We didn’t build Stride out of a wanting to make something huge. That came later. When we started, we found that there was not a single CRM solution that suited us for our primary functions. So we built our own. We really stuck to the MVP guidelines when we set out to build Stride. Everything was “build what you need, need what you build.”. What we first released was a core foundation to what Stride is today.
Know your industry, build your market
All of us needed a tool to manage our day-to-day interactions. We tried everything out there. Sales tracking is not one of those “here are 3 things, pick 2” industries. From what we saw, it was a “build as many things as you can, and assume that people will use them” kind of playing field. We didn’t like it.
You can read about how we took our idea and turned it into a product. All in 24 hours: Concept to Customers.
As soon as we launched our beta, a majority of our network had known about it. We reached out to nearly everyone we know in sales, business development, account management; basically anyone who did anything that required their interactions to be tracked. Nearly everyone.
Alongside word of mouth, we pushed heavily on press outlets. TechCrunch, The Industry, and GeekWire were one of the first to tell the world. Press would become a back burner item later down the road. You can’t live or die by it.
Like many things, you have a limited number of ‘cards’ with press. Try not to burn them all at one time. Stagger them out, find out what worked, make adjustments, then make another push for press.
Also, don’t forget to focus on the longterm. Marketing should be a long-tail investment, especially for SEO, link building, and content. The things that you do now can matter months or even years down the road. If you focus too much on short term success, you will suffer later on.
Know who walks in the door, and why they (might) leave
Personable customer service is a dying art these days. With many startups being so focused on product, they lose sight of the main barriers to growth. We focused (and still do) on the customer. We wanted to know who signed up, who left, and what they had to say. We incorporated a customer support help desk and forum, where concerns are addressed within 24 hours, and customers submit and vote on features. It’s a customer centric model.
When we gave our users a direct line to a real person, the feedback was tremendous. Most of the time a customer won’t provide feedback unless you ask. We asked everyone. Eventually we knew why people signed up and why people left. We knew what industries our customers came from and why they needed to use Stride.
Customer service isn’t just about post-sale. It happens everywhere.
This isn’t the 1990’s. With so much data available to us, we turned it into a game for ourselves. Changes here, changes there, we optimized as much as we could without spending an unreasonable amount of time. The biggest goal we had at the time was to make it as easy as possible for someone to sign up and start using Stride right away. That helped, a lot.
We observe anonymous data to see where hiccups occur, and we smooth them out. Sometimes users need a little bit of hand-holding. We now provide that. Wherever we see something can be improved and optimized, we find the most efficient way to do it. We focus on impact. Setting up Google Analtyics has helped us in visualizing each part of the customer interaction process. The more data that you capture and organize, the easier it is for you to make improvements.
This sort of waiting and planning has helped us avoid running around solving problems like a headless chicken. Many times, one solution solved multiple problems. It makes it simpler. Both for us and our users.
Have a mantra customers can get behind
We set out to save time. It’s amazing how many other products out there actually take more time to learn than they end up saving. Everything that we do is designed to back our mantra. Before we start building a feature, we step back to look at the big picture. “Does it save time?”. This commitment is something that we pass along to our customers. It’s at the core of Stride.
We do this both front of the house, and back of the house. Writing blog posts that revolve around productivity, and building features and improvements to reduce the time needed to complete a task. We help our users save time, end to end.
We ask ourselves questions everyday. The more we understand about why something is happening, the better we can go forward. Questions like “why isn’t this working?” to “how come this keeps happening?”. We question both failures and successes. The last thing we want to do is have something work well and have no idea why. Knowledge is power.
With that said, we’d love to answer your questions. Leave us a comment below, or fire an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org