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Interview with Bluenose CEO Don MacLennan
By: Xenia von Wedel
Nov. 28, 2015 02:00 PM
Bluenose empowers SaaS businesses to proactively manage and engage their customers through our insight-driven toolkit and built-in play books. We rely on big data analytics and trended analyses to forecast where a customer relationship is going.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Please tell us, what is BlueNose all about and what do you do?
Don MacLennan: Bluenose empowers SaaS businesses to proactively manage and engage their customers through our insight-driven toolkit and built-in play books. We rely on big data analytics and trended analyses to forecast where a customer relationship is going.
Tell me more about Customer Success Software.
MacLennan: Customer Success is an emerging mindset and business imperative that is adopted by SaaS companies focused on driving overall adoption and retention. At its core, customer success software is about providing a complete view of customer data that helps companies proactively manage their customers through insights and action.
What is the differentiator between CRM and Customer Success Software?
MacLennan: Historically, CRM software was designed to enable customer acquisition. So, the data it was designed to house was about prospective customers. In order to understand a current customer relationship, you need a collection of data not ordinarily found in a CRM: usage/utilization data, survey responses, support tickets, billing information, recent communications, etc. Customer Success software is built on a "Customer 360" that includes everything you can know about your current customers.
Who is your target audience and how do you intend to reach them?
MacLennan: Our focus is on small to large-sized B2B companies that provide SaaS or subscription-based solutions. We reach them through several channels from direct outbound marketing to content assets that drive leading best practices for the Customer Success industry.
What market trends do you see in customer care and customer success?
MacLennan: With the rise of the Subscription Economy - business models built on recurring revenue - the financial imperative to retain and grow customers is greater than ever. This requires deeper insights about customers and a more proactive way to engage them across channels, including account management, contact centers, email and even in-application.
What is the viral aspect of your product?
MacLennan: The role of customer success is highly collaborative, both with colleagues and customers. So, we see our application being adopted by lots of peers that work with customer success teams to resolve customer issues.
How will you make money? What's the business model?
MacLennan: We sell an application suite on an annual subscription basis.
Who are your competitors?
MacLennan: We see Gainsight, Totango and Preact most often. Some companies try to customize Salesforce.com or build an internal datawarehouse, but generally conclude they can't meet the capabilities of packaged apps like ours.
How do you differentiate from your competitors?
MacLennan: What sets Bluenose apart is that we offer our clients the tools and resources to manage a wide range of customers. Typically, a SaaS vendor will have tiers of customers, and you can't service all tiers in the same way. In some cases you're managing large accounts and in others you're nurturing a single user to success. Our clients trust us to offer the right solution so their teams can proactively manage their diverse customer base.
How does your technology differentiate from the competition and can you elaborate on the different technology deployed?
MacLennan: We chose Big Data technologies that would enable us house the data that can describe every user of a SaaS app or website in detail. Even to the point of their daily use and feature mix. This kind of fine-grained data can be a large data set, and Big Data technologies are critical for that.
What business or technology could yours disrupt?
MacLennan: Traditional Sales CRM applications are perceived as the best place to manage existing customers. But in reality, they are designed to manage prospective customers along the acquisition journey. And the data required to understand a customer doesn't live there. A new type of CRM is needed. Once customers see the power of a Customer 360, they also start thinking about how to use multiple channels of engagement together, including email and in-application.
Who founded the company, when? What can you tell me about the story of the company's founding?
MacLennan: We founded the company in late 2012. My co-founder and I had many shared experiences where we couldn't access critical information about our customers and how they used our products and services. The data was "locked in a vault", if it existed at all. Our vision was to unlock the value of customer data by putting it in the hands of people who work with customers everyday.
What is your distribution model? Where to buy your product?
MacLennan: We sell entry-level offerings online, such as our new product called Pulse by Bluenose, designed to collect in-app NPS surveys. Higher editions of our product are sold by a sales team.
What's next on your product roadmap?
MacLennan: We just launched Pulse, an In-App NPS® survey tool to power customer success. The tool will allow SaaS companies to easily and effectively identify their customer advocates while also helping them collect valuable feedback from their customers.
Are you VC funded?
MacLennan: We've raised multiple rounds of financing from top-tier VC's. Our investor partners believe in our vision. They know that this is an early market that will require persistence and patience, and they share our sense of the huge opportunity ahead.
What else would you like to add?
MacLennan: I'm thankful for the support in getting Bluenose off the ground, from investors, family, employees and customers. Three years on, and it only feels like a beginning. I suppose this reflects the magnitude of the challenge we're trying to solve.
Thank you for your time.
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