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Even when you’ve got a great product, customer feedback can make it even better. Nick Hill, Founder of SureFlap explains how customer feedback is helping the company update its microchip pet products to meet the needs of thousands of cats and dogs and their owners around the world.

Why is customer feedback so important to your business?

My background is in technology development and I still head up the engineering team at SureFlap. For me, the most important thing is creating products that match the needs of our customers and their pets. All pets are different, so hearing from our customers about what works and what doesn’t is really valuable.

We send out surveys to all our customers using Service Cloud, and capture their comments and feedback, which we then analyse to identify recurring themes. For example, we spotted that lots of people were putting the batteries in the wrong way round, so we made our instructions clearer.

How does customer feedback help drive future innovations?

We log every customer’s request for a new product or product enhancement, and when it reaches a tipping point, we get our engineers involved. For example in autumn 2014, we launched a new pet feeder. Eventually we see our products becoming part of the Internet of Things, enabling owners to improve the wellbeing of their pets especially if they are away from home during the day.

How did you market the new pet feeder?

We only had a limited number of units available at first, so we set up an online form for customers to express their interest. We then sent out staggered emails before the release date.

The initial email resulted in a 50% open rate and 1-2% purchase rate. We then modified the email and sent it to a different group of people and got a 65% open rate and 30% purchase rate! Learning more about our customers, their situation, and how they react to our marketing campaigns is a great enabler for the business. As well as improving sales, it helps us deliver the best possible customer service

Tell us more about your approach to customer service?

We knew from the start that a strong product alone wasn’t enough - that we’d have to offer great customer service as well to be successful. We know from our follow-up surveys that potential customers read reviews avidly, so we need to ensure we have glowing reviews about not just our products but also our customer service.

If a satisfaction survey comes back with a score lower than 9 out of 10, we follow up with the customer to check what the issue was. This approach is working really well - our Net Promoter Score three months after a customer purchase is 87, and after contact with the customer service team, it hits 92. We can offer the type of service you would expect from a large enterprise, with just 11 people.

As your team grows, how will you ensure a consistent approach to customer service?

Keeping the communication lines open and ensuring everyone feels part of the team is really important. We have staff as far afield as New Zealand, Belgium, and the Netherlands. We try to involve everyone in every area of the business and Chatter comes in really handy. We have 18 different groups that keep marketing, engineering, sales, and service people talking to each other. Of course it’s also used to share the occasional funny cat video on a Friday!

Customer engagement increasingly needs to be a two-way process, especially as feedback – negative and positive – can now be shared on social media and advocacy sites so easily and quickly. To find out more about how SureFlap stays close to its customers, read the full success story.