GuildQuality is a customer feedback platform tailored for home builders, remodelers, and service providers. It stands out by conducting comprehensive surveys through a combination of text messages, emails, and phone calls. With a remarkable 60% response rate, GuildQuality provides valuable insights for companies committed to continuous improvement.
Having been around for over a decade, the brand had attracted a loyal and enthusiastic user base of quality-minded companies. But the platform was showing its age and becoming difficult to maintain. It wasn't poised for growth, and finding engineers willing to work on it was challenging. Ambitious plans for new functionality were hampered by an outdated tech stack and a myriad of customizations for specific accounts. The user experience lagged behind modern standards, the application struggled on mobile devices, and customers frequently requested improvements that weren't easy to implement.
Research and preparation
Planning with stakeholders
I worked closely with the founder, head of engineering, and other stakeholders from sales and customer success to define a vision for the future. We wanted to imagine the app that would one day put GuildQuality out of business, so we could start building it now. We considered partial solutions, such as upgrading specific components while leaving others intact. But we ultimately decided on a complete redesign and rebuild.
We arranged in-person customer visits to gain insights into their businesses, challenges, and opportunities. Understanding how GuildQuality fit into their operations not only helped us identify areas for improvement but also allowed us to empathize and appreciate the tasks they entrusted us with.
As the engineering team grew in preparation for the rebuild, we realized a change in our work process was necessary for success.
A traditional agile process wasn’t a fit due to the exploratory and foundational work ahead. Inspired by Basecamp's 6-week cycle process, especially after a visit to Chicago to meet Jason Fried and some of the team, we reshaped our development approach to strike a balance between accountability and freedom to experiment.
Early work was exploratory, trying to reimagine the job of providing customer feedback as well as building an architecture and testing new techniques and technology.
We ultimately defined a minimum viable product (MVP) that combined the best qualities of the legacy app with some fresh ideas, focusing on one of our simpler use cases.
We built and launched this to a group of beta testers, and continued in cycles of refinement.
Using Fullstory, a brand-new tool at the time and neighbors down the street from the GuildQuality office, we incorporated realtime behavioral analytics. This was helpful in understanding friction points and opportunities while we continued iterating.
Further releases addied new features previously impossible with the legacy app, while also incorporating key legacy functionality we learned from users was important to maintain, all the while expanding the segments our new product was suitable for, and migrating qualified accounts over.
As the promise of our new platform began to crystalize, we changed course to replace all our legacy platform’s essential capabilities within a year.
When we reached a point where the new version could better serve the majority of our customers, we began retiring the legacy product and selling the new one exclusively. We accelerated the migration process and started addressing the edge cases of large and complex accounts, working to render as many account-specific customizations obsolete as we could along the way.
The new GuildQuality was the culmination of over two years of work, and there were some key capabilities I was particularly proud of:
Our goal with the new app was to make our reports as versatile as possible. The old reports were user-case specific and often necessitated custom reports for priority customers, while other customers did not receive this level of service.
The new system allowed for creating and sharing unlimited reports with your team. Users could enable/disable components, allowing for a wide range of use cases. We also improved data filtering, segmentation, and comparison capabilities.
Survey templates are the backbone of GuildQuality. They control survey questions, communication methods (SMS, email, phone), message language, schedules, and more.
We introduced a standard set of "smart" questions based on years of research to collect essential project information. These smart questions would automatically adapt to the customer's project type and ask appropriate questions in the right order. And being standardized, they allowed us to offer valuable peer benchmarking.
Profiles and widgets
Our public profiles display customer feedback, helping companies build trust with potential buyers and guiding them in making informed purchasing decisions.
We also created widgets for embedding profile elements on company websites, including an interactive project history map — a crowd favorite.
With an improved product, we aimed to maximize growth. Traditional product-led growth can be challenging when dealing with mid-market and enterprise accounts and services that require top-down coordination for accessing customer data. To that end we leaned on design to make the difference.
Our goal was to make the app as self-serve as possible, so that even if you required formal implementation with our success team, it could be brief and reinforced by the product itself.
Our onboarding flow was a collaboration with our customer success team. We created a self-service onboarding checklist based on the team’s established onboarding best practices, allowing users to set up their account without human intervention.
We invested in integrating with third-party data sources in the new GuildQuality, building a self-serve integration system that would have been too challenging in the legacy system. With these integrations, new users could connect and manage their surveying from the comfort of their existing CRM.
As a survey platform, the main thing we want people to do is send surveys! But we found some friction points that could be getting in the way, and set out to address them.
One issue was users not realizing the first step to sending a survey was adding a contact. Simple enough, and a classic example of us designing our navigation too closely to our data structure. The solution? A persistent “add surveys” button shown on every screen that contained other quick actions as well. Upon launch this button became the most clicked-on button in our app. Learn more about this project from our lead designer at the time, Chris Dailey.
Secondly, we addressed users forgetting to send surveys after adding contacts. We updated the design to prompt users to send a survey when saving a contact and created a pattern for important confirmation steps used throughout the app. Chris wrote more about this as well.
One of our sister brands at EverCommerce specialized in generating leads, and their process involved surveying customers for testimonials, which GuildQuality faciliated. As our companies merged, we integrated their lead tracking system into the main GuildQuality platform, simplifying the user experience. Read more about this project.
With many new leads in our system and more companies using GuildQuality to view results, we wanted to leverage their attention for upselling. We introduced full lifecycle tracking for projects, from lead to sold to completed. Although we already provided surveys for each project stage, we hadn't effectively promoted their use. To address this, we simplified the process for leads to update their status to sold or completed, automatically initiating the relevant survey. Additionally, we revamped the project screen to streamline progress tracking.
While there is a lot to be proud of, I‘ve learned some hard lessons as well.
Platform migration is painful
A big driver of GuildQuality’s growth are its relationships with large contractor networks. These partners conduct surveys across their network, and their networks often spanned both versions of the platform.
To maintain functionality, we had to create bridges between the legacy and new platforms, including in rollup reports and our public-facing contractor directory. And it meant creating complex scripts to handle translating company data when it came time to migrate them.
This weight of this complication was unanticipated, and slowed our full release a bit as we readjusted.
Rebooting the product involves rebooting the company
Looking back, we didn’t do enough change management within the company to update teams and strategies in preparation for the new platform. This restricted our initial ability to capitalize on new capabilities.
This project taught me a lot about thorough, frequent, and persuasive communication, and how a product rollout is only as good as your ability to bring the entire organization along.
Redesigning and optimizing GuildQuality for growth has been one of the most interesting projects of my career. It’s good to know the work is well-received:
🙌 Customer praise
Customers have overwhelmingly praised the new app, and early on, multiple accounts were saved from cancelling by migrating them to the new system.
💎 Better product marketing
Marketing became easier as the app looked and felt like a peer of other, larger SaaS platforms that customers interacted with on a daily basis.
🚀 Faster innovation
New features like those mentioned above have been possible to build and release at a rate GuildQuality was previously unable to achieve on its legacy platform.
📉 Lower churn
The launch and adoption of data integrations resulted in a 50.2% lower churn rate for integrated accounts.
⭐️ High NPS
GuildQuality consistently receives strong ratings and recommendations, with an extremely high NPS of 70.