Presented live on Tuesday, Feb 27, 2018
A guided feature tour vs a video tour from the CEO. Which one do users respond better to? In this tutorial, the founder of Know Your Company employee engagement software Claire Lew shares her before-and-after case study of optimizing their onboarding flow. See how her team got a 44% increase in activation.
This tutorial is brought to you by Airstory writing software.
Joanna Wiebe: Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening wherever you are. Joanna here from Copy Hackers and Heir Story, joined by Miss Sarah Dlin, as per usual, and today our special guest to cap off Sass Month is Claire. Claire from Know Your Company. Hello, Claire.
Claire Lew: Hey, Joanna. Thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here.
Joanna Wiebe: Thanks for joining us today. I’m stoked to have you here. We have people filing in right now, so some very quick housekeeping, we are recording this, but it’s awesome to stay, go through the live experience, ask questions at the end of this tutorial, and chat if you have … if you just want to say hi, you wanna be like, “Welcome, Claire, to the group,” feel free to chat over whatever you feeling like chatting. As long as it’s nice and what else? Why wouldn’t it be nice?
Claire Lew: Hopefully nice.
Joanna Wiebe: Q and A is … Right? Q and A is where we put questions that you’d like Claire to answer at the end of the tutorial, which will be approximately 20 minutes. And today, Claire is gonna walk us through some big changes that they made over at Know Your Company, which is one of her two main things. Things, that’s … I’m a writer. That’s the word that we use. Things. [inaudible 00:01:23] Other … She’s also got water cooler as well, which hopefully we’ll hear about later today, too. So, again, I know everybody’s still filing in, getting settled. That’s cool but this is a 20-minute tutorial, so I’m gonna let you take over from here, Claire.
Claire Lew: Awesome. Thanks so much again for having me, Joanna and Sarah. Big fan of the work that you both do. I … Yeah. I’m super excited to talk a little bit about what sort of progress we’ve made, in terms of thinking about our onboarding system as a software product. And so just to back up, though, a little bit and provide some context, because I warned Joanna, actually, even before this call that we do things kind of weird and a bit unconventional. And we’re kind of a weird company and so everything that you see with Tuesdays-torials, all to be taken with a grain of salt. And so I’m excited to hear the different questions folks have as well. But, yeah.
Like Joanna mentioned, I’m the CEO of Know Your Company. We are a software tool that helps other CEOs, business owners, and managers get to know their employees better by asking regular questions and soliciting employee feedback. And we have a little bit of a interesting history as a company, in the sense that we actually were originally built by base camp about four years ago. And so they actually built Know Your Company as a product. They just, honestly, as a little prototype as themselves. They started selling it, they got 100 customers in six months and they were like, “Whoa. Wait a second. This is big. This is not just a product, this is a business.” And at the time, I’d started a consulting practice helping other CEOs get to know their company better, and my first client actually happened to be base camp and their CEO, Jason Freed.
And so Jason and I got to talking, he was like, “Claire, we want to hire you as a consultant, but also there’s this product and we don’t really know what to do with it and it’s really taking off.” And we riffed a little bit on the product and he came back to me a few months later and was like, “Claire, I have this crazy idea. We’ve never done this before but what if we spun off Know Your Company and be its own separate stand-alone company and you ran it as the CEO?” And I was like, “That sounds amazing!” And so here’s the thing. So I inherited this product that was really, really early-stage, really sort of green and, honestly, they had no intention of growing it into a company. So it was just this prototype, right? And then it was like, “Alright, Claire. Go sell it.”
And the interesting thing about this is what the onboarding and sales process look like in that very first year. So the way that we sold the product was we actually, and some of you who are familiar with Know Your Company and our history, you had gone to KnowYourCompany.com about four years ago, you would have come to a website that just had a letter on it, no screenshots of the product, no demo, no video, and the only way that you could actually buy the product is if you scheduled a 30-minute in-person demo with me on WebEx. And over the course of about two years I did almost 500 demos, right? And to this day we work with over 15,000 employees in over 25 different countries, right? And a lot of that actually happened in those first few years, and I’m sure some of you watching this are like, “What? Claire, that’s insane. Why would you ever not even have an onboarding process?” Right?
