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.