Posted by .

At Perfect Audience, we’re fascinated by the evolutions young companies undergo as they find their footing. So, we’d thought we’d talk to several to hear their stories on the theme of customers: getting your first ones, finding new ones, and using their feedback to move your product forward. Think you’ve got a great story to tell? E-mail me at kiyoshi@perfectaudience.com!

“We actually have a negative churn rate,” Vidyard CEO Michael Litt said when he talked about the company’s customer support team.

Vidyard, which provides hosting and real-time analytics for enterprise video marketing, announced recently they hit the milestone of 1 million video views per day.

How’d they do it?

“There’s not a whole lot of magic here, to be honest with you,” Litt said.

It’s a combination of several factors, but shifting company priorities to emphasize customer service made the biggest impact, according to Litt. He said while Vidyard gradually grew their customer base over the last year and each customer themselves was also working to drive more traffic to their own sites, generating more views, it wasn’t until they installed a dedicated customer success team to talk to users every day that growth took off and churn dropped off.

Vidyard completed YCombinator as part of their summer 2011 batch and announced a $1.7m seed round of funding in November 2011, with contributions YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, SoftTech VC, Andreessen Horowitz, iNovia Capital and others.

In October 2011, Vidyard was doing 1,000 video views per day. This number was growing, but not quickly enough for the Vidyard team. So, that month they added a customer success manager to their team whose mission was to purely talk with new and potential customers.

Six months later in April 2012, videos on Vidyard’s platform were averaging 25,000 to 30,000 views per week (roughly 4k/day), and the customer success team expanded with a second member.

These full-time hires — brought on for their ability to be organized and making people laugh — work with new customers via email and phone calls to move them from sign-up to getting their first video embedded — and anything else along the way. The Vidyard team goes beyond just email and makes it a point to call their customers.

“People are generally happy and surprised when you call them,” Litt said.

The team looks closely at how each individual customer uses their product’s features, tracking their progress and intervening to help them complete tasks.

“We communicate with them based on whether or not they made it to 50, 70, 80, 90 percent [completion],” Litt said. “We help them on how to complete that task and train them how to do it in the future.”

Litt said this method of constantly communicating has the added side benefits of the customer asking more questions about the platform and feeling better informed, giving the customer the feeling that Vidyard has their back for any questions that come up.

They found one common obstacle customers had in the Vidyard product lifecycle was getting the video embedded on a webpage, which they addressed by making the embed code publicly sharable with an internal developer.

“The beauty of our product is that when a company embeds the video on their homepage it then becomes a core piece of that company’s messaging,” Litt said. “For them to remove it or change products is a big issue, because it’s sticky. It’s a process to just get it there in the first place.”

This fact makes it less likely for customers to churn. Once a video is embedded, the customer is “in” so to speak. So Vidyard’s customer success team works hard to get new customers to that point and just get up the first video.

How does this lead to a negative churn rate?

Currently, the number of Vidyard customers who upgrade their plans outpaces the number of those who cancel their accounts, Litt said, correlating with a negative churn rate. Locking in customers and urging them to grow and scale so they upgrade their service has helped Vidyard offset any customers who may drop off along the way.

Vidyard’s focus on dropping their churn rate — from an initially impressive 2% to 0.6% to now -1% — comes from a realization that as their monthly revenue grows, keeping the same percentage of churn means you’ll just lose larger and larger sums of revenue as you grow from tens of thousands of dollars a month to millions of dollars in revenue a month.

Making customer support a priority at Vidyard, who now dedicates an entire floor of their house-turned-office to it, has become an integral part of what they do. In just three months after the new hires for the customer support team came on board, Litt said that was when he had the reaction of, “Wow, this person is kicking ass.”

“Customer support is the forgotten marketing technique,” Litt said. “If you make people happy, they will tell a friend, and word of mouth is the cheapest form of customer acquisition by far in the world.”

The next goal for Vidyard is to hit the 1 million video views an hour, Litt said. “I can’t comment on when that will happen, but we’re on the same trajectory.”

Visit Vidyard:

++++

Do you have a fascinating story to tell about how you acquired your first customers or radically changed how you reach new customers now? Or maybe you had an epiphany from customer feedback that pushed your product in an exciting direction? We want to hear about it and tell others! E-mail me at kiyoshi@perfectaudience.com.



Comments are closed.