Winning With Data: Superside
Welcome to the first article in our new column “Winning With Data”. This column is set to feature some of the most interesting and inspiring data success stories that we can get our hands-on. How are forward-thinking businesses accessing and implementing data, what benefits have they realized and how can you employ the knowledge they’ve earned in your own business? We’ll answer these questions and a whole lot more.
For this piece, we were granted exclusive access to one of the main brains behind Superside; COO and Co-Founder, Haakon Heir. Based in Palo Alto and California, Superside is an on-demand outsourcing platform for business tasks. Companies can submit a task and have qualified, pre-vetted freelancers, working on their project in just 30 minutes. As a long time Kloudio user, Superside is leading the pack in terms of extracting maximum value from data, throughout the business. So we asked Haakon a few questions about how Superside’s relationship with data.
In what business functions is data the most valuable to Superside?
Data is vital in all Superside’s business functions. Within Operations, we use data to evaluate people’s performance, from recruiting to peer feedback, client feedback, process execution, quality of communication, and so on. We measure our overall operational success with data on operational conversion, repurchase, NPS (Net Promoter Score), the amount of time required to execute various processes/steps in our services, and much more.
Our marketing is focussed primarily on Adwords and content-driven SEO, so data is, of course, crucial. Adwords is integrated with our back-end, so we can do conversion and basket size optimization, as well as CLV estimations per product, product category, etc. when we optimize. When it comes to tech, the importance of data is obvious. We optimize our website by using data on absolutely everything.
How has data changed the way Superside thinks about / executes those business functions?
As a young company, we’ve been data-driven since the beginning. So it hasn’t had the chance to drive any fundamental changes. As we collect more data and gain access to new data sources, though, we’re using it to ensure that we are continuously improving and developing in the right areas and in the right direction. In operations, for instance, we use data to optimize monetary incentives for our staff. We’ve changed and fine-tuned our incentive structures as we’ve collected more and better data. It has completely transformed the company from where we were two years ago.
Many executives believe that making decisions based purely on data is dangerous. Do you agree and if so/not, why?
“Purely” is a very strong term. I think that can be dangerous, yes. There are so many cases and situations where sufficient data just isn’t available, or where it’s almost impossible to ensure that the data is of high enough quality to inform a good decision. Even though we strive to be data-driven, we still value instinct and gut feel in our decision making.
The time it takes to get statistically significant and valid data can vary hugely depending on the size and nature of the business, and no company that is dependent on fast decision making can always afford to wait. I think, if you make 100% of decisions based on high-quality data, you either won’t make enough decisions, or you’re overestimating your data quality. Secondly, if you only look at data, never actually talk to your clients or your people, or touch your product hands-on, it’s difficult to realize when you’re basing decisions on the wrong data.
Finally, and especially when dealing with data on your team’s performance, it is essential to take a look under the hood and be hands-on. There will always be noise and long-tail incidents that require a deeper insight than what numbers can provide. At the end of the day, you can’t blame bad decisions on the data.
UX and the overall brand experience is more important than ever. Does data inform Superside’s approach to UI design and/or planning and refining the customer journey?
Yes, we use heatmaps in addition to other extensive tracking tools on our website, and data on customer communication, service execution, and customer satisfaction and retention to continuously improve the customer journey.
Has data ever yielded really surprising insights?
Sometimes yes. We’ve had several surprising insights in terms of how incentives actually change staff behavior. How client behavior correlates with their journey to finding and using Superside.
How important is ensuring the quality and validity of data to Superside?
Very important. In addition to working hard to ensure we’re collecting as much data as possible. We spend a lot of time validating important data. Avoiding or adjusting for biases, and checking to ensure that we’re not being misled by outliers in small data sets.
How has using Kloudio impacted the way that Superside accesses and uses data?
Kloudio has made data much more accessible to everyone in the organization. Before we started using Kloudio, only the tech-savvy people in the team and those that had the time to dig it out could really access and use our data. Now everyone can do that. Anyone can now view just the data relevant to their query through numerous dashboards, charts, and tables that we’ve made with Kloudio and google sheets.
We’ve also set up integrations that take the data from Google Sheets. Automatically send it to Slack, Gmail, and other systems that we use. Data has become a much larger part of everyone’s workday. Not just the senior decision-makers, but absolutely every one. We’ve also adopted a completely new way of building ‘MVPs’ of new functionality before we actually build them into our internal systems. This lets us test out a lot more new functions and features than before, and gives us the chance to adjust, optimize and prioritize more effectively before we build them into our project and account management systems.
Until next time…