How Benchling achieves scientific breakthroughs via efficiency
When it comes to biotech R&D, prioritizing collaboration and customer needs is essential.
product managers and field members enabled
More than 200,000 scientists across Fortune 500 biotech companies, startups and academic institutions build on Benchling, the biology-first platform for scientific data, collaboration, and insights. With its R&D Cloud, Benchling makes it possible for today’s scientists to design and develop next generation biologics, collaborate on high throughput experiments, and ultimately get their breakthrough products to market quickly.
For Mike Taylor, Benchling’s head of product operations, helping scientists make discoveries every day isn’t just professionally fulfilling – it’s personal. He’s seen advancement after advancement throughout the last decade of his mom’s stage 4 cancer treatment.
“When she first got diagnosed with cancer, she’d have to go into the facility and go through the whole experience for her chemo, and now, she takes a single pill,” he says. “And that’s what our customers do – they’re on the cutting edge of science.”
One of Benchling’s differentiators is connection. The company’s customers rely on Benchling as a central source of truth for all of their scientific experiments and analysis, since the product facilitates ease of data sharing and collaboration across multiple teams in the R&D process. These customers are on the cutting edge of scientific discovery – working on mRNA vaccines, cell and gene therapies to cure cancer, and next-gen sustainable foods. And they depend on Benchling’s solutions and continuous product innovation.
Connection is also an important part of how Benchling operates internally. The company knows that tools that prioritize collaboration and transparency are critical to maintaining its edge. Mike’s product operations team recognized the need for a unified solution that could centralize key workflows across product development so that all teams – from product to engineering to customer success – could rely on the same information.
Along with Benchling product operations managers Ian Fischer and Zach Fricke, Mike turned to Airtable to help the team get up and running quickly to manage their product development lifecycle. The onboarding was seamless, and the team saw an immediate impact.
For one, sharing their product roadmap in Airtable has made it easy for cross-functional teams to see what's happening and why certain projects are prioritized. Managing product releases in Airtable has also aligned go-to-market (GTM) teams on communication and launch plans to keep pace with Benchling’s ambitious product launch schedule, as well as a beta program to continuously test new features with customers.
The team wanted to create strong processes to track customer feedback and use cases as part of Benchling’s beta program. It was important that real-time feedback and analytics on product usage was collected and accessible to multiple teams, all in one place. Previously, processes involved a product manager (PM) jumping on Slack, starting a Google sheet, tracking down the relevant customer success manager (CSM), and then having a conversation about potential customers and use cases. But after moving this process to Airtable, Zach has centralized these conversations so that PMs and CSMs can collaborate better with all relevant customer information in one place.
Meanwhile, Ian built a product feedback app in Airtable that uses forms and automations to not only collect feedback, but ensure that the right people see and respond to it. This ensures customers get the timely answers they need.
In this app, anyone in Benchling can submit feedback through a form, which then gets directly sent to the relevant PM’s queue. PMs review and respond to feedback within a certain timeframe by adding tags, comments, and status updates – which then triggers a Slack notification to the original submitter. Submitters get to see context – such as whether the feedback is already a part of the product roadmap – and relay this back to the customer.
This way, Benchling makes informed, prompt decisions based on what they’re hearing from customers. It also ensures customers are both heard and encouraged to submit more feedback in the future, creating what Ian refers to as the product feedback flywheel.
Already, they’ve tracked high engagement with the app across the organization, increasing visits between their 300 PMs and field members alike. With so many people actively using the same app, the product operations team can rest assured that no piece of customer feedback is left uncaptured. In the last year, they’ve logged thousands of pieces of individual product feedback in Airtable and resolved 81% of all feedback, improving on a product that places no limits on what its customers can achieve to change the world.
With customer feedback for Benchling’s ambitious pipeline of product launches easier to access and manage, the team has a greater understanding of their customers’ needs. With the volume of feedback expected to grow over the coming years alongside company growth, Benchling knows AI will likely play a larger role in product operations. By auto-triaging feedback, summarizing it across accounts, and identifying trending themes, Ian sees Airtable AI saving PMs time they’d otherwise spend manually categorizing feedback. It would also empower product managers to make faster and more informed decisions.
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“As we continue to scale customers and users, there’s an increasing amount of noise that’s generated – most of it useful,” Ian says. “We could definitely leverage a natural language processing model to turn that into quick insights that we can review with the product team.”
In Airtable, Benchling has found a source of truth that quickly streamlines feedback, reduces manual processes, and drives cross-functional collaboration and visibility across the entire company, ensuring that teams have everything they need to put their customers first.
When every scientific advancement has the potential to change lives, there’s no time to waste.