So literally the way we onboarded folks was manually, but the reason we did this is because the product was so early we didn’t know the best way to onboard people. So I just chose to do it manually and for me it was the best learning to eventually design the process that we now have today. And the other interesting thing about doing this is what we observed is that Know Your Company as a product, it works best when you have the whole company using it and when it’s something that’s very much led by the CEO, right? So it’s not this thing you can just use with five people and just a team member who’s leading it, it has to really be driven by the business owner and you have to really get the most value be using it across the company.
So if you can imagine trying to create an onboarding flow where you get the buy-in of the CEO to be using it and then actually implementing it across their entire team, that’s really, really hard to do automatically. So that’s why we were doing it manually at first. We wanted to figure out, well, can you even translate that into manually, right? Or should we be changing the product, right? Which way do we go? So when we did that for almost two years and then in about the Summer of 2016, decided we’d learned enough and it was time to go self-service, right? So we built our first onboarding flow, which I’m actually gonna share my screen in a minute.
I’m gonna share a screenshot with you. I tried to actually pull it up on my machine, and I think the latest version of [inaudible 00:06:19] isn’t updated on my computer so it keeps crashing. So I’m sorry, everyone. You’re not gonna be able to see the old version, but I have a screenshot and I’ll walk you through it. So I’m gonna show what we actually launched. Here, give me one second. Back in … Share my screen. Back in 2016. So you might see double of me for two seconds, so just bare with me here as I switch over. So can we see the … Hopefully.
Joanna Wiebe: We can.
Claire Lew: Can we see Joanna? Okay. So just the screenshot of me … You should just be seeing another face of me, but I’m not moving in this one.
Joanna Wiebe: Yes. Exactly.
Claire Lew: Okay. As long as it’s working. Okay. So here’s just the screenshot if you were to sign up for Know Your Company using self-service. And, again, this is now … this is back in 2016. Here’s what you would have gotten. You would have logged in, you would have seen a fake picture of me, right? Which, again, very weird. And there’s a video and actually there are four steps here, right? And each of these steps actually had a video, about a one-minute video, of me. And the first step is I … We welcomed everyone to the software. Below here in this section you would have gotten to read about all the different parts of Know Your Company and how it works. And then you could play the video to hear me talk about what the philosophy of the software was based on and who it’s really for, right? So that would be step one and you could see there are four different steps here.
The second step is then we ask people to add their employees, right? And you could upload them via Google, but again, there was a video of me. Very weird, very, honestly, it’s weird. Video of me and I’ll explain why we did this, though, in a second … of me for about, again, a minute or so explaining, this time though, “Hey, it’s really important that you try using Know Your Company with at least five other people because that’s actually where you’re gonna get the most insights. You already know, probably, two or three people, so if you just use Know Your Company with two or three people, you’re not gonna learn anything, which is the whole point of using the software.” Right? So I would explain that, I’d explain how important it was to have the buy-in of the CEOs. So if you weren’t CEO or the business owner or how it was important to involve them in the process.
And then step three, which again, and sorry I don’t have screenshots of these, or that I couldn’t pull this up. But hopefully you can imagine this. Step three was, alright, time to choose your start date, right? And then you would pick. Would you like to start today and start asking your questions and getting to know everyone in the company? Or would you like to start next week? Et cetera.
And then the last step here, or the final step, step four, is actually just simply a confirmation screen, right? Saying, “You’re done. Awesome. You’re scheduled to start Know Your Company and what would be great for you to do next is make sure you make a personal announcement to your team about kicking this off if you haven’t already. And we can send one for you, but make sure you just have that personal announcement.”
So that’s what … And here. I’m gonna flip back to the zoom and stop sharing my screen for a second. Alright. So that’s what we did back in 2016. That was our first stab at this new onboarding flow, right? And you’re probably thinking, “Okay, Claire. Why did you do video? You took this long time, first of all, to even switch to onboarding, and now you’re doing video. Why is that?” And what we realized is that it was because what we learned in that almost two years of doing almost 500 in-person manual demos onboarding people and trying to sell them this software is that you want to, at least for us and our case, optimize for trust over efficiency so that our best customers, right? So the people who bought Know Your Company, right? The kick-starters, the Air BNBs that we worked with of the world, they bought the software when they really were invested and really understood and were bought into the concept. And that takes time.
