Welcome to the very first blog post by your friends here at Idiomatic. We’ve chosen a blog to announce ourselves instead of your run-of-the-mill funding announcement because, frankly, we don’t currently have plans to raise any money. We’ve already accomplished some amazing things, and we’re very excited about what’s next. We’re working on important problems, we’re overcoming big challenges, and we’re having fun doing it. But first things first, how did we get here?
What we believe.
What is an important truth that very few people agree with?
— Peter Thiel
This is a question that Paypal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel often asks startup founders. Here’s what we believe:
Products that win feel magical. Customer feedback provides the path to eliminating the friction disrupting that magic.
If you’re a CEO or a Product Manager, you might be shaking your head right now. After all, you’re in a race. There are ten companies that sort of do what you do, not to mention some Google-sized shark just waiting to pounce. You have to be innovating, creating new things, going from zero to one. You have limited resources and customers can’t be trusted to guide them. What if you waste resources on the wrong small improvements that don’t move the needle?
The lean approach is to get your product in the hands of customers as quickly as possible … but what happens next? How do you take a pretty good product and iterate your way to a great one? At its core, our belief is fueled by a changing world in which customers now have higher expectations and demand experiences that “just work.” Competition is fierce and customers vote with their feet.
We’ve seen it time and again: when there is a crowd, the winning product delivers the simplest, most friction-free customer experience. If you asked any Slack user in 2014 why it was better than Yammer, the answer would likely be “It just works!”. Slack is now valued at $3Bn. Over ½ of all people using internet browsers (which is a lot of people) switched from existing browsers to Chrome because it just worked better. Simple, frictionless design allowed Apple to charge a premium for its products; it’s now one of the most valuable companies in the world.
So, if you want to succeed in today’s crowded world, you need to build a great product that people love. We believe that producing that magic requires a relentless vigilance and elimination of pain points from your product or service based on the feedback that you get. This is what we want to help you do.
A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
— Steve Jobs.
People may not know what they want, but Idiomatic is built on the premise that they know what’s painful. Today’s complex set of channels, platforms, and customers makes identifying these pain points extremely difficult. You can’t simply interview customers or look at user behavioral data. Interviews are anecdotal and behavioral data doesn’t capture how customers feel. You have to listen to all of the feedback customers are willing to give you, structure it in reasonable way, and understand it at scale.
So, if you read that Steve Jobs quote and think that you don’t need to pay attention to what customers say, think again. Your job is to discover what’s causing your customers’ pain by asking the right question. The right question is simple: “How and where are you experiencing pain?”. That is to say, allow customers to tell you exactly where problems are happening in your product or service, which is precisely what we allow you to do with Idiomatic.
Our mission is to give companies a roadmap for creating magical experiences with their products or services.
Our tools will enable all of our customers to have clear, data-driven criteria for prioritizing resources in order to improve their products or services.
What we do.
Idiomatic makes it easy for companies to understand feedback from customers. We identify and track all issues and trends that customers bring up in customer support inquiries, NPS survey responses, and app reviews. We break those issues into granular parts that can be readily understood and solved. We also understand the sentiment of each piece of feedback so that companies can get a brand new view on pain points actually weighted by customer pain. We put all of that information in one easy dashboard so that companies can take action to improve product-market fit, reduce churn, and increase growth.
What we do is not simple. We aren’t tallying up structured data (like multiple-choice surveys) or graphing log data (like a BI tool). We take raw, unstructured text from a customer and we make sense of it. This requires understanding (in an automated way, if you want to make any money) the intent of language, sentiment and tone, and the types of requests. But, all of this work is worth it when you get actionable results.
Idiomatic can tell you which issues and features in your product cause the most problems for customers. Idiomatic can tell you where things are getting better. Idiomatic can tell you where things are getting worse. Armed with this knowledge, you can make better decisions and know where to apply your limited resources to make your business better.
Who we are.
We are Ariel Kleiner, Chris Martinez, and Kevin Yang of course! We’ve previously used data to help put food in people, used data to help put babies in people, and used machine learning to help put insights from data in people‘s hands. We have two BAs from Harvard, a BA, a JD, and two MBAs from Stanford, and a PhD from UC Berkeley. But, enough about us, let’s get to the good stuff.
We got started on this journey six months ago because we had a unique outlook on customer feedback and we believed that we were the right people to unlock the potential of that data. We have experience dealing with vast quantities of complex data, building great products, and running complex operations with millions of customers. We experienced first-hand the frustration of not really knowing how our customers felt, what was causing them pain, or where to apply limited resources to fix these problems. Like every other company, we made judgment calls and used our gut. Like every other company, our gut was often dead wrong. We grew tired of flying blind, and we started Idiomatic so that others don’t have to either.
Suffice it to say, if you want to know how to make better decisions for your business and for your customers, you’ll love Idiomatic as much as we do.
It’s been an incredible six months. We’ve already processed hundreds of thousands of pieces of customer feedback. We’ve gathered data from almost every single helpdesk. We’ve applied our analysis to companies in industries such as e-commerce and business services all the way to government utilities and mobile gaming. We’ve built some really cool technology. And, we’re pretty sure that we’ve now thought about tagging and structuring customer feedback more than anybody on earth. But, there is so much more to come and so much more to learn.
Our mission won’t be complete until every company clearly understands how to deliver the magical experiences that their customers demand. That will next require us to process millions of tickets, sign up hundreds of customers, and dedicate more time than we’d like to admit. We want to share what we’re learning as we go. This blog is the place where we’ll do that. Click on the “follow” button to your right to receive updates.