Last week, we wrote about [intlink id="3037" type="post"]how forums helped us at Zendesk manage customer conversations[/intlink] following the announcement of our pricing changes. As you know, we ultimately decided to grandfather current customers at their current price indefinitely. While the public conversation in the forums allowed us to hear back from our users — and mostly hear that they were not happy — we had some further questions that conversation could not answer; namely:
- How representative were the vocal customers in the forums of the rest of our customer base?
- Was the real issue the price/value perception, the grandfathering terms or something else?
- How quickly and how targeted should we react?
As a followup to our previous post about the forums, we want to share how we addressed the above questions through an online survey; and how together – forums and survey – ultimately helped us move to our decision.
We considered getting on the phones to reach out and talk to people we hadn’t heard from. Even with a set list of questions, however, the data was going to be hard to accumulate and smooth out to form a conclusion. Also, it could take a lot of time to get in touch with enough people to get answers. We felt we needed to form a response more quickly.
In the end, we opted for the speed with an online survey. Who and what should we ask?
Who was easy. The whole point was to hear from customers we hadn’t heard from. So we decided to email a few hundred customers who:
- were a representative cross section of our customer base
- hadn’t opened a ticket or made a forum comment about the pricing change
- had opened the original email communication announcing the price changes (the survey objective was to get data, not to educate people who hadn’t yet heard the news)
What to ask was more difficult. We anticipated that an online survey was going to end up publicly online by someone so we were mindful with what questions we chose to ask. In this way, even though it wasn’t a formal statement, the survey was a way to communicate where we were at (in this case: that we weren’t sure what to do, but were aware we needed to do something).
We decided on a set of questions which addressed not just the pricing changes, but also more general feelings about Zendesk. (Here’s a pdf of the questions, if you are interested.)
Within 60 minutes we had 40+ responses and continued watching them come in until we had well over 100 responses.
The data showed that a majority of our non-vocal customers were pretty upset as well. While nobody likes price increases, we were trying to assess whether the level of dissatisfaction we were hearing in our forums was shared across our user base. Since the price changes didn’t impact everybody in the same way, it was critical that we heard from a representative share of our customers.
Answers showed that we could implement changes to the previous announcement that would change customer opinion and perception substantially. But the announcement had had some big impacts on Net Promoter Score (whether people recommended us or not). Pre-announcement, 91% recommended Zendesk; post-announcement: 31%. (Yikes!)
In summary, we felt we would be able to make our customers feel better by changing the terms and specifics around the grandfathering and some features. But if we wanted to regain their trust, that wouldn’t suffice. The Net Promoter data was a big indication that we had done some damage to the relationship with our customers. It wasn’t going to be enough to just fix some broken parts, we were going to have to put some care into reconciling our relationship with customers. We had to start over.
After we made our announcement that we would roll back and customers could keep their current price indefinitely, I sent out a follow-up email to thank survey takers again for their valuable input. I was surprised to get back personal responses from many of them thanking me as well.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what’s wrong; just be prepared to listen. It’s what you do in any successful relationship. While the community forums helped customers share their individual thoughts, the survey proved a good way to ask questions, to clarify, and to listen to the group more as a whole. Together, they helped us through a difficult week for Zendesk; and we learned more (as we are always learning more) about customer engagement.