So for a lot of onboarding flows that I’m sure you’ve seen here or elsewhere, you’ll notice it’s all about speed, right? It’s all about just getting people through the funnel as quickly as possible, which is totally mesmeric. But at least for this first version, we thought in our case, we need the quality of the customer to be really good in order for the product to work for them. So let’s optimize for getting your trust over just making it super efficient.
So we did different innervation of this version of the onboarding flow for, I wanna say, about eight to ten months, maybe about a year. And it was working, but then we started seeing some really interesting problems. So the video’s a really interesting idea for optimizing for trust, right? It’s a lot you can feel someone’s personal rapport. We got a lot of great anecdotal from people saying, “Claire, I love the fact that there’s a video. It’s you. It’s personal.” My phone number is in there, right? It’s very personal, but we started seeing some issues, one which was that the average amount of time that someone was spending during that onboarding process to upload all their employees and start using Know Your Company was an hour and a half. Yeah. Really, really long. I know. Very, very long. An hour and a half, right? And we’re like, “Oh. I know we were trying to optimize for trust, but did we swing too far on the other way?” Right? We completely missed the efficiency side and an hour and a half … Wow. People … There’s no way that people are staying engaged.
The other thing that is … that was interesting that we found is that people, yes, were great customers when they trusted Know Your Company and they tended to add more employees, right? But more than that, they would buy the software if they had a really first great month of responses, right? So if they had a great first month of getting a lot of really interesting information from employees, and the problem with our onboarding flow was we didn’t optimize for that. So we didn’t help the CEO or manager figure out what questions to ask first. We didn’t help them in the beginning customize that personal announcement very well, right? We realized that that first month was … it’s like that first impression, right? That … with your company of any new tool. Every company these days has used twenty different engagement tools and slack and it’s … So you want … If you’re introducing a new tool, you want it to be so positive and so we realized that our current onboarding flow didn’t really optimize for that first month being an awesome experience.
And so we decided to go back to the drawing board this past Fall and rethink entirely what this new onboarding flow, then, should be. And how can we find a way to drastically reduce the amount of time that people are taking to get set up? Better explain the product more thoroughly, right? And get that trust, but in a way where people can do it at their own pace. It was taking an hour and a half because you’ve got videos, right? And because it’s four different steps, so you have to go back to save … It just didn’t … It was too much, right?
And then the other thing is what if we could find a way to design the onboarding flow where we tried to encourage a greater response rate from the employees, right? So how do we help a CEO or manager customize their questions? How do we help them customize their welcome message? Give them that flexibility ’cause the other thing we realized is, well, maybe they’re taking an hour and a half to finish this onboarding flow because they’re worried and freaking out about is this gonna be seen as positively by my employees? When you’re a manager and you’re rolling something out and new to your team, you don’t want to look stupid. So you poke around and try to make sure it sounds like you and you don’t want it to be lame. And we just didn’t have that kind of customization, as you saw in the first onboarding flow.
So what do we do? Alright, well I’m gonna show you guys and I’m gonna take you through exactly a live version of what our current onboarding flow is. And keep in mind this is something that we launched in December so it’s still really fresh. We’re still learning as we go as well.
So I’m gonna share my screen again and again you’re gonna see me double, or triple, really quickly. Yes.
Joanna Wiebe: Perfect.
Claire Lew: Alright, can you see me? Alright, you should just see the sign-up screen for Know Your Company. Nothing crazy here. So we’re going to pretend … My brother, actually, his name is Patrick. He works at Google so we’re gonna pretend that we’re Patrick and we are … we’re signing up for Know Your Company for our team. So you would sign up and here’s the first page that you’re actually gonna get, right? Which is getting to understand, well, who exactly is this person who’s signing up, right? So you have actually a little note from me saying, “Hey, Patrick. I’d love to get to know you. With whom are you planning to use Know Your Company?” Just one team, right? “And with how many people?” Let’s say it’s actually about a 15-person team. “And what’s the biggest problem that you’re facing with?” We don’t know what we’re working on. What’s fascinating about this … I forget what the exact statistic is but most people actually filled this form out, which is interesting. And what it does is that it helps us in our follow-up emails, right? It helps us in understanding the context, right? So it’s very different if people use Know Your Company with just one team versus the entire company. So this is something that helps us just do better sort of business to the element on our end. And then submit the answer.
