"Learn everything there is to learn, and then automate” with Nick Francis from Help Scout

Nick Francis is a co-founder and CEO of Help Scout, help desk software for support teams that insist on a great customer experience.

What’s interesting about Nick is that he understands the tremendous impact of single digit percentage improvements in churn and conversion. He’s done a terrific interview on reducing churn by 1.5% and increasing MRR by $20,000. He’s also done one on improving trial to conversion from 8% to 11%, and increasing revenue by $300,000 as a result.

In both interviews, he emphasizes getting these results by focusing on learning. In this interview, I dig deeper into learning and how it enables you to have your (learning) cake and eat it (scale) too.

"Learn everything there is to learn, and then automate” with Nick Francis

Help Scout is a dog food product.

Meaning, we use it ourselves everyday. We empathize with our customers. That’s the reason we never had any big pivots.

We were bulding what we needed, so we didn’t go in with a whole lot of assumptions.

That is to say: I knew our use case pretty well. But I didn’t assume I understood customers’ pain points, as well as specifics like how many replies they have to make to be activated.

So for 8 months, we required people to sign up with a phone number.

The point wasn’t to sell.

At first, you don’t really know the activation points.

We had a hypothesis of the steps —

But the only way to verify this is to get qualitative data by talking to customers.

So we spent several months calling them up. What business were they in? What does their customer support process look like? Daily email volume? How many people do they have doing customer service?

Before we added any automation whatsoever… We talked to them to understand them and their different use cases. We checked on them throughout the onboarding process.

That’s how we managed to completely automate the onboarding process now. We don't call customers, nor ask for their phone number, anymore.

A lot of people try to "reverse engineer" this.

They don’t want to go through the laborious process of talking to customers.

Why? Too many times it's because they’re trying to do things, not to learn, but to scale.

You need to build things to maximize learning first, scale second.

I think this is important for startups. Building anything to scale means you miss all the learning, which is critical in an early startup. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn by automating.

Learn everything there is to learn, and then automate.

What is Concierge Onboarding? Read about All Aboard!

Photo credit: @NickFrancis