Tools for business owners – with Customer Thermometer's founder

In the first of our new series in which SME founders discuss the business tools they couldn’t live without, we catch up with the founder of the one-click customer satisfaction app.

23 December 2019

Lindsay Willott (above) launched customer satisfaction app Customer Thermometer in 2011. In short, the 'one-click' tool helps companies get feedback fast. Willott's business now has more than 10,000 users and caters for tens of languages.

Each month Customer Thermometer surveys are filled out in more than 170 countries. Here, we ask its founder what tools, tech and toys she couldn't live without.

Book – The Daily Stoic

This was originally gifted to me by a friend, and is basically a book of 365 very short pieces of stoic writing to remind you that whatever happens in the world, you can't change it – but you can govern your reaction to it.

Just last week there was a day when we thought that we might lose a big customer, but at the same time we had a team meeting that we were all really looking forward to, and an awards event as well. If you let the negatives completely colour your day and your emotional judgement, it can really run away with you. The Daily Stoic helps remind you that things will happen – and that the bit you’re in control of is whether you see them in a positive or a negative light. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Podcast – In Our Time

This Radio 4 podcast is a re-run of the show that takes place once a week which is presented by Melvyn Bragg, and it’s brilliant because it's so wide-ranging. They recently covered H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, talking about the novel and the social and historical contexts. They do all sorts, and it's a mix of politics, history, economics, sociology, literature, poetry and psychology rolled into one.

I think whatever industry you work in, you can get yourself into a bit of an echo chamber, so it’s great to listen to something different – and every single week I come away thinking, ‘I could use that in work’. Often, I find that it’s an idea that I didn't even notice I’d had until I’m driving down the motorway thinking, ‘Actually, I could use that.’

Blog – David Skok’s forentrepreneurs.com

When it comes to blogs, there's so much content for content’s sake and people writing to rank for SEO, but this one you could package up and put into a book and charge hundreds of pounds for it. It’s aimed at people who run any kind of subscription or software business and in terms of the value of what he gives away, it is quite incredible.

David Skok spent a lot of time working out what the ‘golden calculations’ are that you need to be able to hit to demonstrate that you can grow, and he goes into a huge amount of detail. For example, he has a recommendation that the cost to your business to acquire a customer should be no more than a third of that customer's lifetime value. That advice has really helped us hone down on where we're spending our marketing dollars, and it is now a statistic that we watch like a hawk to make sure the costs aren't creeping.

App – Streaks

This is an app for the iPhone and it’s very simple – you can set up to 12 habits or things that you would like to achieve, and you tell it when you’ve done them. One of mine is to read a book for 30 minutes a day, and it charts how well you’re doing. It syncs well with other things, too, so if you’ve got your phone tracking your runs, it will tick that box if running is one of your goals.

It will also suggest things, like ‘Look, you’re regularly running 5km, why not try 6km?’. I've had it about nine months now and have found it to be one of the very few things that I’ve kept using. It has a very clean design and is beautiful to use, and I think as an example of something that got me to change my habits, which I know is very hard. It's been a really good app.

Software – Salesforce

In the early days of Customer Thermometer, everything was done on spreadsheets – lots of really badly strung together ones. Salesforce has freed us from all that, and today it is the backbone of our business. It’s a CRM system, but it’s an awful lot more, too – it does everything from taking the leads that come in off the website and scoring those, through to keeping track of all of our accounts.

It links in with everything, such as Stripe and Recurly, which we use to process our payments, and it links in with our email campaigns, too. We've also got Salesforce Cases which is a ticketing and client-support system, so if you want to look at one individual you can see every ticket they've ever raised, every response we have ever sent, how long they've been a customer, their lifetime value – absolutely everything, and all in one place. It gives me a real finger on the pulse of the business, and because of that I love it.

Customer Thermometer has a 10-strong team based in Brighton. It has a turnover of nearly £2m per year and recently won a Queen’s Award for International Trade.

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Mike Peake is a freelance business journalist, copywriter and SME blogger. He’s written for NatWest, RBS and BBC business across topics such as finance, business advice and luxury lifestyle.

Article updated on: 18 March 2020

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