The deck we used to raise money for Sturdy

Joel Passen
March 9, 2021
8 Min Read

The idea for Sturdy was born from asking this all too common question far too many times, “What is going on with Customer X?” And many times over the years we have griped, “How is it the 21st Century and we need to get 5 different people in a room to login to 5 different apps in order to know whether a customer is happy or not?”

This is why every SaaS company has a “Top Customer List”. At Newton, our previous company that was acquired by Paycor in late 2015, we had a rule, “Whenever someone on this list contacts us for any reason, let So-and-So know.” If you think about it, such lists admit a fundamental failure of running a modern only have the time and resources to listen to your most valuable customers (which means you most often ignore the rest).

This was our first slide...

Our earliest decks talked about, “getting your data in one spot”. But that wasn’t the problem we were trying to solve (wanting to see all the data in one spot is a symptom, not a solution). The problem wasn’t really a communication problem, it was a mining and refining problem. When a customer requests a copy of her contract, that message must get forwarded to the Saves Team - immediately.

Our “Aha” moment was when we realized that our customers are telling us what they want and need everyday. They give us information to run our businesses better, to predict churn, to capture references, to get in front of renewals, to prioritize features, yet this data is trapped and decaying in dozens, if not hundreds of data silos.

A big problem is that our customers are giving us this information in Slack, Email, Salesforce, Webinars, Training Sessions, Zoom calls, etc.. And the only way we utilize this information is if someone manually identifies, records and escalates it.

Remember when we said it was the 21st century? We still manually identify, capture and route feature requests. And bug reports. And cancellation requests. And sometimes this means that we don’t always see the signal, or we forget to log it, or when we route it, no one pays attention.

But these signals are immensely valuable. For example, reducing churn from 10% to 9% in a $10 million ARR business means that every customer is worth $17k more in lifetime value (500 customers, $20k annual contract value). And reducing churn in this example is just saving 5 customers. 

Obviously we should do everything possible to mine our customer communications, and yet many companies know more about their anonymous website visitors than their own paying customers.  Almost every company has a way to track and monitor its website visitors, and almost zero have any way to monitor and monetize the happiness of their actual customers.

Here’s a challenge...Answer this: If your company was about to lose a customer, who would be the best person to save that customer? What metrics would you use to support your answer? Most companies have no data to answer this question.

Or, how many times did a customer say, “You guys are great!” last month? How many times were those happy customers converted to references? And how many of those references are delivered to your sales team to help them close new business?

Again, it's the 21st century. Yet we have no analytic capacity or automation as it relates to customer feedback or happiness. But don’t despair. You're not alone.

We realize the challenges are great. But in this area, failure is truly unacceptable. To have a truly operationalized customer focused company, you need to mine these communications, without bias and without manual data entry. You need something that never gets tired, that doesn’t need training, and that gets better the more you grow and the more you throw at it. And most importantly, you can’t wait until the quarterly business review is complete to triage a churning customer.

And that’s why we started an AI company. But not just any AI company and not just for the sake of using AI.

We aren’t here to reinvent and change the way teams or companies work. And that is what is so exciting about what we do. Sturdy is the force multiplier for your business. If you already have a cutting edge BI tool, we just give it better data. If you have a killer CX app, we make it more insightful. If you have a great Customer Success, Account Management, Operations, Marketing, and Product teams, we make them more efficient and provide them with better data.

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