Joanna Auburn is the Co-founder and CPO at Trace, a company that helps people to take climate action by offsetting their carbon footprint. In this episode, she joins Ward to discuss how you can get really far by maximizing your members’ satisfaction.
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📄 Show Transcript
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Ward Sandler: Welcome everybody today. I’m talking to Joanna Auburn, the co-founder and CPO at Trace, a company that empowers individuals and businesses to take immediate climate action by measuring and offsetting their carbon footprint. She has a Master in Sustainable Civil Engineering and a long career in renewable and sustainable energy. Most recently, she spent four years as a Lead Product Manager. Joanna, welcome to the Membership Maker Podcast. We’re thrilled to have you here!
Joanna Auburn: Hi, yes, a pleasure to be here. Thank you!
Ward Sandler: Sure thing. Customer satisfaction is if not everything, a very important factor for a business. Yes, you need a great product at a competitive price, but the experience around your product or service can make a real difference. How do you take care of customer satisfaction with your membership business?
Joanna Auburn: Yes. Great question. I think for us, our membership is sustainable like subscription to offset your carbon footprint. So again, customer satisfaction was super important because customer understanding was super important. Did they understand what they were even purchasing? So, I guess the world that we’re in, transparency is really important and making sure people trust what you’re doing. So, understanding how people felt about our website even initially was really important to us. It might sound really crazy, but I actually contact every single customer who signs up directly, not through an automation, just me and my inbox. I do my best to try and get them on the phone just for 10 minutes or even less, and this has been one of the most valuable things. I think I’ve done it the whole time. It allows you to do like almost a mini empathy interview with that person and connect with them, which means you can kind of draw into more detail than you could via email, which is also still valuable if they’re not comfortable getting on the phone, but the phone calls can just be so insightful. So allows you to open that door the other way as well, and provide them with a bit of personality about the isn’t. This, which for us is really important because, as I mentioned, transparency really important, and them trusting who is managing their money to do good with their money, is really important. So if there were any hesitations or questions in their mind that might linger and then lead to them unsubscribing in a few months, we can put those in a phone call, and that’s been really, really helpful, and I think everybody who I’ve spoken to has remained with us and has become an advocate for us, so I couldn’t recommend that more, it might sound overwhelming like, ‘Oh, I couldn’t possibly talk to everybody that comes through’, and I mean, if you’ve got huge volumes, you’re going to have to cherry-pick a little bit, but it only takes 10 minutes, and it has been so, so valuable. Some of the questions that I would ask those people, I guess, firstly, I’d ask them, how did you hear about us? And if they saw an advert or anything, like, what did they remember from it? What did they like from it? What struck them? What stuck with them? Cause we have tracking and everything in place, but everyone knows that’s not perfect, and people come back and do things; after a separate trigger very interesting to us to know what those triggers are what motivated you to sign up? So talk me through your journey or like your mindset that led you to come and be a member of Trace. How’s your experience been in signing up? That’s more to get like a bit of a technical UX kind of understanding of whether there were any problems and what do you expect from your membership? This question’s really insightful into the, under the ‘How well they understand what they’ve purchased and really helps us kind of get to grips with how they playback the product to us. That’s another thing you can ask someone to do, which I think is always really interesting. Um, so yeah, and often those, those little conversations can last five to 10 minutes, so yeah, really, really valuable. And I guess the second thing that I’ve done, which was a slightly longer process, but also really, really important and more of a choice to do it, kind of after three months and set a bit of time aside to do this was gather a few customers or potential customers and go through, sort of longer UX interview style questions with them to understand how they navigate through the homepage. You can re-watch them, do it via zoom or whatever in person if you can. But this last year, Zoom has been best friend. I also talked to customers and, as I said, get them to playback what they think they’re paying for and what they’ve remembered from the emails that you’ve sent them, what they haven’t remembered. And I just found that it was just crazy what people have remembered or not remembered from your site, and what they’ve paid for is it’s amazing how everybody interprets what you think you’ve told them, and we actually developed a couple of new features off the back of that round of interviews, which that some of those emails and the reports that we send now based on the insights from those interviews have over 50% open rate. It’s there they’ve been, they’ve been is awesome, and I think it’s kind of step changed our experience for our customers. So that was a really important period of time for us, more time consuming than the small chat on people’s arrival, but worth the while.
