2Inspire Series – Interview with Kristina Quinones, Director of Growth Marketing at Automattic


We’re happy to present you with a brand-new episode of our 2Inspire Interview Series, where entrepreneurs, managers, experts, and creatives share their first-hand tips and best practices to get you on the road to eCommerce success.

This time, we had the pleasure to hear from Kristina Quinones, Director of Growth Marketing at Automattic, where she joined the Growth Channels team for WordPress. Her management philosophy has three cornerstones – leadership, common purpose, and objective-driven strategy. In her previous role as a Customer Experience Director at MeetEdgar, a social media scheduling tool, Kristina built and cultivated a culture of exceptional customer experience from its inception. Among other achievements for the company, she has grown the customer lifetime value (CLTV), increased trial-to-paid conversions, and maintained a high customer retention rate. With this rich background, she has plenty of knowledge to share when it comes to SaaS onboarding and retention.

Buckle up, as this episode will take you through a high-speed journey across passion and friction points, tips to improve trial-to-paid conversion rates, the ins-and-outs of great B2B customer experiences, actionable metrics for SaaS growth and much more. Watch the full interview so you won’t miss any insights!

 

Check out the full interview below:

 

 

Interview Excerpts:

Q1: How did you get into customer experience (CX)? (00:15)

“I’ve worked in SaaS for the better part of a decade. The earlier part of my career was hyper-focused on customer support operations. And then as my career evolved, and my role grew at my previous company, I expanded my area of expertise to include customer experience responsibilities.

The reason that I am passionate about customer experience is because I think that there is a real magic in being able to pair customers with the solutions that your company is offering. And you can only really do that well, ethically, and holistically, when you do have a solid grasp of what the customer experience looks like.”

 

Q2: How can a business identify the passion and friction points of its customers? (01:13)

“The difference between the two is that the friction point basically is the problem that we want to provide a solution for whereas the passion points are those touchpoints, those moments in your brand experience that actually compel the customers to take action, or to feel a certain way. They do work in tandem, and it is the ongoing challenge for any company to present their content to be a balance of the two.

As far as how you can identify them, that’s really easy. Just ask your customers the following question: ‘What successes have you seen with our products?’ Perhaps pair that with the customer satisfaction score, like something out of one to 10, so you do have a quantitative baseline. But the qualitative feedback that you will get from asking that simple question is going to give you those insights about what those passion points were.”

 

Q3: How can SaaS businesses make the most out of their free trials and improve trial-to-paid conversion rates? (02:25)

“The most important thing here is to really put everything you can possibly put into your onboarding experience. At my previous company, MeetEdgar, we found that the vast majority of people, if they were going to stay past that first month with us, we have the insights available from their usage and activation within that first hour of their time with us. So putting whatever you can towards that is very important and making sure that whenever you do send out any communication outside of the in-app onboarding experience – so emails, maybe retargeting ads if you want to bring people back into the app – everything relates to a specific action or outcome. These are like mini success points that you want the customer to see and experience, to get them from free trial, to activated free trial, to actually converting.”

 

Q4: Pre- and post-conversion user experience: which one is more challenging and why? (03:32)

“In my personal opinion, I do think that the post-conversion user experience is a more challenging beast to overcome. And the reason why is because as consumers, people are very used to the idea that they can just sign up, give something a try and then discard the product or the service. Keeping customers engaged so that they continue to stay with you and that they do have long-term retention and your company sees higher LTV from them – that is definitely way more challenging.

My biggest tip to overcome this is to make sure you’re focusing on your in-app onboarding during that very first hour. Whatever you can reasonably expect a customer to experience within that first hour, make sure that it is incredibly valuable and that they are seeing those mini successes that give them a peek into what a better future will be for them.”

 

Q5: How does a B2B company deliver great CX to create an engaging customer journey? (04:43)

“The way that a B2B company can deliver great CX and create an engaging customer journey is to make sure that you are tracking every action a customer can take so that as they move along through your product and experience it, you are making sure that you’re delivering content that is timely and relevant to wherever they are in their experience with your product.”

 

Q6: How can a company maintain a positive customer experience as it scales? (05:12)

“The most important thing is to make sure that you are a) measuring your successes, that you do have key metrics that you’re keeping an eye on, and b) that you have very specific goals. Making sure that you have those objectives set and that you have measurable metrics in place, and that you are accountable for actually going back and analyzing them, that is the best way to make sure that you maintain the level of performance that you are looking for and that your customers deserve.”

 

Q7: What are some actionable metrics you use to measure and track SaaS growth? (05:55)

“There are a lot of metrics that you can measure when you’re looking at SaaS growth. But the three that I would recommend focusing on are the number of leads that you’re getting each month (so everyone who shows interest in the product, but maybe hasn’t signed up yet), the trial-to-paid conversion rate (or, if you don’t have trial-to-paid, just your sign-up conversion rate), and then finally, your retention metrics. So, what does your churn look like? Are you actively keeping more customers on than you’re losing each month?”

 

Q8: How do you balance experimentation with tangible results? (06:34)

“In my experience, the best way to balance experimentation with tangible results is to make sure that you’re doing the upfront work of defining your foundation, where you’re starting from and setting reasonable expectations to begin with. And the best way to approach that is to just be honest when  you’re setting out to try something new – is this something that you think will get X results and if so, why?”

 

Q9: What is an online tool you rely on the most and can further recommend? (07:08)

“I really love Grammarly. I think that Grammarly is incredibly powerful and it’s one of the most useful apps I’ve ever used. I think that anybody who’s writing emails or anything at all (so most people who work on the internet), would benefit from using Grammarly.”

 

Q10: What is the best book you’ve read lately? (07:34)

“The best book that I’ve read in the past year is Atomic Habits by James Clear. I think that if you are in any way like me, a person who is able to be a lot more productive with at least a little bit of planning in their life, this is a really great book to dig into. And even if you’re already a master of habits, I think that it’s a really interesting read to understand how different people respond to different strategies for being more productive. So, it’s great for your own personal development, and it’s also great for professional development, in helping you understand how to help your peers, or your team members do their best work and build strong productivity habits.”

 

Q11: What is your advice for fellow women in SaaS? (08:26)

“My advice for fellow women in SaaS is to stay curious and don’t dampen your curiosity. If you ever feel like you have to not ask a question, that’s your signal to go ahead and ask the question.”

 

Stay in the know

Hopefully, by now, you’ve identified some new insights that you can apply to your own SaaS business to optimize the customer experience and improve your key metrics. Until our next episode, check out some previous installments of the 2Inspire series to discover other expert-validated tips and tricks:

 


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