Getting into the Customer’s Mind: How Wingify does it

Wingify’s flagship product, Visual Website Optimizer, allows marketers to A/B test different versions of their websites and landing pages to determine what works best. Since its launch in 2009, Wingify has bootstrapped its way to acquire more than 3000 customers, including popular web companies such as airbnb, Groupon, and Bigcommerce. We speak to Sparsh Gupta, CTO and Partner at Wingify, to understand how the company anticipates and fulfills customer needs.

How do you decide if there is a need for a product feature or an upgrade? Talk to us about it.

One of the key things at Wingify is that everyone here is very close to customers, we are talking to them continuously. We keep looking at their use cases and see if anything can be done in a better way. That’s where the whole idea germinates. It goes from there to the product team, which catches the pipeline and that’s how we come up with new versions. One of the key contributors to this process are the sales people. They are the ones who face our clients on a regular basis, talk to customers, and try to understand their use cases. They try to understand what is it that our customers are doing, what they are trying to achieve, what their specific needs are and so on. These are the things that helps us understand our customer needs better and figure out how we can deliver a better product. This results in different updates or versions on the product side.

Is there any research process you follow here, and how do you execute it?

We don’t have a very formal process, it is quite informal, and the core of it is that we remain very close to our customers. I, personally, have lots of customers on my direct e-mail list and chat, we keep discussing all the time what are the issues they are facing and what are the different things they want in our product. I think the same goes with everyone in the company. Everybody talks to customers at whatever level they can and that is what the research is. If someone gives us some idea, we discuss it internally if we think it is something worth doing. Some of the feedback has been very useful: positive or negative. So everything revolves around the feedback and that is the research part basically.

What are the some of the teams that are primarily involved in this process?

We don’t have a specific team just for research, the ideas come from various teams. As I said, the sales team is the one which is primarily talking to customers, trying to understand their needs, their requirements. From the sales representative it comes to the product team. We have a very strong discussion network within the company. Whatever ideas we receive, we discuss it and see if we are able to put it somewhere on the roadmap and that is where it starts. Apart from sales, the support team is the one which is approached with ideas. They are the ones whom existing clients approach, and tell their new needs and how they are trying to use the product, and while resolving their issues, we come across new ideas. The whole idea is to automate things and ease the use of the product.

Talk to us about your customer support team. What do you look for in hiring for this team?

First of all, we call it the customer happiness team, and this team is very critical for us. One of the things, which we look for is very good communications skills. I think somewhere some understanding of the technical details is also important, because at the end of the day, the product is technical in nature, and the job involves talking to engineers and developers, and understanding their use cases. Ultimately, what matters is how interested is this person in providing support. There are customers who report issues at mid-night or need us to respond urgently, so the team should be very responsible, very eager to help and make them comfortable.

What are the key considerations for customers in switching to or buying your product?

So when somebody approaches us, and when they are new to A/B Testing, the initial view they have is this is complicated because on paper it does look so. But when he starts looking at our solutions and talking with one of our sales representatives, they get amazed by how easy it is. So one of the key features on which we have always focused is ease of use. We want the whole experience of using the product to be easy for anybody. A lot of customers who are using us are non-tech people, usually marketing professionals. To demonstrate, when we develop new features which are working perfectly fine but have not yet shipped, it is because the ease-of-use is not yet there. So ease of use is one of the key things. Support is definitely another key offering of ours, which people love. Again our support team is very responsible, very proactive and they are eager to help. So whosoever has used us for long enough, they are usually very interested in the support we provide. This is very critical when we are talking to enterprises. Apart from these, we have a very flexible pricing plan, so different customers of different needs can get different levels of products, whatever suits them best. I think there are loads of advanced features that we provide, compared to our competitors, and we provide them in a very easy-to-use way. I think, at the end of the day, it is the value for money that matters, if you are able to show that even if you spend X money on us, there will be positive ROI.

So, coming to money, how much is pricing actually an issue? You are on a subscription model for sure, but even there, is pricing a key consideration for customers?

Fortunately, we are in an industry where pricing is not one of the critical things. We are serving a customer segment that is not very price sensitive. I am not saying that 100 per cent of our customers are price insensitive, but I think the whole A/B testing platform, as we say, is a luxury to any marketing team. This is not a necessity for any marketing team. A lot of customers who are using us already have their basics right and have sufficient budget to support one of these luxuries. So I don’t see a lot of people being very sensitive about the price. We usually come across people who say, we are happy to pay more, but give us X or Y as well. So, yes, the customers we have fortunately do not mind the price tag attached with the services.

What guidance or tips do you have for start-ups using subscription models on how they can iterate and discover their pricing? How did you go about it?

So the way we went about it was just very random. Honestly, my co-founder Paras and I were talking all day and were tossing different numbers and we thought, let’s just do this. There is no mathematics, I mean you cannot do cost vs. outcome analysis in SaaS-based pricing. What we did was a fair bit of competitor analysis. We figured we had a competitor in a Google product, which was free, and a product by Adobe, which was pretty expensive, so we knew that we needed to place ourselves somewhere in between. You can’t sell service for free, but obviously at the same time, we won’t be able to match Adobe’s product to start with. So that’s where we got our initial bench mark. Now, we did launch our product as Beta, which was completely free for a bunch of customers, and we were very proactive in talking to them and discovering how much they were willing to pay if we started charging. We got very honest opinions on how much they were willing to pay or not pay and for what features or functions. Those were the key points on which we based our pricing.

You have customers from across the world. What are the key differences you find between customers here and customers in advanced markets?

What our teams generally find is that Indian customers expect more personalized service. This might be because of the fact that they don’t know that we are from India, so they sometimes ask for more personalized services. I think there is some level of impatience in some Indian customers, though I won’t generalize this because we also have some of our best customers from India. But somewhere in the mindset are the differences. We need to be much more proactive when we follow up with Indian customers, and we need to be very precise with our answers. Usually, the expectation is much more than what we can offer. Another thing I have seen personally is Indian customers are usually more interested in advanced features. So the more advanced the features, higher the interest. In the West, I think people are clear on what they want and what they don’t want.

Focusing on culture within the start-up, how do you ensure your sales, marketing and products teams are all able to think through the lens of a customer rather than a seller?

I think that’s very important, we keep seeing different companies who come up with very innovative products fail. I think the key is to ensure that what you are making is actually needed in the market. So, whenever we are making something, at the core, it should be focused on if somebody needs this feature or not. We do debate a lot of times when we try to do something in a really cool way, which is probably ingenious at some levels, but at the end of the day, what matters is, do customers need this or not. I think the same goes for marketing and sales, we do come up with difference price points and packages for products, but we try to come up with packages that makes sense for our customers. I think there are enough examples out there where technology alone has not done enough for the company.