Ward Sandler: Yeah, wow, so many good nuggets to dig into there! One, when you’re first talking to them, and they were playing back their recollection of what you do, or what do they think this is going to do for them? I would imagine you could probably repurpose some of that for copy on your website, right? In terms of the headline or sub-headline or benefits, cause it’s, you know, whatever wording words you’re using, then they may or may not be resonating, and people might be remembering them in a different way. And if you kind of start hearing a pattern of phrases or words, people keep using it over and over. It’s probably a good idea to put that on your website because that’s what people remember for whatever reason. So, that’s clever that you did that.
Joanna Auburn: Yeah, definitely. And there’s, there’s a great example of that, which we a phrase that we’ve coined. It wasn’t said exactly this way, but another customer, but almost, and it’s a phrase that we’ve continued to use because it just is stuck with us and it really resonated, so someone described themselves as feeling a bit like a hypocrite because they do that recycling, but then they jump in their car, and that’s ultimately what, where, I’m trying to help people grapple with that feeling of guilt and when, by no means condoning, behaviors that are bad for the environment, but we understand that everyone has a lifestyle and there are things that some of us just can’t give up, so we coined the term ‘climate conscious hypocrite’, and it resonates with a lot of people and has been a good one for us. Yeah.
Ward Sandler: That’s counter-intuitive you would almost never think that’s what I should say, but if that’s what works and that works and yeah, I mean, it it’s true if you think about it, We’re all, we’re all hypocrites in different ways. No, one’s absolutely perfect at anything. So I think it’s, it’s very like a real way. I’d explain what you’re doing and the impact that it’s having, right? The other interesting part you said was the contacting folks like individually with like that, that quick 10-minute phone call pitch which I think is ever, uh, I would imagine that people still think that it’s automated when you, when you write that email, because now remember space, at least when we were either earlier stages, I would send a text message from my phone, uh, to people who signed it up and saying hi, like maybe I shouldn’t have people budget. Still, I’m just assuming that was some kind of, you know, this is some kind of spam thing. I’d be like, no, it’s actually me that let’s see. Oh, it just saying hi and safety, anything. And that would blow people away. They could be like, holy crap, like you’re actually just texting me to see if I need anything. I think it’s like, and it didn’t take long. Right. For it. You know, when you’re first starting out if you’re like 10 signups a day, even it’s like, how long does that take 10 minutes? It’s not, it’s not a big deal, but it feels like a huge deal to people. So I think that’s a really smart thing. And you did it in something people should maybe think about doing cause it’s something you can do, especially when you’re starting, right. It’s like unfair advantage you can do when you’re beginning that bigger companies can’t really.
Joanna Auburn: No, totally, and there’s, there’s a few little things that you can, you can do to help people feel like that email, even from the subject line, is genuine rather than an automated, um, response. So, I often put their name actually in the subject line, which is just generally quite difficult to do in an automated way and say like, I hope you don’t mind me reaching out directly, it’s the co-founder, and that seems to work really quite well, so we’ll just keep doing that one, I think.
Ward Sandler: Yeah. Another one I’ve heard of, have you heard a tool called a Bonjoro?
Joanna Auburn: No, not actually.
Ward Sandler: So what they allow you to do is to create custom videos very quickly. So as, instead of maybe in addition to the email, like in the body, you could say you could actually record like a five, 10, second clip to say hi and welcome them and using their name, and that is in terms of like the wow factor there’s there’s email. Then there’s email with a personal video. I was like, ‘Oh my God, so might be something for you at least try or experiment with Bonjoro. I would check them out; they’re interesting. We did a webinar with them a while ago, and they’re doing a lot of interesting things.
Joanna Auburn: That’s cool. Yeah, I’ll write that one.
Ward Sandler: So, yeah. All right, Joanna, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. We really appreciate it. We’d like to share and resources or recommendations for folks that are trying to more about trace,
Joanna Auburn: Yeah, I say the one thing you should do is calculate your carbon footprint. If you head over to our website www.our-trace.com and just scroll down the homepage, you’ll find a test to calculate your carbon footprint. We’ve got little Aussie animals which have been very popular at the end of that, so I hope you’re all perfect possums or conscientious koalas. It’ll help you understand in three minutes, understand more about how you’re having an impact on the world.
Ward Sandler: Great, that sounds wonderful. Everybody check them out!
Joanna Auburn: Thanks for having me.