And then here’s where the onboarding flow that really kicks off, which is we start with actually introducing the tool and doing a self-guided tour. And you’ll notice it’s from me here, right? Which is actually very awkward but, I don’t know, someone who’s an introvert but … Seeing that. But that’s what it is and, again, to make it more personal and, again, still trying to optimize for trust. But you’ll notice that we’re doing a self-guided tour, so people can get to know the software on their own pace, right? Without having to watch a video of me talking, without just looking at screenshots. And we actually just start with the philosophy, right? We’re not even starting with the nuts and bolts of features. We’re starting with what we think culture that is successful in companies is based on.
So we say, “Hey, here’s what we think an honest open culture really depends on and this is actually what our software has been designed around,” right? And you can cancel the tour at anytime but most people have not canceled, actually. So then you click through and we take you to, actually, what the question set-up screen is. And, again, it’s a self-guided tour, so we say … So what we do is we start by sending a welcome message and five fun ice breaker questions via email or Slack if you use Slack. And this gets people excited about participating, it explains how Know Your Company works, and so here you’re previewing, alright, this is where I’m going to be able to send the welcome message, here’s what it looks like. This is all about building confidence, right? Familiarity, trust, but then again, at people’s own pace. And they can skim this, too, right? They can go back, they can go back to the next one if it’s not interesting, they can cancel if they already feel like they know what’s going on.
Then we say, “Here are the next questions. The first one’s called the heartbeat.” We say it’s asked every Monday. This is why we ask it. It’s to break down [inaudible 00:17:59]. You get all the answers next Tuesday and, again, you get this nice preview, take you to the next question. On Wednesdays we ask you the company question. It’s all about helping you understand what people are actually thinking. We talk about the fact that you can actually share your answer publicly or privately. These are all details, by the way, in the previous onboarding flow that you saw, that just did not exist. Right? These nuances of, again, giving people really kind of holding their hand and trying to create trust of when you roll this out to your team, again, you’re not going to look stupid. You’re not gonna … It’s not gonna look lame. Here’s where you can change the question and customize it. We’re trying to instill that confidence.
And then the last question are social questions. Every Friday here’s the question we ask, here’s the purpose behind it. Again, emphasizing the methodology behind what we’re doing, not just saying, “Oh, this is the future,” right? This is just how it works. [inaudible 00:18:52] the philosophy for why we’re doing it. And then we say, “Okay, that’s how the questions work and when you’re ready, we’re gonna show you now how to actually add your employees. Okay? So ready to take a look? Let’s look at it.”
So then we say, “Here’s how you add your people” and you can add them one-by-one, you can add them through Google Import, right? And we even want people [inaudible 00:19:21] when you add people, no one’s gonna be messaged until you kick off your trial. It’s just this constant reinforcement of we’re not gonna make you look dumb, we’re not going … We’re gonna … easing the anxiety as much as possible as you are signing up.
Then we say, “Once you’ve added all your team members and customized your welcome message and reviewed the questions on the previous screen, you actually kick off your trial here.” And this is probably one of the most unconventional and probably most hotly debated decisions within our company that we had about where this called action goes. You’ll notice that we put it just actually in this small bar above the screen, which you don’t really see in a lot of onboarding flows but, so far, again, it’s actually … It’s worked. It’s worked. But the reason we did this is we wanted the focus, again, to be on creating the confidence and making people feel like they actually know what’s going on so they feel ready to do the kick-off.
So then after that, we say, “Hey, that’s it for now. We’ll share some best practices once you’re done and we’re excited for you to get started,” right? And so here, again, this is where people can come in and then now that they’ve gone through that tour, they can actually customize the welcome message themselves, which they weren’t able to do. They can customize the questions that are first going out. So all this does is it means that customers are seeing higher response rates in the software. It means that people are more likely to answer and be excited about these questions. And then it also means that when they are going to add their employees, that is actually gonna be more likely that they’re gonna add their entire team because they know what’s going on.
