SendGrid launched our Customer Insights Community, SendGrid Insiders, in the fall of 2017 in an effort to streamline our customer research and feedback process. Today, the community is a pool of more than 3,000 customers who regularly contribute to our different product, UI/UX, labs, and marketing research efforts.
Over the past year, this community has collectively raised their hands over 1,500 times for research opportunities (including screeners, product interviews, beta testing, and surveys) and have been involved in over 50 different projects.
Most importantly, the creation of SendGrid Insiders offered customers a more cohesive 1:1 experience where they could interact with our teams and receive additional intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Specifically, SendGrid Insiders provides customers with:
- A direct line of communication with our team – Not only do Insiders have the opportunity to share their feedback through research and 1 on 1 interviews, our team actively engages with Insiders on a regular basis. All SendGrid employees are encouraged to join the Insider program and chat with customers through the discussion board or through private messages. We want Insiders to know that we are easily accessible to them and eager to hear their thoughts.
- Exclusive access to learning and development opportunities – Apart from our publicly-available blog posts and best practices, we also offer Insiders additional learning and development opportunities. Two recent examples of this include early access to SendGrid Academy and deliverability consultation with our Expert Services team (which is offered to Insiders as a reward for participation). By offering these opportunities to Insiders we are encouraging Insiders to invest in their own knowledge, expertise, and skills while fostering a community of true experts.
- Early access to new product features we release – Insiders are the first customers we turn to when looking for beta users and feedback on new features or products. By offering these limited-availability features and products to Insiders, they are reassured that we value their engagement and feedback and it helps to create an exclusive opportunity for these engaged customers.
Why SendGrid Insiders?
At SendGrid, we believe that to best serve our customers, we need to understand who they are: what motivates them, common daily frustrations, and how they are experiencing our product compared to competitors’ products.
To do this, we complete about 400 customer interviews and more than 25 quantitative surveys (accounting for more than 2500 responses) every year through our problem discovery and solution validation process. This helps us identify which products and features to prioritize and build for our customers.
While we are proud of how frequently we interact with our customers we are always trying to do more. That’s why in the spring of 2017 we set out to find additional opportunities to improve the experience and feedback we get. Specifically, we identified two areas that we wanted to tackle:
- How might we mobilize all (or at least a larger percentage) of our 78,000+ customers to feel empowered to contribute to our research efforts?
- How might we streamline the communication process so customers could choose when and how often they interact with our research teams?
We evaluated several different solutions to solve the above problems but quickly agreed that the biggest opportunity to streamline and optimize research within our customer base lied in the creation a community of engaged customers, a Customer Insights Community.
Creating a Customer Research Community
In the beginning, we set out to create a community where customers could engage with our teams and other industry experts and continue to develop their knowledge around email and customer communications. We wanted to include features like discussion boards, quizzes, social media interactions, fun activities, and a gamified process throughout the experience. In that effort, our team chose to partner with Influitive, a customer advocacy software provider that helps companies engage, nurture, and grow their relationships with their most dedicated customers.
A cross-functional team spent several months integrating the software with our internal resources, building out the overall strategy for the community, and creating activities for the customers who joined. In the fall of 2017, we launched the program and invited our first customers.
Where are we now?
Just over 1 year after our full launch, SendGrid Insiders is an important resource that is impactful both to SendGrid and our customers. Stacy Boswoski, Director of Marketing and Social Media at Burtch Works shared the value of the program in this quote:
“The SendGrid Insiders program has been instrumental in keeping me up-to-date on new features in SendGrid, email marketing best practices, and other tools that SendGrid offers that I might not be taking advantage of yet. SendGrid offers a lot of resources in terms of documentation and transparency, and the Insiders platform is a great way to receive this information in an easily-digestible format! It’s also a great way to keep my knowledge current while offering my thoughts and feedback on updates and changes.”
While the SendGrid Insiders community has improved how we recruit and engage with customers, we continue to iterate and improve to create a better customer experience. We would love to host even more of our research efforts within the community and are always looking to connect more customers with our teams.