Customer interview


Delighted had the opportunity to talk with Laura Reigel, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at PayScale, about the importance of the company’s customer feedback program.

What does PayScale do? And do you consider it B2B or B2C?

PayScale is a compensation company. We have products that help companies decide what they should pay employees, which is the B2B part. We also have a consumer side, where anyone can go and figure out, for a given role, what their compensation should look like. They can also find out if the salary they’re getting is fair, or if an offer they’ve received is within market norms. So, we’re really focused on making sure that people are able to have conversations between employees and employers, so everyone transparently knows where the compensation should lie.

Can you describe what you do as PayScale’s Customer Marketing Manager?

I’m responsible for all of our one-to-many customer messaging and outreach. That covers everything from advocacy to renewal and retention.

Who do you work with on the company side?

It depends on the products involved. We do work with a lot of HR – they are the hands-on functional users. But we also work a lot with compensation analysts. That would be with our larger companies, the Fortune 500 customers. We’re starting to do more work with the C-suite, as people really start to understand the benefits that a thorough compensation strategy can have for their customers and for their employees.

How have you made customer feedback a part of the operation?

I started at PayScale in 2014, and I was the first person doing customer- or renewal-retention marketing here. So one of my goals was to make sure that it wasn’t just the customer-facing team or customer-success managers that were involved. It was important that our support, training, and education teams had an idea of what our customers were experiencing with our products, with our services, and just their overall experience being a PayScale customer. So, the way I approach it is almost like identity. I want people to feel like PayScale is part of how they do their job. We make them look good in front of their bosses.

I want us to become an intrinsic part of how they work. In order to do that, I really want to make sure that we have a company-wide pulse of what people are saying about us and how people are feeling about us. Starting the Net Promoter System program here was, in some ways, less about getting that ultimate score, and more about being able to get real-time feedback about what it is that our customers are feeling about PayScale, overall.

What were some of the challenges?

Well, from there, being able to dive down and figure out, “Okay, is this about our services? Is this about our products? Is this about a white paper that they read? What are they feeling right now and how can we, as a company, make sure that we capitalize on whatever that moment is?” I think a lot of people tend to look at a detractor response as something that’s really negative – but it’s not.

I’ve been able to help people understand that this negative responder is a person who took the time to communicate with us, to let us know what’s going on with them and that they aren’t having as great an experience as they could. It really gives us the opportunity to reach out in that heightened emotional state and make things better, or just to listen and make sure that people are heard. I think a key part of the NPS program really just boils down to that. We want to make sure that our customers are heard throughout our organization, not just from people who are in customer-facing roles.

Do you pay as much attention to the verbatim part of the NPS survey as you do the number?

I would say we pay a lot of attention if someone takes the time to write a comment. It’s multiple levels of effort. The first is that people took the time to open the email. The second is someone took the time to click to give us that response. That’s one of the reasons why I, actually, love Delighted – that the customer can score right within the email.

We really rely on Delighted for the email survey functionality. With so many other companies, customers have to click on an email, go to a landing page, and then score. It’s just an additional piece of friction. Delighted does the in-email survey really well. So, once they’ve clicked in the email . . . for them to actually have taken a moment to type up their feedback…it’s important. It’s not necessarily that they’re typing out a lot, but it’s the most effort that they can generate in getting back to us. We do tend to prioritize those.

So how does this all work?

Companywide, we have Delighted hooked up to Slack. Slack is what we use for communication. We have our general company channel that has all the news. We have our department channel. We have hobby channels.

And we also have our NPS comments channel. So, come NPS day, which is the second Thursday of the month, everyone’s pretty much glued to that and watching scores as they come in. So, it’s easier to get the full picture of what the contact is saying if they do give us that extra verbatim feedback, but even just a score will have people tagging other people and saying, “Hey, they’re using this product. You’re the product manager for that. So, can you look at what this customer is concerned about?” We’ll go to the account owner, the customer success manager and say, “Hey, what’s going on with this person?”

PayScale’s been around for 15 years, and some of the customers have been with us for over a decade. So if I see a comment come in from someone whose name I recognize, I certainly let other people know about it. It’s nice to be able to share that, again, not just with the customer-facing team but throughout our organization, across multiple offices, and with our remote employees as well. It kind of brings us all together.

So this is something that the C-suite and the executive team also looks at?

Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I think that they probably spend the most time looking at the scores as they come in, on that second Thursday. The executives definitely keep an eye on it. The product managers definitely keep an eye on it, and they’ll go and tag the different owners if there’s a comment that they think is important. So, if we see a comment about service, one of the execs will go in and tag the owner of the project that they’ve just completed with us. It’s really a way to hold employees responsible and accountable, but it’s also a way to show people that they’re doing a good job and to acknowledge the work that they’ve been doing.

Based on what you’ve said, you collect NPS information once a month?

