget in the bottom right corner.
Todd: Okay. Awesome. Well appreciate you coming on the show and talking a bit about NPS and CSAT and all the cool stuff that you're delivering to the market.
Cory: Yeah. Well thank you so much for the time and yeah, thanks a lot.
Derek: We appreciate it.
Todd: I hope you've enjoyed our conversation about simplesat and the importance of client feedback. If you haven't already, go to simple sat.io and test it out with a free 30 day trial. Also, if you haven't yet subscribed to evolve radio, please subscribe. That way you'll get the latest episodes straight to your smartphone.