Pushpay: Putting People Above Everything

By Jenny Mayo
on 24 January 2019

It’s 2019, and by now you know that if you aren’t a company with a customer-obsessed culture, you’re lagging behind. But how do you achieve that status, and more importantly, how do you start? Here to tell us is Troy Pollock, VP of Community at Pushpay, a mobile giving platform geared toward the faith, education, and non-profit sectors (and fellow Kiwi-born company!).

Check out Troy’s talk from our recent CX Obsession event in Seattle, Washington:

So how do you become a customer-obsessed company?

In this video, Troy breaks down becoming a customer-obsessed company into a three-part formula. First, you have to have a product — one that you continually innovate on, and more importantly, one that solves a customer’s problem. Next, you need solid processes to scale and support the product — you don’t want to be one of those companies known for providing terrible support. But above all else, you need people.

People > Everything

“People are the single most important ingredient for your organization to be customer obsessed,” Troy shared (and we’ve definitely heard this theme before — check out this talk from Ruby Receptionists at a past event). This means not only seeking out and hiring the right people for your organization but also being just as invested in their success as you are in your customers’ success. Satisfied, engaged employees will naturally want to deliver good experiences to your customers. Just like Sir Richard Branson says, “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple!”

Big thanks to Troy for sharing the Pushpay story. Be sure to stay tuned for more videos, stories, and details on our next event. Want to see CX Obsession happen near you? Vote for your city in our poll or hit us up on Twitter @asknicely!

 

Want more stories about customer obsession?

VIEW MORE VIDEOS

 

Video transcript:

Hey, everybody. I am Troy Pollock. As Leah mentioned, I am part of the Pushpay team. I’ve been on staff for about six years, and that’s how long we’ve been in America. So I was the first U.S. employee, part of the founder’s group. And like any startup, you start with business development and sales. But shortly after that, I did the customer success team and grew it from 1 to about 75. So it was a lot of fun.

 

I’d like to thank the entire AskNicely team for this opportunity to stand here in front of you all. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the team over the last little while and love what you all are doing, and love that you’re putting on these events. So thank you. It’s an honor to stand here and tell you a little bit about the Pushpay story. All right. Crowd participation time.

 

Feel free to raise your hand. How many of you think you are customer obsessed or your organization is customer obsessed? Right. That’s why you’re here. If not, you stumbled into the right meeting tonight if you want to learn about it. But over the next little while, I’m going to tell you everything I know about customer success. Actually, we’d be here all night, so I’m just going to tell you a little bit.

 

Pushpay was founded by two Kiwis in New Zealand in 2011 with a goal to make payments to charities as easy as buying a song on iTunes. Think about that back in 2011. Now, we do everything on our smartphones. But back then, that was a revolutionary idea. So our first numeric goal was to process $1 billion on our platform to charities.

 

Now, for a second, let me just belabor this point. You might be like me, anything over one million, my wheels kind of spin out. So I’ll break it down. One million seconds ago: 12 days. One billion seconds ago: 32 years. So it’s a big goal. You can see some of the growth behind me.

 

In 2012, we had zero revenue. 2014, we got to $200,000 in revenue. Today we’re at $100 million. When you grow at that pace, you have a lot of challenges. There’s a lot of growing pains. There’s a lot of things downstream that put constraints on your business, not just on staff but on funding, on product market fit.

 

There’s a couple of staffers here in the audience, they know what I am talking about. So I’m going to tell you some of the things that we did to ensure that the organization was customer obsessed with everything that we do. So the first thing, you need a product. We all know you need a product. Not only one that works, but one that you continually innovate and release new features to solve your customer’s problems.

 

Why is that customer going to leave their current vendor to come to you? You got to have a really, really good product. We all know this. The second thing is you got to have really good systems and processes to support scale. A lot of us in this room, we recognize certain brands based on how poor their support [is]. Xfinity. Comcast.

 

If you work for those organizations, I apologize. I’m not throwing you under the bus, but I really am because it’s terrible. Any governmental office, terrible. Systems and processes are important. But you know what’s more important and supersedes it all? The people. So the people are the single most important ingredient for your organization to be customer obsessed, and here’s the reason.

 

When you have the right people, they build the right product. When you have the right people who build the right product, they’re going to build the right systems and processes to support scale. So in my opinion, it’s people over everything, people are the single greatest asset that we have inside of our organization. When we have the right people, they are going to take it upon themselves to solve customers’ problems.

 

In the early days, we jacked up. We had some bad hires to start, so we had to fix that problem. So we came up with an idea. Let’s call a culture day. Cultural day for us was we invited a group of prospects into a room, put them through a process of technical assessments and other stuff. I gave them a packet to welcome them. There was a letter from me, there was a schedule, there was an agenda, and there was also an envelope with a $50 bill.

