How SupportBee Switched from Using Intuition to Data
SupportBee is an end-to-end help-desk support and email ticketing system for companies and their clients. Their customer-support software is designed for the purpose of simplifying collaborative work environments. They offer customers a variety of products, including a shared inbox for compartmentalizing workflows; client-facing knowledge base software; and a portal for tracking tickets via web interface. Customers love using SupportBee products because they’re easy to use and set up. Also, SupportBee allows businesses to maintain their personal brand and voice in customer-facing interactions. SupportBee’s team tracks these key performance indicators:
• Number of new trial signups
• Conversions from trial subscribers to paying customers
• Conversion indicators: including trial-period extensions
• Customer churn
Hana Mohan is the CEO at SupportBee. A few years ago she wrote that when SupportBee launched in 2011, they were a bootstrapped company “in a crowded space full of deeply funded startups.” They eventually became profitable, but scaling was a big challenge for the small, distributed team. So brainstorming ideas and identifying solutions had always been a company-wide effort. Whether someone worked on engineering, marketing or product design, all were (and still are) encouraged to weigh-in on new ideas, product functionality, upgrades, and making decisions about design and user growth.
Before implementing Mixpanel, SupportBee relied heavily on intuition and customer feedback to drive decisions regarding everything from product development to problem solving. When the team did look for data, they had to seek it out and organize it from their database. It was a time-intensive exercise that slowed progress and got in the way of other important tasks. “At the time, no one could do that much,” said Mohan. “And we certainly didn’t want to make it a part of our day-to-day process.”
"When we first started using Mixpanel, there weren't many products at the same lever or value. And we haven't felt any need to find something new or different." - Hana Mohan, CEO
The team at SupportBee asked friends and colleagues at other product startups how they deal with similar challenges. They were advised to try Mixpanel. “Those companies had all been very happy with that choice, and for us, the startup plan for using Mixpanel was extraordinarily generous. It definitely played a role in helping us get established” said Mohan. “Also, the implementation was easy and the Ruby library was a great resource.”
Now the marketing team is working on improving trial conversions using Mixpanel tools. “We’re ramping up a push to increase activity at the top of the funnel,” said Mohan. “We rely on Mixpanel to identify bottlenecks, such as those in the trial-to-paid-conversion funnel.” Also, they’re building a more robust process for tracking usage data whenever someone on the team works on new features and product improvements.
Today, everyone at SupportBee uses Mixpanel. “It helps all of us do our jobs better, across all the different departments,” said Mohan. Customer support uses it to understand clients’ needs and behaviors. Also, Mixpanel highlights usage patterns that the design team uses to develop new products and upgrade existing ones. Marketing uses Mixpanel to pinpoint the most important features for new and existing customers. “Because we’re a very small team in an extremely competitive space, it’s crucial for us to focus our efforts on the most impactful problems,” said Mohan.
“We’ve found that relying on intuition — or even past experience — for problem-solving issues is not a smart way to scale. Since implementing Mixpanel, we’ve been able to use data and insights to reliably and accurately identify high impact product problems and find solutions faster.” - Hana Mohan, CEO
After SupportBee implemented Mixpanel, they were surprised by the relative usage of different features. They expected that certain features would be used more while other features would be used less often. “We imagined, for example, a lot of our customers would set up multiple mailboxes, but the number is much smaller than we predicted,” said Mohan.
Using Mixpanel has been a great asset for the SupportBee team, but also for customers who rely on the company for their own success. “It helps us focus on features that are important to the majority of our customers,” said Mohan. “It’s easy to get carried away by the loudest or biggest customers, but having access to our usage numbers keeps that in check.”
Like most ambitious companies, SupportBee relies on hitting KPIs for growth. Some of the Mixpanel tools they use for validating important decisions are those that help manage data and identify key user behaviors and their workflows when using SupportBee products. “Explore helps us figure out usage patterns and dig deeper into customer segments and other metrics,” said Mohan. And the Geckoboard widget helps team members focus and triage tasks thanks to quick access to SupportBee’s dashboard, which features important data and tracking goal progress.
There will be new customer support companies in the future and some of them will be more funded than us. However, I believe that it’s our understanding of the domain and our ability to execute on that understanding that will continue to help us craft great software and attract customers. - Hana Mohan, CEO