Interview with Josh Pigford, CEO and Founder of Baremetrics — part of our “Customer-Obsessed” series.
In this Interview, Josh Pigford shares how they’ve built strong relationships with customers at Baremetrics, and his thoughts on what it means to be a customer-focussed business.
Josh, tell us about Baremetrics and how you got started.
I started Baremetrics towards the end of 2013, really as a “scratch-my-own-itch” kinda thing. I had a couple other Saas products that I was running at the time and needed insights into things that typical subscription companies need, monthly recurring revenue, lifetime value, and churn. There just wasn’t a great way to get that stuff. You either had to build out some internal tool or complex excel spreadsheet that required a lot of manual work to keep it updated — or you would have to use some existing generic analytics platform that required an engineer to send in all the data, and getting all historical data in was problematic nearing impossible. There weren’t many great options.
That’s where Baremetrics started, there was a problem of getting business insights without a significant amount of work and effort on the business’ part. I started off doing everything, it was just me for the first six months or so doing design, development, marketing, customer support, all that stuff. Then we’ve just kinda been growing since then, we’re at six people now, and technically, I guess I’m CEO, but CEO of a six-person company is a little bit of a generous title. I do lots of things.
Our customer really always has been, and still is typically the founder. From the one-person startup who’s literally just starting up, to companies that have hundreds of employees and are doing $10 million to $20 million a year.
How would you describe the relationship you have with your customers?
From very early on, and I wouldn’t say this was necessarily intentional, we’ve had a really conversational relationship with our customers. That’s as easy as doing things like jumping on the phone with every customer. Not to sell them on things, but just to simply ask “How can we help your business? Are there any questions we can answer?”. If we can equip businesses to succeed, whether that’s from the education side of things, or just holding their hands through using a feature so that they get the most out of it, then that ultimately trickles back to Baremetrics. We try and simply talk to our customers as much as possible. Every customer’s different, some would prefer to not ever talk to us, and then some thoroughly enjoy that, but we try and foster as much conversation as we can, and as we’ve grown we’ve been able to automate and become smarter with a lot of the initial outreach.
The benefit of building conversational relationships is that it gives a face to the software your customers are using, which can often be this faceless entity. Most people that use Baremetrics know of either me or our customer success guy Kaegan. It also tends to give us really great feedback from customers. You’re much more likely to give honest feedback, and a lot less likely to be a jerk about it too when you know that there’s a human on the other side that you’ve had a conversation with before. What I mean by that is we get really great feedback from people delivered in a constructive way, that isn’t just like, “I hate this thing and you’re all stupid”. We’re able to constantly know what is and what isn’t working when it comes to helping businesses solve their problems.
What are the initial steps you take when communicating with customers that lead to strong customer relationships?
Well, the idea that a customer could in any way grasp the full extent of what they can do with your software within a 14-day trial or even the first two months of using the software is a little crazy because there’s just too much. The chances are your software’s pretty powerful and can be used in a lot of different ways.
We don’t need to slam the user with 50 different emails or a long in-depth welcome tour, it’s overwhelming and as soon as they’ve done a few of these similar things with other products, they’ll just start closing them when they get them.
Think about the context that you’re educating people with emails or notifications about using different features. A lot of times companies are sending them to everybody on the same schedule, every two days until they’ve sent them all. Instead, what we do is not send a whole lot of feature-specific notifications or emails in the early days, and when we do, they’re triggered based on behaviors. So if you’re already using the revenue breakout feature in Baremetrics, you don’t need to know about it. You’re already using it. But if you’ve viewed your Monthly Recurring Revenue a ton and you still haven’t found the revenue breakout feature within that, then okay, you probably would find that email really useful because it’s related to MRR.
Baremetrics itself as a product changes a lot, and we’re constantly with the stuff that we’re building. But again, when we introduce a new feature, rarely do we just like slam every single person with, “Hey, new feature.” It gets seeded out based on how recently we’ve contacted them, or it’s based on if they’re using a certain feature already or not. We use Intercom and I think have something like over 90 different messages that are automated, but they’re heavily segmented, so no one ever gets all 90. They might get a lot of those, but I mean, that could be spread out over the course of a year. If we’ve just sent something yesterday, we’re not gonna send you anything the next day, it’s too much. This communication can span itself out over months of using Baremetrics so that we can be as helpful as possible, knowing that you will slowly get more and more familiar with it over time.
It’s about surfacing certain parts of the app when it’s most useful to that specific user. How can we make our product itself more useful to the role the customer’s playing? Being smart in telling users what’s possible.
What does being customer-focussed mean to you?
I think it’s keeping a truly open line of communication. Making it both logistically & technically really easy for our customers to get in touch with us, whether that is some live chat thing or being really active on social so that our response to a customer is beyond quick. That helps them know we care about them. Like I mentioned before it’s also setting the right tone so that customers, and even I would say even potential customers who’ve been following Baremetrics have the feeling like of “oh, if I shoot them an email and I’ll get a quick response.” Maintaining the human aspect of this as much as possible is key. If someone is frustrated with the product it helps us to understand what is at the core of that frustration.
As a company, the fundamental thing we’re trying to do is to help other businesses. We’re helping them to make wise decisions that are rooted in data, but I mean, at the end of the day the data itself is just sort of a tool. Whichever way we’re looking at things, whether that’s copy we’re using in our features or the way that we interact with customers in a support request, it all boils down to us wanting to just genuinely be helpful people.
What’s your advice to other founders wanting to build a customer-focussed team?
Definitely humanize your problems as much as possible. When you’re talking about a bug or something that comes up in software, it’s easy to refer to things by ID numbers in a database, and when you do that you really don’t know who it is you’re actually talking about. So a lot of times when we talk about bugs at Baremetrics, we first give an in-depth background of the company and the user who’s experienced the problem. Software itself is just lines of code that can be kinda dry and boring and not personal at all, so as much as you can attach problems to companies and the people behind them. This little weight you can add definitely goes a long way to helping the team, because then they’re able to picture that stuff and picture the problem that’s affecting Jane, sitting in her office, stopping her from doing her job well.
So much stuff revolves and comes out of interactions with customers. When you are constantly doing this I think it naturally permeates the company. That includes engineers, try and get them to answer support tickets too. Create as much interaction as you can possibly manage while still being productive, the natural byproduct of that is you end up being customer-obsessed!
About Josh Pigford: Josh is the CEO and Founder of Baremetrics. You can learn more about Josh here.
About Baremetrics: Baremetrics is Subscription Analytics and Insights: One click and you get hundreds of valuable metrics and business insights!
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