Almost a year ago, my friend Kelly Hungerford contacted me about working with Paper.li to help the company build structures to help it more efficiently connect with its users and create value for them. Paper.li has a pretty devoted userbase, and a big reason why is because of the personalized customer service (or ‘customer care’ that Kelly calls it) that Paper.li has given its users.
But Paper.li’s team is like many growing companies in that team members are often required to wear many hats. Which presented a challenge for Paper.li: How do you scale having individual relationships with users when the userbase expands from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand users?
So we started out by asking and answering those two questions that I mentioned in the last episode of #FanDamnShow:
1 – What does Paper.li get from this?
2 – What will Paper.li’s users get from this?
We came up with some very specific goals that we were shooting for on each end that I don’t want to get into here. The bottom line is that Paper.li wanted to create programs and structures that help it better connect with its users, and give those users more value and more input into its marketing, product design, and feedback, moving forward.
Many of Paper.li’s planned projects are still in development, but you’ve already seen one, the #Bizheroes chat on Twitter. This chat is run primarily by Kelly and Magda. The topics are chosen based on a simple question: “What business and life skills would be beneficial to Paper.li’s users?” Paper.li brings in experts each week to discuss and teach about a particular skill. Kelly, who transitioned from Paper.li to start her own consulting business late last year, is working with Paper.li in an advisory role now with the chat. It’s a wonderful chat that happens each Tuesday at 1pm Central, in fact the participation numbers are often at or better than #Blogchat’s levels!
Another initiative that Paper.li has just rolled out is called Backstage at Paper.li. Paper.li believes as I do that your passionate customers hold incredible value for your company as a feedback channel. From our first discussions, we explored the idea of creating a way to let Paper.li users not only give us feedback on existing features, but also input and opinions on possible future features, products and marketing.
To that end, Belinda Sadouk, Paper.li’s new Marketing and Communications Manager, is spearheading the launch of Backstage at Paper.li. This is a new place that will not only give those who signup an advance ‘sneak peek’ at new features and products from Paper.li, it will also be a feedback channel to better incorporate the ideas, opinions and expertise of Paper.li’s users into future offerings. The idea is to create a place where Paper.li can connect with its users in a deeper way, allowing them to be able to get early access to new products, features and initiatives, so that their feedback can be applied throughout the development process. This will not only improve the quality of the ideas and products that go through Backstage, but the users will become more invested in helping those ideas be successful, since they had more input in their direction.
Paper.li CEO Edouard Lambelet talks about this on Paper.li’s blog this week, but the Paper.li platform has allowed the company to collect massive amount of data, especially around content. What type of content resonates with users, for example, and this is user-generated data. So part of the goal of Backstage is to take this data and give it back to the users so it can benefit them as well. By combining the intelligence created by Paper.li’s data along with input and feedback from users, Paper.li hopes to create products that make a more positive difference in the lives of its users.
If you are a Paper.li user (or just curious!) please signup here to join Backstage at Paper.li. I will say this: Within the next few weeks members will be given an advance look at a new app that Paper.li will be rolling out that many of you reading this blog will want. You can find out more information on Paper.li’s blog.
One Final Takeaway
Your most passionate customers, call them fans, advocates or ambassadors, are more than simply ‘volunteer salespeople’. Yes, fans create cash, but your fans are also a treasure trove of valuable feedback and insights into how to improve your business processes. It pays to reach out to your most passionate customers and invest in creating stronger connections with them that drive real business growth. I’m looking forward to seeing what Paper.li has in store for creating deeper connections with its users.
Kelly Hungerford says
Thanks for the shout-out! What an honor! What started as a one month “discovery and research” sponsorship at #Blogchat led to an amazing year of learning and brainstorming about what would serve the Paper.li community, end-users and Paper.li best.
Even though I’m no longer with Paper.li, it is so awesome and such a joy! to see new elements of the program coming to life. You’ve been an incredible partner and advisor in ensuring all programs are the right fit. Every company needs you on board. My recco: call Mack today!
Mack Collier says
Thank you Kelly! Working with you last year and continuing with the Paper.li team has been a joy. So exciting to work with a customer-centric company!
Donna Papacosta says
Very interesting, Mack. I’ve long been a raving fan of Paper.li and often encourage others to use it, particularly the paid version. I love the functionality and, as you say, their “customer care” is superb.
Mack Collier says
Hi Donna, good to see you again! Some interesting things in the works this year for Paper.li users!
Kelly Hungerford says
You are recognised within the company as well as fan, Donna. People/friends/users/fans like yourself are exactly why this is so exciting. Paper.li is creating a way to develop the relationships further.
I was knee deep in connecting the dots, listening, engaging and experimenting with ideas that matched user expectations when I was there. A lot of companies stop with the feedback but don’t move towards embracing programs that will take the customer relationship to the next step. They simply keep the it all for themselves, improving what they think is necessary, but not actually what the users might think is necessary.
I’m really excited that Paper.li is launching programs that reach out and hug the community. It take technology + process + people + commitment to do that. (My arms alone weren’t long enough!)
Belinda Sadouk says
We are really very excited about opening up Backstage at Paper.li to the entire Paper.li community and beyond. It was a natural step, building on the great work started by Kelly (thanks Kelly☺).
Opening up the data debate this week has already brought excellent input from the community and inspired quite a few discussions in the office. This is exactly what we hoped for! Extending the Paper.li team to include a community of interested customers opens up the thinking and creative power, which in the end will bring great value to the Paper.li team, our future products and ultimately our customers.
Will keep you in the loop as to how we are doing and look forward to your support as always.
Mack Collier says
Hi Belinda! I’m glad those discussions are happening, as Backstage at Paper.li continues to evolve and grow it will lead to more input from users, and more interesting discussions. Exciting times!