Maly Charbonneau is a Partner and the Head of Marketing at Welcome Spaces. There since the beginning of Welcome Spaces, she’s been the leader in the marketing development of this new platform. From how we gain new clients to how we should onboard and support them, she brings a feminine touch to technology.
Welcome Spaces is the first neutral communication platform for clients and businesses. This means that, as far as we can tell, we are the first company to create a communication Space that is as much for the client as it is for the professional. It aims to keep all exchanges organized and centralized, saving everyone precious time.
Welcome Spaces is beneficial for anyone with a client relationship that requires multiple touchpoints throughout time. As you can imagine, this makes our clients quite diverse: our platform is currently used by accountants, financial experts, wedding planners, contractors, travel agents, and many more!
I just got my condo built about three years ago, and it was a mess. It was a billion emails, countless video calls, and many phone calls and texts. It was truly overwhelming and very disorganized.
Using our platform, a Canadian company of home builders solved this exact issue for their clients. They invite each of them into their own private Space where they can interact with all professionals: the floor plan guy, the painter, the designer, and even the financial advisor. All professionals are available when the client needs them, and each Space becomes an easy way to keep track of all exchanges throughout time.
This is honestly my favorite use case as it genuinely elevates the client experience when it comes to home building.
Why have you decided to build Welcome Spaces?
Welcome Spaces is an evolution of our legacy product, Beehivr (https://beehivr.com/). The idea for a client portal started a little bit before the pandemic, but only accelerated once we saw the disorganization that remote working created.
We even saw it with our own clients, many back-and-forth emails and transfers of documents through third parties… we needed our own solution.
With the pandemic, we saw communication get worse and worse. Communication was all over the place, and everybody got overwhelmed—E-mails, Zoom, Meet, Slack, Teams, and many other platforms, all simultaneously. We wanted to step up and simplify, centralize and organize communication for everybody.
One thing we do is that we write directly to all of our clients. For instance, within 4 hours after someone signs up, our marketing team directly writes to them and asks if they have any needs or if they would like a product demo. Every client counts, there are no “small” or “unimportant” clients; we reach out to everybody at all times.
We also have a button within our app (and not hidden somewhere, very much there for everybody to see) that says “share feedback”. All our clients are invited to submit ideas for new features, report bugs, or simply give feedback about certain features. The data we get from there is super valuable, it comes from real users and helps us create tangible improvements.
When trying to be customer-focused as a business, I think putting your values behind a good organization or something people care about is essential. For us, it was the environment. During the pandemic, we realized that technology was polluting much more than we thought. And so there was a significant movement, at least here in Canada, to go towards more green energy and green technology. For this reason, we decided to become carbon neutral from the get-go. We realized that actions like that were important to our clients, so they should also be essential to us. And likewise, they are important to us because we're all people living on this planet.
To become a client-printed company, asking for and listening to your customers' feedback is imperative. So how do you usually do this?
Apart from our mentioned “share feedback” button, there is something we do with clients with whom we’ve already had one or two touchpoints: we invite them to a Space. This means we use our platform to have a one-to-one conversation with them and keep the conversation going. And then, most times, the second they run into a problem or a need, they'll just write us into the Space, because they’re already on the platform.
We're a Startup, so we definitely care about metrics and look at them carefully. But… metrics are just numbers. And sometimes, numbers won’t tell you the problem. So I would say the main thing we do is speak to and engage with our clients. We discuss and ask questions, but more importantly, we listen to what they have to say.
At the very beginning, Spaces could only have one owner, but as professionals started using it, we were told our clients were sometimes two on an account or needed to transfer certain rights to colleagues. I can’t believe we had not thought about it.
Within two weeks, we created the collaborator feature, where you could invite a colleague to assist you in a Space.
Looking back, we needed this feature, but we wouldn't have thought about it if it weren’t for our clients.
Absolutely. We decided to position ourselves as a client portal that is as much for the client as it is for the professional, so it goes without saying that everything needs to be extremely SIMPLE.
Simple is the key here - because we have many clients in a variety of industries, sometimes the end users will be a little less tech-savvy. So it needs to be straightforward. Our user interface is 100 % based on that: It's simple, clean, nothing has to be downloaded, all actions are accessible from the Space, nothing is hidden and it’s not too heavy on the eyes.
Sometimes we have clients who experience certain issues or want to create something custom. It's not just the marketing team or a salesperson talking to them, we’ll get our developers on the calls, so they get to be client-facing too. This is super important because they're the people writing the code and developing the platform. They're the ones coming up with the creative solution most of the time. And if they don't understand the client’s needs, they won't perform their best work.
So it's pretty frequent (and unique on our side) that we're going to have the developers jumping in on client calls. Sometimes even just to listen. It’s important that all team members be involved in actively solving our client’s needs, and for that, developers also need to be in touch with them.
The biggest thing I would say is that I know time is scarce. We're all running out of time. We always have a billion things to do. And we tend to focus (wrongly) on how to get the next customer instead of taking some time to show love to the current customers that we already do have.
When in reality, these people are already your best allies, your best client focus group. They will tell us what they value and don't like if we take the time to ask and listen.
And my second piece of advice is to stop only looking at the metrics. I know metrics are excellent. I know they're important, but they don't tell the whole story. Sometimes it's vital to just engage with your client and have a one-on-one, open, honest conversation. When you screw it up, say it. When you have a bug, write to everybody and say, ‘’hey, we’ve made a mistake.’’
Just be closer to your clients.
If Welcome Spaces sparks your interest, you can access their website here.
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