So what were the results of all of this? Well, we actually found that this cut out set-up time for most people more than half. So we saw that for the average company who signs up, they have about 20 employees and it takes them less than 40 minutes now to [inaudible 00:21:23] yeah. So more than half, right? Still a long time, I think, by a lot of other products’ standards of sign-up flows, right? You know most people are trying to get it under five minutes or even less than that but, again, we have a little bit of a different audience. The product works in a little bit of a different way but we found that now with this onboarding flow, it’s less than 40 minutes for set-up. We found, also, that we’ve increased our conversion rate as a result by 44%. So prior to this on the old onboarding flow, it was 17% conversion rate, and now we currently have a little bit over 25, which is actually really high. So, here. I’m gonna move over here. I’m gonna stop sharing and yeah. And, oh yeah.
And a few other results, too, is that it’s completely lowered our amount of support request around the onboarding flow. We saw usually a significant amount of support requests of “Hey, can I edit this question? Hey, I don’t understand when this question is going to go out.” But you see now in the tour that we pre-empt that and it’s, again, it’s counterintuitive. We reduced the amount of time that people are signing up by more than half and yet we probably have seven more steps involved, right?
Joanna Wiebe: Yes.
Claire Lew: It’s really counterintuitive, right? We had four before. Now it’s self-guided towards literally seven to ten different things that you have to click. And yet people are spending more time, converting more. It’s still yet to be seen how it’s affecting response rates. So we don’t have … I’m not confident in the data. We haven’t seen enough time passed to say confidently that, okay, this is … means that more people are seeing more successful first-months. I would … I’d like to wait about six months to be able to say that. But, yeah. It’s been a fascinating experiment and for us right now, we’ve seen it to have been the right call.
Joanna Wiebe: Interesting. [crosstalk 00:23:13] It’s so cool and I love that it’s still … Okay. So when you say it’s still 40 minutes and people are like, “Oh, it has to be faster,” but, hold on, you’re getting really good results and I love that you’re teaching your philosophy as you go to make them … because there’s such … We know even in copyrighting there’s this pressure to just … Oh, everybody [inaudible 00:23:34] just hurry them through things, just get them through. But then-
Claire Lew: Yeah.
Joanna Wiebe: They don’t know why they’re doing it, right? And you’re taking the time to help them understand, like that first screen that’s got the three things you believe about knowing your company.
Claire Lew: Right.
Joanna Wiebe: It’s just … Yeah, I love it. [crosstalk 00:23:50] And it’s working, which is amazing, too. So that was such a cool tutorial. I want you to talk about this [inaudible 00:23:56]. I need-
Claire Lew: Yeah?
Joanna Wiebe: You to talk about this. I’m gonna … Yeah. Anyway, we can talk on the side about that. But it’s so … Lots of places. It’s amazing. So there are questions. I won’t keep talking but one of the big questions that’s come out is just a question about what tool you are using to do your onboarding. Are you using … Is that custom or did you use something else?
Claire Lew: That’s a great question. So it is built by our CTO. His name is Daniel Lopez. He’s brilliant. He actually used to be the Direct of Product for “If This, Then That.” And so he would be the expert to talk to about that. I’m sure he can share more from a design perspective what his inspiration was and go a lot more nitty-gritty into the direction that he took. But it’s custom and it was done in [inaudible 00:24:43] and, obviously, [inaudible 00:24:45].
Joanna Wiebe: Okay, sweet. Yeah. [inaudible 00:24:48]
Claire Lew: Sorry that it’s not something that-
Joanna Wiebe: I know. Everyone’s like, “Ah.” [crosstalk 00:24:50]
Claire Lew: I know, yeah.
Joanna Wiebe: Okay, cool. So I’ll jump into some of these questions, then. “Brian Superstar” asked about customer avatars and you didn’t really see customer avatars. I don’t know if it’s … But I’ll read the question anyway.
Claire Lew: Yes.
Joanna Wiebe: How many customer avatars were you able to build from the two years of manual onboarding? Do you have any insights into avatars or personas or anything that you came up with in those … ’cause I think a lot of people were very interested in how much you would learn in all of that manual onboarding. The learning would be intense.
Claire Lew: So much. So I’m not a big fan of doing sort of, I don’t know why, doing really formal sort of customer personas and I … and it’s … I don’t know. This is maybe a … Yeah. This is probably a bad thing. But just because we had so many conversations, I feel like they’re [inaudible 00:25:43] ingrained and embedded in all the conversations that we’ve had. I think for most or kind of the different personas that we see is the business owner with 25 to 50 employees who’s feeling growing pains and they’re feeling like they’re losing touch and this is the way for them to get back in touch. The second persona is someone who’s in a VP or COO level, right? And they’re similar. Maybe they notice growing pains, notice that someone’s left, they’re seeing that a lot of people are getting hired, they feel like they’re out of touch, and they don’t yet have the buy-in of their CEO, but they’re kind of ahead of the crowd and they’re seeing these problems and they want to get ahead of it.