 

Yes, we used to pay people to come to get interviews at Pushpay. It was crazy, but that is people obsession. And when you are people obsessed, they’re going to become customer obsessed. Right? When those people become empathetic and do everything short of sin to solve your customer’s problems, you’re onto something.

 

So one thing we did is literally refresh the screen millions of times a day. Because in our world, our customers survive on the contributions and donations from end users. And if they fail as a payments company, that sucks. So we’ve got to make sure that they don’t fail. So we used to refresh the screen and follow-up with every end user who had a failed transaction to make sure that it went through the platform.

 

Another thing that we did that was customer obsessed is at our conference, our user conference, there was a guy that was tweeting for three straight days how bad he wanted the decorative orange pillow, hashtag swag. And I called him up on stage and gave him the pillow, and he tweeted he was the happiest man in the entire world. So we made somebody happy that day.

 

But when you have the right people who build the right systems and processes, and the right product and go the extra mile, you are going to be an organization that is absolutely customer obsessed because they’re going to solve your customer’s problems. As our friend Richard says, “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple!” One of the craziest, most audacious things we did at Pushpay at one of our user conferences, we flew 275 people down from Redmond, Washington, to Anaheim, California, to be part of our event so that they could meet our customers in person.

 

That was a big bill, but that was something that we did that was crazy. This is the type of feedback you get from your customers, “I tell everyone in our organization and beyond that, you have the best customer support I’ve ever used. Your people are prompt and problem solvers. I wish all of the customer support services that I had to use were as good as you. A+++.” That slide was fast. Okay.

 

The last thing that I’m going to leave you with, and this is the most important practical takeaway:

I encourage you all in every single meeting that you have, have an open chair. That chair represents the voice of the customer. So in all of your doing, in all of your strategizing, do not lose sight of: how does that impact the customer?

 

And by the grace of God, I finished this on time. So thank you, everybody. I look forward to hanging out with you guys. And maybe we could talk and fill in some of the gaps, but my time with you is done. Thank you, everybody.

It’s 2019, and by now you know that if you aren’t a company with a customer-obsessed culture, you’re lagging behind. But how do you achieve that status, and more importantly, how do you start? Here to tell us is Troy Pollock, VP of Community at Pushpay, a mobile giving platform geared toward the faith, education, and non-profit sectors (and fellow Kiwi-born company!).

Check out Troy’s talk from our recent CX Obsession event in Seattle, Washington:

So how do you become a customer-obsessed company?

In this video, Troy breaks down becoming a customer-obsessed company into a three-part formula. First, you have to have a product — one that you continually innovate on, and more importantly, one that solves a customer’s problem. Next, you need solid processes to scale and support the product — you don’t want to be one of those companies known for providing terrible support. But above all else, you need people.

People > Everything

“People are the single most important ingredient for your organization to be customer obsessed,” Troy shared (and we’ve definitely heard this theme before — check out this talk from Ruby Receptionists at a past event). This means not only seeking out and hiring the right people for your organization but also being just as invested in their success as you are in your customers’ success. Satisfied, engaged employees will naturally want to deliver good experiences to your customers. Just like Sir Richard Branson says, “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple!”

Big thanks to Troy for sharing the Pushpay story. Be sure to stay tuned for more videos, stories, and details on our next event. Want to see CX Obsession happen near you? Vote for your city in our poll or hit us up on Twitter @asknicely!

 

Want more stories about customer obsession?

VIEW MORE VIDEOS

 

Video transcript:

Hey, everybody. I am Troy Pollock. As Leah mentioned, I am part of the Pushpay team. I’ve been on staff for about six years, and that’s how long we’ve been in America. So I was the first U.S. employee, part of the founder’s group. And like any startup, you start with business development and sales. But shortly after that, I did the customer success team and grew it from 1 to about 75. So it was a lot of fun.

 

I’d like to thank the entire AskNicely team for this opportunity to stand here in front of you all. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the team over the last little while and love what you all are doing, and love that you’re putting on these events. So thank you. It’s an honor to stand here and tell you a little bit about the Pushpay story. All right. Crowd participation time.

 

Feel free to raise your hand. How many of you think you are customer obsessed or your organization is customer obsessed? Right. That’s why you’re here. If not, you stumbled into the right meeting tonight if you want to learn about it. But over the next little while, I’m going to tell you everything I know about customer success. Actually, we’d be here all night, so I’m just going to tell you a little bit.