Yes, once a month – I know, it sounds like a lot. And we have what might be an overly complex way of collecting it. We survey about one sixth of our customer base every month. So, each customer, each contact, ends up receiving the survey twice a year. The first time they get it will be between 90 and 120 days of their sign-up. Then they get it every six months thereafter. Essentially a relational NPS program. When I’m calculating the NPS, I’ll go back and check over that last six months, so everyone’s comments and scores are included.

You said it’s connected to Slack. Is it connected to any other systems within the company?

We have it in Slack and in Salesforce. I’ll definitely go in, pull everything in Salesforce and do the analysis from there. I will say if I’m doing an export, I tend to do the export directly from Delighted versus Salesforce, because Delighted will do a snapshot of all of the information that I’ve uploaded. It’s just easier.

Do you compare your numbers to other industry benchmarks or do you trend just within your own company? How do you actually use and analyze what you get?

Well, the industry benchmark for compensation software is negative 45. So, we’re definitely well above that. We don’t necessarily compare ourselves to that because I just don’t consider that a goal to be better than negative 45. Kind of a given.

So if we have a new product come to market, if we have a new service, we’ll look at how that stacks up versus the rest of our products and the rest of our services to see if some of our customers are happier. With one of our products – which HR uses to communicate compensation to managers, who in turn communicate to employees – we found that our customers who were using that product have significantly higher NPS scores than our general pool of customers.

We look at that and think, “Okay, we’ve stumbled upon something. This is a huge benefit to people. This product is sticky. Let’s just work as a fast company. We always want our customers renewing and happy and coming back to us.” Being able to see that is an indication that we were on the right track with the product direction.

What kind of challenges, if any, did you face in setting all this up in the first place?

I think the concept of Net Promoter System score has been a little challenging for some folks to grasp. The idea that everyone defaults to is, “Oh, it’s an average,” or, “It’s a percentage.” It’s neither of those things. I’ve done a lot of internal education about how we actually use the score and what the score means and why it’s useful and some of the things it’s not good at doing.

Because NPS, certainly, is not a silver bullet. So, that’s actually opened up conversations with people to talk about the methodology. I think that actually ends up getting people almost more dutifully into NPS, more dutifully into being a believer in the methodology or at least understanding what it can and can’t do.

Did it take a while to get the executive team to buy into that?

It did. Our executive team first said, “Well, what are the industry benchmarks? Are we normal? Are we not doing well?” Of course, that’s important. But we also want to see, over time, if we are improving. Are we not improving? If we have those scores, if we’re getting that feedback, how quickly are we able to close the loop and address that?

It’s really about the cycle of what’s important to customers, addressing it, following up, making sure that we’ve addressed the issue. Or, just thanking them for their time for getting back to us, sharing positive feedback, and then just repeating that cycle over and over again. I think good education has really been more around having this evolving program that everyone in the company has some ownership over. It’s not just a number. It’s more than that. I think, at first, it was hard for people to understand.

Is there really one ideal customer experience you’re looking for?

We have people who purchase PayScale for all different kinds of reasons. We’ve thought a lot about customer success and what it means for someone to be successful as a PayScale customer. It really comes down to, “Are we meeting the needs that they purchased for?” Beyond that, “Are we giving them a little bit more? Are we able to get them to think beyond that initial purchase need or that initial pain point to see how compensation strategy can really propel their organization forward?”

If we’ve done that, then we consider it to be really, truly successful. That does look very different for a Fortune 500 company versus someone who’s doing HR for a company that has 60 employees. It is unique, and we have a lot of different people who put time and effort into making sure that we have a unique experience for each one of those customers. So, we want people to have consistently positive experiences with PayScale but, certainly, we want them to have the experience that they came to us for, not one that we’ve decided they should have.

What does the NPS number mean to you? Some people say it’s about customer loyalty. Some talk about it as satisfaction. What is it to PayScale?

Oh, that’s a great question. To me, it’s geared to experience. I don’t look at NPS as something that is stuck to our product or stuck to the customer success manager. It doesn’t belong to one person or one organization. It’s really the overall feeling and experience that that contact has experienced with PayScale.

We’ve gotten comments about our webinar content and our white papers. We had one comment about our accounts receivable – an employee who calls people for collections. Apparently, somebody had a really good experience with her, which was absolutely wonderful to see. But it’s so much more than one person. I really think of it as just the overall experience with our company and our brand.

How do you see the whole process of your customer feedback program evolving over the next couple of years?

We have a lot of people who are thinking about that. I really think about being able to better tailor the experience that our customers can have with PayScale. I spoke earlier about how we have so many different customers who have different pain points and who purchase for various reasons. We want to make sure that we’re able to address all of their unique needs. As we’ve grown and expanded our customer base, and we have customers with so many different use cases, making sure that we can really create the best possible experience for each of them, is ultimately the goal of our customer marketing program.

Do you think you’ll need to change your process to continue to gain new insights?

We’re very happy with the methodology and the delivery mechanism to our customers. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback about those. I feel that twice annual feedback, that that’s a good cadence to be asking customers for feedback.

Seattle, WA

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