Lindsay Willott

Lindsay Willott is a serial entrepreneur. In 2011 she founded Customer Thermometer, a 1click email feedback solution.

The idea was borne whilst she was running her successful marketing agency; response rates for customer surveys were dismally low but the market need for customer insight had never been higher.   With billions of business emails being sent every year, Lindsay identified and developed a unique proposition – an integrated one-click traffic-light survey that customers would happily click, which would then organisations access to real-time customer sentiment across every interaction.

With Customer Thermometer’s response rates often achieving 70+%, it’s no wonder that the company is having huge success. It now has over 1,500 customers across 60+ countries. Its customers range from startups to the biggest brands in the world, including Fortune 500 and FTSE100 companies and brands such as Sonos, Dollar Shave Club, Glossier, Catbird and Leica. It has partnerships in place with over 50 helpdesks, CRM and Professional Services Automation providers, including Salesforce, Zendesk, ServiceNow and ConnectWise.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

In 2011 I founded Customer Thermometer, a 1-click email feedback solution. The idea was borne whilst I was running a marketing agency; response rates for customer surveys were dismally low but the market need for customer insight had never been higher.   With billions of business emails being sent every year, I  developed a unique proposition – an integrated one-click traffic-light survey that customers would happily click, which would then organisations access to real-time customer sentiment across every interaction.

Customer Thermometer now has over 1,500 customers across 60+ countries. Customers range from startups to the biggest brands in the world, including Fortune 500 and FTSE100 companies and brands such as BT, Lands’ End, Glossier, Catbird and Leica.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I went to university to study English & American Literature, with the belief that I would pursue a career in publishing. However, due to the rise in digital publishing the book market was tough to enter. I looked at some tangential industries and started a graduate scheme in the marketing division at a listed software firm.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

One of my biggest challenges came with that very first job. At the tender age of 24 I had to take redundancy with zero warning as the firm I was working for became embroiled in an accounting scandal.

It was the making of me. An ex-colleague and I realised there was space in the market for a new kind of technology marketing agency. The risks were low so we  went for it and steadily we built one of the most successful B2B marketing agencies in the UK.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I’d have to say it’s been going to Buckingham palace earlier this year to collect our Queen’s Award for Enterprise. It really is the most prestigious award for UK businesses and we are incredibly proud. We won in the category of International Trade in recognition for our exporting success and international trading strategy – in the last three years the company has grown its export turnover by 300%.

The win really is testament to the hard work of the whole Customer Thermometer team, who each go above and beyond to live our brand of customer-centric service.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Surrounding myself with clever people – I believe that you should always look to hire people brighter and better than you – and if you meet someone brilliant then find a role for them.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Ah I have some top tips that I also try and live by myself:

  • Be enthusiastic about your company and where it’s going
  • Be hyper curious about your customers and their industries
  • Stay current – keep learning and don’t stay still
  • Be accountable for your stuff

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes, and they are culturally and mentally ingrained. There may be some inroads being made but we have a really long way to go – along the whole journey – from removing gender connotations of subjects being chosen at schools, to empowering role models, to addressing unconscious bias in the Board room.

What do you think companies can do to progress the careers of women working in technology?

The biggest issue in my opinion is getting them in the first place. It’s something we have done well – over 75% of our company’s workforce is female. To achieve this, you have to rethink your recruitment strategy and look beyond classic job sites. Look for people in the real world, talk to people and make sure that they can be trained on the job, so you aren’t dissuading some potential great candidates by saying you need skills that you can easily teach via shadowing/ mentoring schemes.

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I think more employers should have technical apprentice type schemes, that they can only fill with candidates with no technical experience, which means you’ll have a much richer diversity of backgrounds and be contributing to the wider growth in technical expertise at the same time.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Ah I am a content junkie, so I have lots of recommendations! One of the best books I read about learning from your mistakes is: “the hard thing about hard things” by Ben Horowitz‎ –  I learnt so much about turning a negative into a positive. I also loved “how to own the room” by Viv Groskop; it really changed my life and I recommend it to anyone who is nervous about public speaking. On an ongoing basis I find Tim Ferris’s podcasts very motivational and I for a bit of inspirational randomness I listen to “In Our Time” on BBC Radio 4.