 

Pushpay was founded by two Kiwis in New Zealand in 2011 with a goal to make payments to charities as easy as buying a song on iTunes. Think about that back in 2011. Now, we do everything on our smartphones. But back then, that was a revolutionary idea. So our first numeric goal was to process $1 billion on our platform to charities.

 

Now, for a second, let me just belabor this point. You might be like me, anything over one million, my wheels kind of spin out. So I’ll break it down. One million seconds ago: 12 days. One billion seconds ago: 32 years. So it’s a big goal. You can see some of the growth behind me.

 

In 2012, we had zero revenue. 2014, we got to $200,000 in revenue. Today we’re at $100 million. When you grow at that pace, you have a lot of challenges. There’s a lot of growing pains. There’s a lot of things downstream that put constraints on your business, not just on staff but on funding, on product market fit.

 

There’s a couple of staffers here in the audience, they know what I am talking about. So I’m going to tell you some of the things that we did to ensure that the organization was customer obsessed with everything that we do. So the first thing, you need a product. We all know you need a product. Not only one that works, but one that you continually innovate and release new features to solve your customer’s problems.

 

Why is that customer going to leave their current vendor to come to you? You got to have a really, really good product. We all know this. The second thing is you got to have really good systems and processes to support scale. A lot of us in this room, we recognize certain brands based on how poor their support [is]. Xfinity. Comcast.

 

If you work for those organizations, I apologize. I’m not throwing you under the bus, but I really am because it’s terrible. Any governmental office, terrible. Systems and processes are important. But you know what’s more important and supersedes it all? The people. So the people are the single most important ingredient for your organization to be customer obsessed, and here’s the reason.

 

When you have the right people, they build the right product. When you have the right people who build the right product, they’re going to build the right systems and processes to support scale. So in my opinion, it’s people over everything, people are the single greatest asset that we have inside of our organization. When we have the right people, they are going to take it upon themselves to solve customers’ problems.

 

In the early days, we jacked up. We had some bad hires to start, so we had to fix that problem. So we came up with an idea. Let’s call a culture day. Cultural day for us was we invited a group of prospects into a room, put them through a process of technical assessments and other stuff. I gave them a packet to welcome them. There was a letter from me, there was a schedule, there was an agenda, and there was also an envelope with a $50 bill.

 

Yes, we used to pay people to come to get interviews at Pushpay. It was crazy, but that is people obsession. And when you are people obsessed, they’re going to become customer obsessed. Right? When those people become empathetic and do everything short of sin to solve your customer’s problems, you’re onto something.

 

So one thing we did is literally refresh the screen millions of times a day. Because in our world, our customers survive on the contributions and donations from end users. And if they fail as a payments company, that sucks. So we’ve got to make sure that they don’t fail. So we used to refresh the screen and follow-up with every end user who had a failed transaction to make sure that it went through the platform.

 

Another thing that we did that was customer obsessed is at our conference, our user conference, there was a guy that was tweeting for three straight days how bad he wanted the decorative orange pillow, hashtag swag. And I called him up on stage and gave him the pillow, and he tweeted he was the happiest man in the entire world. So we made somebody happy that day.

 

But when you have the right people who build the right systems and processes, and the right product and go the extra mile, you are going to be an organization that is absolutely customer obsessed because they’re going to solve your customer’s problems. As our friend Richard says, “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple!” One of the craziest, most audacious things we did at Pushpay at one of our user conferences, we flew 275 people down from Redmond, Washington, to Anaheim, California, to be part of our event so that they could meet our customers in person.

 

That was a big bill, but that was something that we did that was crazy. This is the type of feedback you get from your customers, “I tell everyone in our organization and beyond that, you have the best customer support I’ve ever used. Your people are prompt and problem solvers. I wish all of the customer support services that I had to use were as good as you. A+++.” That slide was fast. Okay.

 

The last thing that I’m going to leave you with, and this is the most important practical takeaway:

I encourage you all in every single meeting that you have, have an open chair. That chair represents the voice of the customer. So in all of your doing, in all of your strategizing, do not lose sight of: how does that impact the customer?

 

And by the grace of God, I finished this on time. So thank you, everybody. I look forward to hanging out with you guys. And maybe we could talk and fill in some of the gaps, but my time with you is done. Thank you, everybody.


About the author

Jenny Mayo

Jenny is AskNicely’s Marketing Coordinator. Her experience in both tech and hospitality give her a keen understanding and passion for customer experience. Outside the office walls, you can find Jenny hula hooping, crocheting unicorn hats for her friends, or walking her canine child, Stella (who may or may not have a tiny unicorn hat of her own).

Other posts by Jenny Mayo

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