Justworks customer board.

The Importance of Customer Voice at a High-Growth Company

Posted December 8, 2016 by Camilla Velasquez in Justworks Love
Justworks’ VP of Product Camilla Velasquez outlines how our customer board brings the customer voice to the forefront.

Building Justworks from the ground up is a challenging and exciting task. But we’ve entered an industry that was already quite established — so we had to catch up quickly.

As Justworks begins to scale and serve many more customers, it’s critical we focus primarily on the features that matter most. To surface those features, we channel the voice of our customers. Most recently, we created a program around this to validate our prioritization with a cross section of our customers — a customer board to connect with regularly.

Each quarter, we take feedback from our customers and balance it with needs from the federal, state, and local governments; third parties like Aetna and Metlife; and our own company needs to prioritize our roadmap.

Getting direct customer feedback in a B2B business is always hard. Instead, we compile feedback from various voice of customer channels. While each channel is vital to a diverse feedback mix, they also have shortfalls:

  • Net-Promoter-Score (NPS) - This is a survey in our application with a text box to enter more information. NPS scores are great for qualitative feedback, but doesn’t appear all the time, and customers experience our product in more ways than just the application.
  • Account Managers - Our account managers are the most most reliable sources of feedback. However, it’s the loudest customers that get the most attention here — “squeaky wheel gets the grease” — and we want to be sure to hear from all of our customers.
  • Customer Visits - Our product team has four customer visits scheduled each month to watch them use our software and hear their pain points, which is a great way to get feedback from a cross section of customers. The feedback here is mostly one way and we rarely have the opportunity to present new ideas to them — we simply observe existing workflows.
  • Betas and User Research - Research on new features as they’re coming together is valuable for the product development process. These interactions are very focused and don’t give customers future, long-term view of Justworks.

In order to bring our feedback full circle, we created the Justworks Customer Board, a cross-section of different industries and company sizes from whom we can rely on for feedback to help inform the future of Justworks. The board will convene in person twice per year, with frequent email and follow up communication.

Why a Customer Board?

I had always felt that roles like the “Public Editor” at the New York Times were interesting, in that there’s someone internally who is the voice of the public, advocating for customers when the business can become too self-focused. Our customer board, while not internal to Justworks, works in this fashion.

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The board opens up a voice to steer us in the right direction, and right the ship when we’re headed off course. The relationship works when it’s open, honest, two-way, and transparent between the Justworks team and our customers.

Picking the Board

We decided seven customers was an ideal size, in order to facilitate a engaged discussion and allow for a cross section of industries and company sizes.

We focused on diversifying the customers attending — some who have been on the platform for some time (like Casper and Trello) — and newer customers, ones with different workforce makeups and benefits needs, to ensure we were gathering different perspectives.

The Justworks Customer Board includes:

  • Casper
  • Trello
  • CASE Agency
  • Maple
  • Uncubed
  • Museum Hack
  • Vaudeville Ventures

Depending on the company, we invited the Founder, CEO, CFO or Head of HR from these companies and asked them to bring one of their colleagues. As I mentioned, two-way dialogue is key — we wanted to make sure our board could commit to two meetings a year and to providing us with constructive feedback and insight into how they manage their teams.

So, How Did it Go?

Blog - Image - Customer board cards

The setup for our customer board welcome.

It was a success! We held the meeting on our offices in Chelsea, New York. It gave our customers an opportunity to network and build foundations in their business community.

It also gave business owners the opportunity to discuss pain points within and outside of the Justworks platform. We are excited to help facilitate and nurture these new connections with our board.

The agenda was as follows:

  • Drinks, Snacks, and Networking
  • Introductions
  • Customer Board
  • Our Story
  • Customer Success Overview
  • Product Process and Roadmap
  • Questions and Discussion

For our first board meeting, our goal was to meet and better understand each other’s companies. Isaac Oates, our CEO and Founder, shared the Justworks story and some of the ups and downs over the past two years, being transparent about what’s been working and how far we’ve come.

Jason Whitman, our VP of Customer Success, then shared his team’s journey and where we’re headed in terms of servicing. The account management and onboarding teams were fully established in the last year, so we were eager to get feedback on how it’s been going for our customers.

Lastly, I shared themes and ideas from our product roadmap going into 2017, and opened the stage for a conversation. I was clear about the sorts of tradeoffs as a product and engineering team we have, so they could understand why some projects are prioritized higher than others. Things like internal tools or security are often invisible to customers, but they’re crucial for scaling and efficiency, and customers do ultimately reap the benefits of this type of work.

The roadmap is split into benefits, payments, HR tools, and onboarding to align with our product teams. We paused to get feedback on these areas and listen to their pain points. We also asked what else customers want to see from Justworks over time, regardless of product area — a true green field, wish list. Where could Justworks grow strategically to help our customers more in managing their back office or taking care of their teams? No idea was too big.

What We Learned

Overall, we felt very positive about the meeting, and also have some clear ways to improve it in the future. Some key takeaways included:

  • Keep a Constructive and Open Tone - It’s important to keep the presentation and meeting comfortable and casual, so people can jump in with thoughts as they come to mind.
  • Foster a Great Environment for Networking - The dedicated time for conversations, not to mention drinks before and after, allowed for some great networking among members.
  • Remind Customers to Bring Team Feedback - Customers brought some great feedback from their accountants and operations teams, but not a lot from their employees directly. We always want to improve the product experience for admins as well as their employees, so will encourage board members to collect feedback from their teams beforehand beforehand. We had also asked customers some prep questions right before the event. We will likely send these earlier on, so they have time to gather feedback before the meeting.
  • Cultivate a List of Eecommended Partners and Benefits - We heard loud and clear that customers are looking for more trusted operational tools to complement Justworks, like expense reports, and time and attendance tracking. Pooling together a recommended resource list and set of partners will be key to our product strategy. Similarly, we heard the need for more perks and offers on the platform to better take care of teams and stay competitive, so we look forward to building that out as well.
  • Invest in Dedicated Account Managers - Regardless of the product, we validated how crucial the 1-to-1 servicing relationship is, especially given the complexities and sensitivities of this industry. We know this team is delivering top-notch customer service daily and it was nice to receive validation.

Overall, the Justworks Customer Board is an exciting and crucial addition to our voice of customer program here at Justworks. We thank our board members and look forward to continuing an engaging conversation to ensure we deliver the best product and services to help members and their teams be more productive and stay healthy.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.