As some of you might have noticed, we do many trips every year to meet our customers in different places all around the world. Why, you might ask? We could just create an online poll and let users click some buttons and be done with it. Money saved! That could be a way to do it, but we strongly believe there are reasons for going and seeing users in their “natural habitats”.
Why do we fly out to meet our clients?
Firstly, it helps to see people in their own environments. We prefer to go to their offices but if that’s not possible, coffee shops (or even bars) work just fine also. Most of the people we meet are happy to see us, feeling uplifted that we took the time to visit – and it goes both ways as we are happy to meet them, too. We can then see who these people are, what they think, how they think, and what are their feelings about Toggl and productivity in general.
Secondly, we can see people in action. In most meetings we open a laptop and let the users talk about and show how they use Toggl in their everyday endeavors. Most of the time, everything is fine, but sometimes we do see embarrassing bugs or silly mistakes in this process that we really need to take care of. As we have said in the past and keep on saying – we are listening to what our users say, because only by listening to our users’ (or should I say, your!) feedback can we improve Toggl. Of course not all you say can get implemented, but you never know 😉
Thirdly, we can improve our communications. Very often we also have to show people around Toggl so they’d feel more comfortable. And we also hear questions like “would it be possible to do this?” while the functionality is already there. This shows to us that, behind Toggl’s simplicity, there are still plenty of features that we need to make more easily “discoverable”. We try to improve the help section of Toggl based on this information as well as streamlining the functionality to make it clearer.
Deciding on the location & finding Togglers
So, that established, how do we find people to meet? The first step is to make a plan, where to go (and when). This we base on Google Analytics data – basically, we check the anonymous “visits” from GA. That will give us the “hotspots” that might be of interest. Most of the time we try to find a bigger city and then check its immediate surroundings. And if the web traffic is not high enough there’s most probably another city not far away where we can have our trip extended to. The “when” part is easier – we’ll check Teamweek for who’s travelling already and what else is planned, and then based on this information fix and add the dates of our trip there also.
Okay, so we settled on the city, now we have to find people. That can be a bit tricky, since we do not want to get into peoples’ private matters. We definitely do not search through your data and try to trawl through who you are and how you can be reached. What we do store is the location of the IP address you logged in from. Then it’s easy to run a search and get the e-mails of the people who should be in the area of interest. And to assure you – we do not share this information with anyone. It’s only for our internal purposes, to help us find Toggl users to meet.
The next step is to send meeting invitation e-mails to the users. We always state the reason for this invitation and list the dates of the trip. This is the most critical part and unfortunately we do not have a great success rate there. In general the response rate is around 10% so only one in ten emails we send out gets some kind of a response. Most of them are positive (i.e. we can start agreeing on meeting slots), some are declined and some are “we are not in this area” (if people use proxies or location databases are not up to date). But as I said, most of the time the users are willing to meet, so now comes the ping-pong of agreeing the exact timeslots.
For myself the usual pattern is five days of meetings, one hour slots with an hour in between (depending on distances needed for travel). That translates roughly to four meetings a day so at most we can meet 20 different users (or companies) during one trip. That’s the most optimistic number and I personally have not reached it yet 🙂
Tell me more about…
The information we are interested in during the meeting varies from time to time but most of the time I’ll ask these questions in some form or another:
Who are you? What is your business?
What do you use Toggl for?
How long have you been using Toggl? How did you find Toggl?
What are the highs and lows of using Toggl?
Are you satisfied with the functionality/visual? What could be changed?
What do you use besides the web version of Toggl? Desktop, Mobile apps, something else?
How is your experience with Toggl support and finding information about Toggl in general?
Remember, this is a friendly meeting, not a pre-determined questionnaire, so sometimes some questions are omitted or re-worded based on the context. There’s always the “free microphone” section where people can offer their ideas, say what they have on their minds or sometimes just rant about things. I personally value this form of interaction as it gives a very good insight into who the people are behind those e-mails.
And then you’ll board the plane and head back to the office, mostly jetlagged to hell. But the work does not stop there, because there is still more to do – classify the ideas, sort them to must haves, nice ideas or never-to-be-done’s. I also reply to the questions that went unanswered during the meeting or any followups there might be. And of course give a “kitchen talk” to people in our office about how the trip went.
So that is, in a nutshell, why and how we do the meetings. Next time you receive an email from someone at Toggl offering a meeting, I strongly suggest you reply positively – that is your best chance of influencing the direction that we are taking!