An interview with Pascal van Opzeeland, CEO of Userlike
We sit down with Pascal van Opzeeland, CEO of Userlike. Userlike offers live chat software for websites & mobile apps. It enables on-site communication between website visitors and the service team.
How did you end up at Userlike and what problem does Userlike solve for its clients?
I started Userlike back in 2011. Userlike helps businesses get closer to their customers by introducing modern ways of communication – through website chat, WhatsApp & co, and AI chatbots.
As the CEO, what are your main responsibilities at Userlike?
To keep the overview and communicate that bigger picture to the rest of the organization. To work together with the department heads to set out and execute our strategy. To safeguard our culture – making sure we display the right behaviors. And to firefight, meaning to go to whatever area requires my help or decision-making.
What role does your C-level team play when it comes to organising, operating and improving your growth funnel?
They work quite closely together, but this is something we have had to work on over the past two years. Before, they were more operating as separate units. Our marketing team is responsible for driving demand in the market – making people interested enough to sign up for a trial or demo, and/or making it more easy for a sales reps to pitch our solution. Marketing generates MQLs in the forms of trial signups, demo requests, whitepaper downloads, webinar registrations, etc. Sales reaches out to these MQLs, but at the same time we have marketing automations that keep on running. So it's a mix.
At ColdFire, when we look at our clients' Growth strategies, they vary greatly. Some have found a single, scalable client acquisition process while others thrive on a mix of top-of-funnel strategies. If you had to summarise the high-level LeadGen strategy of Userlike, what would it be?
For us, it's about expanding our acquisition channels in ways that they complement each other. For years, we have been focused on inbound – ensuring the businesses find us when they search for a solution like ours. This has been successful for us, as we've grown into Germany's leading chat solution. However, with this channel at some point you reach a growth plateau, and you need to diversify your acquisition channels. We do that through a combination of demand generation and outbound. Related to the current economic headwinds: We are lucky to have a product that not only increases sales (which was our focus over the past decade), but which also offers a much more efficient way of communication. Especially through the recent AI breakthroughs. So we didn’t have to change our product strategy drastically, but we have been changing our messaging, putting more focus on cost efficiency. Going where the market goes. This has worked.
What is a Growth technique that you've used at Userlike or at previous companies which you believe is underutilized at most C-level teams - and why?
Growing through your customer base. Focusing on your customers, telling their stories, what brought them to you, how they got started, what they achieved. Most companies still don’t do this enough. And when they do, they often do it in a boring way. It pays to get really good at telling your customers' stories.
Growth can happen using marketing and product development. Which has worked better for Userlike and why do you think that is?
I would say that is still awareness. Mostly because our product has been expanding, from a pure website chat solution to an omni-messaging solution and recently a big AI extension. So people don’t associate our brand with these new areas yet. That's what we are focusing on to improve.