Business Power Tools: Where Emojis Meet Customer Feedback

By Features PCmag

Feedback is an invaluable tool for businesses. That's not a groundbreaking statement by any stretch but the ways in which organizations gather digital feedback are in continual flux. This feedback may mean internal employee feedback or external feedback from your customer base, social audience, or the online demographics your business is targeting. In all of these cases, the more information you have and the faster you can gather it, the more effectively you can analyze and act upon it.

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HundredX, a San Diego-based, enterprise-facing "listening" and customer feedback startup, has distilled that feedback-gathering mechanism into a quick, simple user experience (UX) based on a universal language everyone on the internet understands: emojis. The company of a dozen employees and growing launched in 2012 as Goodsnitch, with the mission of creating a positive alternative to Yelp. Since then, HundredX has largely pivoted to providing custom enterprise feedback solutions that are embedded directly within a brand's UX. That said, the company still offers a free, consumer-facing feedback application available called Expreseit.

The way HundredX defines "listening" is different from the kind of data gathering and insights you'll find in social listening platforms. Rather than mining and monitoring the social web for brand keywords and larger customer and industry trends, HundredX treats listening as a complementary internal customer and experience metric, a 1:1 feedback loop that serves as the flipside to outward social listening.

"There are some great social listening companies using third-party platforms, essentially mining social media for data analysis," said Rob Pace, CEO of HundredX. "What we do is take your existing channels—from email, text, app, website, you name it—and plug this listening engine into it. It's not an either-or [thing, as] you need both kinds of listening.

"What's different about us is three things: one, direct listening gives you a more representative cross-section. Most of your customers probably aren't tweeting but we can still crowdsource their feedback. Two, you get more context. After you purchase something, I send you something in the moment and know who you are, what you purchased, your location; anything I already know can be organized. That brings us to the third thing, which is internal distribution and scale."

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If HundredX sounds more like an online survey tool than a listening platform, that's because it is. HundredX has the Expreseit app leftover from its Goodsnitch days for gathering consumer feedback but its enterprise customer base is now expansive. Its client list includes Mary Kay, NBC, the University of Notre Dame, event venues, restaurant chains, and major sports teams such as the Dallas Cowboys and Nashville Predators.

"The difference between how we define 'listening' and the traditional kind of survey is that listening starts with one question: 'What should we know?" said Pace. "There's this massive gap between the freemium survey tool and the heavy way a large enterprise gathers feedback. It shouldn't be crazy expensive to listen and training for a product should take 10 minutes."

The emoji mechanism itself is pretty simple: at the bottom of a website or an app UX, there's a pop-up window with clickable happy/sad emojis for feedback on a product, service, or brand. Depending on what you click, you get a broader emoji selection for deeper context. So, if you tapped that a website is good, the next screen is "Why is our website good?" with clickable emoji options such as "content," "design," and "intuitive." A third screen might have a box for additional comment and a last emoji selection of "Would you recommend this website or product?"

The experience is customizable by client and embeddable in any UX experience. In terms of actually transforming that feedback data, the startup offers a reporting dashboard with website monitoring capabilities as well as an email incident management and notification system, and will also export data for customers.

Using emojis as a shorthand for sentiment is something plenty of social listening and website monitoring tools do. As Pace explained, how HundredX applies the technology is more important since a universal feedback mechanism can be far more effective and less invasive for users (particularly in mobile-optimized experiences) than filling out a SurveyMonkey survey.

Pace was a longtime partner at Goldman Sachs, joining the firm in 1986. One of his first clients was Microsoft, which went public with the help of Goldman that year. Pace spent most of his 20-plus year career with Goldman Sachs, running west coast operations, working with not just tech companies but also major retailers including GAP and Nordstrom. He has also served as Chairman of the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army.

"I got to work with hundreds of clients on mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, etc., and work with them over time," said Pace. "Coming from that kind of financial background, one of our missions is to take this squishy concept of listening and drive it into a hard ROI [return on investment]. And there are three big return buckets for our clients: retention, both of existing customers and existing employees; crowdsourced wisdom [where] digital allows you to have this kind of 'mystery shopper' everywhere constantly feeding you data; and...the content and analytics you drive from that data."

HundredX's Top 7 Business Apps
HundredX's embeddable emoji feedback is a powerful tool for businesses in its own right, but Pace also revealed the apps and series his startup uses to communicate, collaborate, and keep track of projects, tasks, and sales goals.

1. Slack
Along with countless other organizations, HundredX handles internal communication entirely by using Slack as the company's team collaboration tool.

2. Salesforce
Next up is Salesforce. "Salesforce we use in two places," said Pace. "We use it for ourselves for [customer relationship management] (CRM) but a lot of our clients want us to export data into the Salesforce system. So it's also kind of a feedback [application programming interface] (API) to connect with their existing platforms."

3. Asana
Asana, one of PCMag's Editors' Choices for collaboration and project management, is the platform on which HundredX relies to keep track of tasks and workflow progress.

4. Atlassian Jira
When it comes to their software development pipeline, Atlassian Jira is what the HundredX dev and engineering teams rely on for task and project management.

5. Google Drive
While Slack and Asana take care of internal collaboration and project management, Pace said the startup, like many other organizations, heavily relies on Google Drive for centralized storage and team collaboration when it comes to document management.

6. UberConference
Pace said HundredX often uses UberConference to quickly communicate, particularly since the video chat tool is integrated within Slack channels using a quick /uberconference slash command.

7. Citrix GoToMeeting
Citrix GoToMeeting is interesting to Pace. "I came up in an era where selling was all person-to-person," he explained. "But now, I'd say 80 percent of our customers start out with a GoToMeeting demo to give them 30 minutes to say, this makes sense or it doesn't. That's a change in the model of how the actual sales process happens."

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