Checking Their Guts
“A lot of times product people have to think with their gut,” said Francis, “but that's only the beginning.” In launching, the three founders had pretty strong instincts about how to build their product and company. But, they also knew that assumptions would only take them so far, so they ensured that at the center of their company’s core values was validation. “Customer research is the foundation of everything that we do...We really want to ground all of our assumptions in customer research and customer feedback,” said Francis. Or else, the company “wouldn’t be able to make a great product.”
The Help Scout way is to start with a hypothesis, and then validate that theory through customer research. “We always want to go to customers,” said Francis, “and make sure we're building the right thing and that we've executed it properly.”
Identifying the Great Pricing Problem
Francis and his team spent so much time perfecting the product development and customer research process that they forgot about a critical aspect of their business: pricing. “The biggest pricing mistake that we made was not touching our pricing for about two years,” said Francis. And by not adjusting the company’s pricing, Francis feared that people wouldn’t perceive the product’s value correctly. “We didn't want people to feel like it was too cheap.”
When the Help Scout team finally set their sights on revamping pricing, they knew they had to get it right. “To have happy customers, they have to feel like the product is a great value, and it's part of the first impression that they have when they visit your website,” said Francis. “It's very, very important to us, and we wanted to spend a lot of time getting it right.”
The biggest pricing mistake we made was not touching our pricing for almost two years.
Bringing in the Experts
While Francis and his team were skilled at customer research from a product development standpoint, they knew they were going to need a different level of experience and skillset. “It's really hard to ask your existing customers how they feel about your pricing,” explains Francis. “We needed some unbiased, more objective opinions on the value of our product.” So, Francis turned to Price Intelligently (PI), because its co-founder and CEO, Patrick Campbell, is “far and away the smartest, most experienced person in the world of SaaS pricing.”
“We hired Price Intelligently because we want to ground everything that we do in data and feedback,” said Francis. “We wanted to get as much of that as possible.” And data they got. Price Intelligently enlisted market panelists and other data-driven methodologies to provide Help Scout with objective feedback as well as insights into potential future buyers.
Acting on the Intel
“We didn’t want to force people up into different plans,” said Francis. “We wanted that to be a more organic process.” And thanks to PI’s research, Help Scout was able to do just that. PI provided data and insights on Help Scout’s current pricing structure, annual payments, and grandfathering system.
“Price Intelligently helped us quantify things that are extremely difficult to otherwise quantify or forecast,” said Francis. “Putting numbers behind what features would matter to potential buyers helped us select the right things to work on and gave us a level of confidence that we otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
With that newfound confidence— and PI’s research—Francis and his team identified features that could trigger pricing upgrades; they also developed a new pricing plan and enhanced an existing plan. “The plans that we came up with as a result of the Price Intelligently study have changed our business entirely.”
Since enacting PI’s recommended changes, Help Scout has certainly seen revenue improvements. Beyond that, though, the company has been able to attract more customers upmarket and enable existing customers to “grow with us,” rather than search for more enterprise-style solutions.
“Working with Price Intelligently is like having a built-in team of business analysts,” said Francis, “so that we can make informed decisions about our revenue as a business. They've got a lot of experience with this stuff, and helped us ground all of our decisions in data. It doesn't get easier.”Back to Customer Stories