The beginning

Back in 2019, Michael and I were working at Maisons du Monde and iAdvize. At the same time, we were operating the biggest french chatbot on Messenger: Bavard.

Everyday, we were sending entertainment content to nearly 1M subscribers, monetizing it via display ads on our website and brand content campaigns right in Messenger. Everything was going well. We were generating thousands of Euros of revenues while working only a few minutes a day, to schedule the distribution of our content.

Mid-2019, we decided to leave our jobs to focus 100% on Screeb (which was not called like that at the time). Our plan was simple: if we manage to get those results by working 10 minutes a day, they will be even greater if we dedicate all of our time to it. So on January 2020, we transitioned to Screeb and started developing our content strategy, our communities growth plan and we built a proper monetisation offer. Samuel joined the team and we launched the development of our own platform to broadcast our content.

But early March, Messenger announced major changes to its API, preventing us to continue reaching our subscribers.

Being dependent of a platform

We knew that building a business on top of a single platform was a risk. And that risk became a reality only a few weeks after our actual dedication to the project. At first, we decided to continue operating as before. We had several ideas to continue pushing our content, not only from Messenger but also from Facebook and Instagram. But after a few weeks of doing that, the only conclusion we could reach was that it was impossible to touch as many people as before and that our revenues were too impacted for us to continue in that direction.

All of that was happening during the Covid-19 lockdown and so the situation was clearly awkward: it was impossible for us to continue our project, but at the same time the whole world was also on hold, in the strangest atmosphere of our lifetime.

I guess that most people would have stopped here, thinking that after all it was simply a bad decision and that most of them would have wait for the end of the crisis to look for another job. But it was definitely not our state of mind.

First of all, we needed to reduce our costs. We had the same cost structure but no revenue anymore. So since we were all working from home, we decided to release some of our desks in Le Palace in Nantes. And also, since we knew that our project won’t be a media anymore (even if we didn’t knew, at the time, what will be the new Screeb), we also decided to stop working with our content producer, Benjamin. It was a really hard decision to make, especially when the global economy is at risk, but we had no choice.

Once that was secured, we listed our assets, and especially the solution we started to build to manage the conversational content we were producing and its broadcasting. We thought that it could be used in another way, yet to be discovered.

Exploration

To discover it, we actually took advantage from the lockdown. We had access to people who had time to talk with us, whereas they’re usually fully occupied on their day to day job. All of them accepted to talk with us on the phone, knowing that we had nothing to sell, nothing to show, but everything to learn and understand. Our goal was to discover which issue they had that conversation could solve.

We talked to SaaS companies, e-commerce websites, CPG or luxury brands, banks, insurances, medias… In their organisation, we talked to marketing, product or customer success teams. Every time, we were following a template of questions that we designed to identify patterns in their answers.

And at the end, the result was pretty clear. Covid crisis shook many companies on their recurring revenue. Some will keep acquiring new customers and some will need to focus on their customer retention to avoid churn in uncertain times. Companies will be obsessed as they have never been, about their customer retention. it will be the key to survive in many industries. To do so, companies will need to have a closer relationship with their customers to understand better their level of satisfaction, getting more feedback, understand their pain, getting more insights to react and improve eventually their retention.

Identification of an opportunity

Every company we talked to told us that, amont the things they were not able to properly do to achieve that, one of the most annoying one was customer surveys. All of them were already equipped with a survey solution, but in 100% of the cases they had the same issues:

1️⃣ It’s always hard to find a spot to send your survey.
Between marketing or customer success emails, finding a spot available to send your survey is a hard mission. Most of the time, it results in flooding customers with emails, which is bad for UX.

2️⃣ Surveys are interrupting
When companies decided to push surveys in their app or on their website (to avoid sending emails), most of the time the experience consists in interrupting the user or, maybe worse, making them leaving the app to answer the survey in another tab. People are not in your app to answer your questions. So interrupting them have a major impact (a bad one) on your UX.

3️⃣ A low response rate
Because of 1️⃣ and 2️⃣, people are not answering. In average, in-app surveys have a 12% response rate. By email, the response rate is even lower, around 8%. It means that, at best, 88% of your users refuse to answer to your questions!

4️⃣ Biased responses
And since it’s so painful to answer, most of the time the people who make that effort are really happy or really angry customers, generating biases in the answers your collect.

With such a low response rate and big biases in the insights, companies we talked to were not able to be confident when they were making decisions based on those surveys. For us, it meant that it was a great opportunity to solve a painful problem and we thought that the conversation could be a great way to do it.

With that in mind, we started to think about what that solution could look like.

The conception

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WFH with an old whiteboard found in the garage

Early from the beginning, we knew that to solve that problem, the format of the survey must be inspired from messaging apps, Instagram, Snapchat, Zenly, etc. It had to be playful, social, emotional, customisable.

The idea of a “layer” widget, to invent a new format, different from livechat or chatbots, popped. And we made a first “sketch” of it in Keynote just to have an idea of what it could look like.

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To be honest, at that point we were pretty enthusiastic about that concept but it needed to be properly researched and designed. So we worked with Mylène Larnaud, also an ex-iAdvize, to imagine what could be that format. Our brief was something like “we love Instagram, we love livechat, we want to mix them but, at the same time, to revamp everything“.

Since Mylène was an expert of conversational formats, she decided to start on exploring more survey-like ones.

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We LOVED the fact that it was embedded in the experience and, honestly, we thought that it was already better than most of the survey solutions on the market. But, for us, it had to be more conversational and more inspired from messaging apps. That’s where the Screeb we know today was born.

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We kept that “layer” effect, breaking traditional chatboxes. We have those emotional, social and playful experience. And the formats are way more engaging than traditional online surveys. Of couse, we still had to check with the companies we talked to if they were align with that solution and if they thought that it could solve their survey issues. The number of positive feedback we got were amazing and finished to convince us that we took the right direction.

Living such an impactful decision made by the platform you built your product on in the middle of the worst pandemic of the modern history was a true challenge. But I’m so happy that we manage to transform that into an opportunity to talk with more accessible people and to identify a real pain point in their daily work.

And I’m truly proud of what we conceived in that period and of our ability to develop a first version of our product and such a short time.

So now, our beta is opened and we can’t wait to see how you’ll use Screeb.

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Get an invite to Screeb and start improving your retention 👇