How A Startup Uses Innovation Technology (Part 3)

How A Startup Uses Innovation Technology (Part 3)

Kindling was born to address a need — a growing group of designers and technologists were finding it difficult to keep track of ideas and the discussions around these ideas. We were trying to address the problems that were emerging as we scaled the business . We didn’t have a way to centralize ideas, to manage the feedback from our customers, to communicate with our remote employees, or a non “gut” way of determining what development items should take priority over others. Email was failing us.

Kindling owes its success not just to selling our software, but also to using it. This post is an introspective on how we at Kindling use our own product (or dogfooding, in context of software). From Product Management to Development to Sales & Marketing, we all find benefits from being connected to the centre of our business — ideas.

Part 3: Customer Services
Part 1 of this series was an interview with our CEO and Product Lead on how he and the Kindling Product Team use Kindling to shape the product roadmap, and Part 2 was an interview with our Strategic Account Executive on how our Sales Team uses Kindling to add a market perspective to product discussions. Part 3 is an interview with our Director of Customer Services, on how the Customer Services Team uses Kindling to better address our customers’ needs.

Of all the teams at Kindling, the Customer Services Team is the closest to our customers. Services has an intimate knowledge about how our customers are using the product and therefore which feature enhancements they would like to see on the roadmap. Kindling is an essential tool for the Services Team, as we are constantly relaying information from customers to the rest of the company. We’ve also invited a few of our customers into our company Kindling account, so we can receive feedback and engage with them about their experiences directly.

Q: How often do you use Kindling? Twice a week? Once a day? Once an hour?
A: I use Kindling every couple of days. I like to check back on my ideas every so often, and everyone likes to hear about successes with our customers so sometimes I put in Posts to keep the whole team informed. I often check Kindling at the end of the week for updates on what everyone discussed. Sometimes when I’m super-busy I forget to check Kindling for a few days, but then the notification emails remind me: “Oh yeah – that thing I wanted to discuss.”

For some tips on innovating kindling

Q: What is the primary way your team uses Kindling?
A: We use Kindling for sharing feedback from customers and trying to get their feedback turned into product enhancements. We also use Kindling for examples and screenshots to use in Academy, our documentation for customers, and for feedback from within Kindling about how to make that documentation better. It gets a little meta — using Kindling to crowdsource ideas about Kindling.

Q: Discuss any proud wins you’ve had from using Kindling.
A: Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen a lot of Ideas in Kindling turn into shipped features. It’s really great when that happens! One example is some upcoming work that we’ll be doing on giving our customers more tools to help evaluate ideas. I’m sworn to secrecy on the specifics but it will be AWESOME. I can’t wait for those ideas to get into the product! It’s really exciting to influence not only a single feature, but the entire focus of a particular Kindling release.

Q: What have you learned from other teams in the company from using Kindling?
A: I’ve definitely gotten an idea of what’s coming in releases, and how people on the Development and the Design Team feel about certain features. In Kindling, you can get a feel for how people feel about the ideas proposed. People will respond emotionally, because each one of these features is their creation or they have a hand in creating it so they feel personally invested. You get that emotional connection in Kindling. It’s very interesting to see that.

We also learn from strategic customers who we’ve invited to participate in our own Kindling. They interact with us directly and share how they are using the product and their feedback. We’ve learned a lot from them about what we can do better.

Q: How has Kindling helped you feel connected to the company as a whole?
A: We post a weekly update in Kindling of what everyone’s working on and what’s been accomplished. It definitely makes me feel more connected to what’s happening on the other Kindling teams. Sometimes I see the Kindling update Post before I have a chance to chat with a colleague about a particular feature or before I have a kick-off call with a customer. That helps me better prepare for those encounters. Often the update Post is my preview window into the week ahead, what new customers I’ll be working towards a launch with or what updates are coming in Kindling.

We also post announcements about new customers or customers’ accomplishments, which are great to read. I’ll sometimes post about my experience with customers and the positive feedback I’ve gotten. I work remotely, so if I didn’t post in Kindling, I might not have the opportunity to share these experiences and the sense of pride I feel when I hear them.

Q: Any final thoughts?
A: I really like that we use Kindling internally and it’s very valuable to the Customer Services Team because, in a way, we’re our own customers, and that gives us more empathy for our actual customers. It helps us understand what they need, what’s missing, what could be better. That empathy in customer service and customer support is really important.