And then the last typical persona, or sorry, there’s two more. The third persona is a middle-level manager, right? In a bigger company. So maybe it’s 100-person company, 200-person company, and they are the Director of Marketing or they’re the head of HR and … or they’re the head of engineering and they want to use Know Your Company maybe just for their team or their 20, 25-person team and to get a better sense of is everyone on the same page? Are we communicating well?
And then the last persona, which is actually almost the hardest for us to sell to is employees, right? So folks who do not have any direct reports. They themselves, though, have either used Know Your Company at a previous company or they have friends who used it and they’re just feeling like they need an outlet, right? They want to figure out how do I get my whole company or how do I get my team using Know Your Company? And that’s the persona that’s most challenging for us because like I mentioned, the product … it works best when it’s sort of being driven by the top. If you can imagine, right? You can’t ask questions like, “Are you afraid of anything at the company?” Right? And expect to get honest responses from that if it’s not … if the CEO … if she or he is not actually genuine without asking those questions. It just doesn’t work and so it doesn’t mean it’s not impossible, right? To sort of create that culture shift. But that’s the persona for us that’s hardest to incorporate or figure out how we cater to that in our onboarding flow.
However, one thing that we did do is you’ll notice in the new flow is that we’ve made it a lot more easier for you to just sort of add a few people and then come back, right? Again, in the previous flow, it was much more sort of separate, rigid steps. Well, with the self-guided tour, it’s like you could add people and nothing’s gonna get kicked off, right? You don’t even have to choose a date. You don’t have to worry about that. So you could just theoretically as a employee just test it out with a few folks, show your manager, and maybe your manager then pushes it forward, which has happened quite a bit.
Joanna Wiebe: Interesting. Awesome. Okay. I know we’ve only got you for two more minutes.
Claire Lew: Ah, yeah.
Joanna Wiebe: So I will ask one question and then we’ll figure out how people can ask you more questions and find out more about everything you’re doing.
Claire Lew: Yes.
Joanna Wiebe: I’ve just randomly picked this one. Chris asked, “We currently have a set-up process that includes having an employee called a new customer and going through our new customer questionnaire. Would you replace a phone call with a self-directed enrollment or set-up?” Should he keep using that phone call?
Claire Lew: That’s a good question. This is maybe not the most helpful response. It depends, right? It depends. So I really love the in-person, getting to know you conversation, right? Because you get the qualitative stories that you don’t get to … that are really hard to pick up [inaudible 00:29:20]. At scale, though, right? It’s very difficult. So if you feel like you’re not getting the quantity and the return back, in terms of those phone calls, try the forum, right? Try the forum and see what different information that comes out. Or you could do both, right? And see who responds to the phone calls and then follow-up with the forum if they don’t respond. I think the most important thing is to be getting some sort of information up-front to get to understand who that prospective customer is. It’s been … I mean, again, we spent literally two years doing that manually because we found that so important.
Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, okay. Claire, brilliant. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to share this, replay it with people, too. Where can they find out more about you and Know Your Company?
Claire Lew: Absolutely. So, yeah. Absolutely. So if you have any additional questions, please email me at Claire@KnowYourCompany.com. You can find me on Twitter as well at CJLew23. I write on Medium all the time about, obviously, building a positive company culture but also behind-the-scenes look at our products. So check out our blog. Yeah. If you’re interests in our product, we’d love to have you take a look. You can check us out at KnowYourCompany.com. And then lastly, something Joanna alluded to is we recently launched a new online leadership community for managers and business owners and executives who are looking to find alike [inaudible 00:30:40] community of leaders and it’s called The Water Cooler. And so you can definitely check that out as well.
Joanna Wiebe: Amazing, Claire. Thank you so much. Thanks everybody for coming here today and asking your great questions and we will see you on the next Tutorial Tuesday. Have a great one, guys.
Claire Lew: Alright, bye. Thank you.