21 Questions with Keen’s President Kirstin Hoefer
By: Keen's Community Team
March 7, 2022
Recently, Kirstin Hoefer joined us as President of Keen. We sat down with Kirstin to get to know her better and learn more about how she plans to support our Advisor Community and the company’s goals overall.
To make things fun, we thought we could play a little game of 21 Questions. Read on to learn more about Kirstin from her past experiences, approach to business decisions, and even her favorite dessert.
1. How would you describe your job in one sentence?
I work with a smart, diverse, and conscientious team to support and grow an online marketplace where we connect consumers seeking advice on life’s most important topics with advisors who provide wisdom and guidance.
2. What were you doing before Keen?
I started my career leading product management teams at large public companies (Excite@Home, eBay), then bridged to CMO, and ultimately COO, at several high-growth start-ups (SunRun, Core Wellness). My six years at eBay were impactful in shaping my people-first leadership approach and taught me to value the customer experience, which I think is especially important when your goal is to support both sides of a marketplace.
Most recently, I was Chief Operating Officer at Core Wellness, Inc., a meditation startup that pairs an app with a handheld meditation device. There, I led marketing, customer experience, and operations, steering the company from pre product launch to our first millions in sales. I’m proud of our growth, and how many customers we could help support through COVID. We successfully sold Core to Hyperice in late 2021, and then I found Keen!
3. You have an impressive background. What do you hope to bring to your new role at Keen that worked well in your past digital marketplace experience?
Balance. In a marketplace, we have the unique challenge of supporting two different customer audiences. Ideally, those customer audiences want the same thing, which I believe is true the majority of the time at Keen: our consumers with questions want to find advisors with answers. Occasionally, our audiences want different things, and it’s our job to balance the needs of both sides. I look for the win-win for both groups, while having the most positive impact on the business overall.
4. Have you had a psychic reading before on Keen?
I wasn’t a habitual Keen user before joining, but I was excited to try it out during my interview process, and even asked about my job search. From my first call with an advisor (shout out Best Psychic Laura), I found the fresh perspective and guidance helpful. I still try to speak with a different advisor a couple times a month so I can better understand our offering.
5. What has been your takeaway so far after your first couple of readings?
I’ve only had 5-star experiences, and really appreciate the thoughtfulness and wisdom I’ve received. I look forward to doing many more. In general I think one of the best ways to understand your customer base is to become one yourself. This is a helpful practice to understand firsthand what works well and where we can spend more time enhancing the customer experience.
6. It's been a little over a month since you officially joined Keen, what has been the most surprising thing to you so far?
The length of time that our most loyal customers and advisors have been on Keen - some have been here over 20 years! I’m amazed and heartened by the bonds that customers and advisors make with each other. I know the team is working on more ways to show our appreciation and celebrate milestones with our community, which is something I believe in wholeheartedly.
7. What’s one thing you believe everyone should make a habit of in their work?
Set aside time to think. I can get caught up in the endless list of to-do's myself, and while this is important, making space by blocking off time to brainstorm or research is equally valuable for people to feel empowered to make the right decisions for their business. Productivity is not just about checking off boxes, but making sure you have the right boxes on your list.
8. As a business leader, you are in a position that requires big decisions to be made. What is your process for approaching and making impactful decisions?
I believe there can be a misconception that the person with the highest title is making all the business decisions. While I know there will be times that I am needed to make the final call or keep us focused, I find I can bring the most value by asking the right questions to my team. There are a lot of smart people working on Keen each day. I trust them and value a collaborative approach to solving high level problems. From a practical standpoint, I always consider the 5 C’s - Customer, Context, Connective Tissue, Cost and Consequences.
9. Connective tissue is an interesting one - could you elaborate a bit more on that?
Sure. For example, when I think about our roadmap and what we prioritize, I like to consider what other initiatives are in flight, our customer experience, and our longer term product vision and strategy. Everything is interconnected, and I want to encourage the team to consider how decisions can impact our marketplace with the goal to bring the most value overall.
10. We have all heard a lot about the importance of retention for businesses to be successful at any stage. How would you say advisors on Keen should be thinking of customer retention?
It’s important for each advisor to run their business in the way that works best for them and that means thinking about retention as it relates to personal goals. There are some advisors who have their regular customers and that’s enough for them. There are other advisors who prefer to focus on building new customer relationships by opting into promotions and inviting new customers back to speak with them sooner. Regardless of approach, all advisors should be thinking about how they can deliver a kind, valuable and personalized experience in each customer interaction.
11. What are you the most excited to work on in 2022 to help drive growth for Keen?
For Keen, I am excited to bring a fresh perspective to the work we do to support professionals who provide advice and guidance to thousands of people each day on our platform. From a corporate perspective, I am excited to relieve Warren Heffelfinger (Ingenio’s CEO) of the more tactical day-to-day decisions on Keen so he can focus on our next big growth opportunity.
12. Could you give us a teaser of what this big growth opportunity might be?
Absolutely! We have a lot of interest in expanding internationally both in new languages and new markets. Psychic guidance, wellness coaching, and life advice is very in demand and we see a lot of untapped possibilities to support people around the world to achieve their highest potential through emotional clarity.
13. How can advisors give you their feedback?
I am a big believer in feedback and learning how we can keep getting better together. The best way for me to see feedback from our Advisor Community is through the NPS survey that we email out on a quarterly basis. The next one will be sent March 30, 2022. I promise to read every single response.
14. For those who may be new here, what does NPS mean?
NPS stands for Net Promoter Score. This type of survey includes the same numerically-scaled question to gauge overall advisor satisfaction over time by asking how likely they are to refer Keen to their network. What I love about our survey is that we always leave space for open-ended feedback which helps me understand on a deeper level what problem areas may need to be addressed and how we can continue providing a stellar service for our community. Recognizing our advisors are busy, our hope too is that it’s easier and more efficient to weigh in once a quarter vs one off over email.
15. How can advisors reach you directly?
This is a great question and, while I don’t have a direct line that advisors can reach me at personally, I partner with the Community team to get a pulse on how advisors are feeling. As I mentioned earlier, I trust our teams to do good work and balance the sometimes conflicting priorities that come with every marketplace. I encourage advisors to use our Customer Support form when they want to get in touch and have their voices heard.
Just for Fun
16. What is your zodiac sign?
I’m a Taurus and was born under the Year of the Rooster
17. Could you describe yourself in one word?
18. If you had to choose, what would your Advisor name be on Keen?
19. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Definitely a night owl, and I adore sleeping in.
20. What’s your favorite dessert?
Chocolate anything, and my mom’s homemade strawberry rhubarb pie.
21. If you could pick one song to get you motivated for your work day, what would it be?
Brave by Sara Bareilles