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Case Study: Customersure Provides Customers With Reliable Customer Feedback Services, Thanks to Engine Yard


Industry: Computer Software
Location: Newcastle, UK

One of the reasons we are successful is we don’t surprise our customers with downtime—we try to be boring.
- Chris Stainthorpe, Co-Founder and Customer Feedback Nerd, CustomerSure

Customer Profile

CustomerSure is a software company that helps companies measure customer experience and improve customer satisfaction. The best way to improve satisfaction and build customer loyalty is to address customer concerns right away. CustomerSure’s software-as-a-service solution offers immediate transactional feedback and analytics to help its customers improve overall customer satisfaction while  helping call centers and customer service teams meet their KPIs. The service goal of CustomerSure is to be boring; they strive for flawless online execution and don’t want to surprise their customers with service interruptions or unexpected downtime. That’s why CustomerSure relies on Engine Yard to keep its systems stable and provide a reliable foundation for continued growth.

CustomerSure is headquartered in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, England.


In 2010, Guy Letts, Chris Stainthorpe, and Luke Brown decided to apply their software expertise to solve a problem that was plaguing companies in all markets—how to improve  customer satisfaction. All three were experienced software developers, including working for the largest software company in the United Kingdom. While their software expertise was extensive, they lacked server administration expertise, an essential component for any software-as-a-service provider. As they started to develop their plan for CustomerSure, they also started to consider enterprise hosting strategies, and potential enterprise partners.

Currently, CustomerSure delivers customer satisfaction surveys and analysis that provides actionable data, including customer ratings, trends, and customer comments. The automated feedback process pushes data from a company’s CRM platform or other application to the CustomerSure API, to trigger a satisfaction survey. Surveys can be scheduled for delivery following product delivery, immediately on completion of a call center interaction, when a trouble ticket is closed, or even when prospects drop out of the sales funnel. The service is completely customizable and designed to return a high response rate. The results provide layers of detail, including analytics that can be invaluable to marketing, sales, customer support, and senior management.

Since the CustomerSure automated system is designed to deliver and collate survey data at any time and of any volume, the enterprise infrastructure must be robust and perform seamlessly. As Stainthorpe explains it, CustomerSure’s need isn’t complicated but it does demand reliability. The company began in 2010 with a single server, and while the in-house engineering team was confident of their own software, they needed expert assistance as their needs grew to include additional web servers, backup systems, staging hardware, and more.

Engine Yard proved to be the ideal partner to provide the scalable infrastructure and outstanding support that CustomerSure needed to ensure flawless service delivery.

The Opportunity

Once the CustomerSure engineering team finalized the go-to-market plan, they knew that they needed a stable hosting environment so they could focus on their core business. Since all the CustomerSure cofounders had a background in software development, they understood the need for a reliable production platform with rich capabilities and proven performance. Adopting a platform based on Ruby on Rails seemed logical, since Rails had already proven its capabilities with megasites such as Basecamp and Airbnb, and Engine Yard was clearly a leader in providing Ruby on Rails hosting and support. Since starting to work with Engine Yard in 2010, the CustomerSure team has never regretted their decision or looked back.

According to Stainthorpe, the company did consider other hosting options such as Heroku, but they knew they would get more personalized and more responsive service from Engine Yard. Just as CustomerSure provides consulting as part of its software-as-a-service offering, they wanted a hosting partner who would take the time to learn about the demands of their environment and provide the necessary guidance.

Stainthorpe uses the analogy of hiring a good accountant versus a poor accountant. Both types of accounting service will help you with tax compliance but the good accountant will work to understand your business, present you with different options and explain the pros and cons of each. While some companies prefer the “black box” approach to hosting, CustomerSure wanted a more responsive, high-quality service provider that could customize the hosting environment to meet their needs. By working with Engine Yard, they didn’t have to worry about wasted resources, since the Engine Yard team helped structure hosting in the most cost-efficient manner.

The Results

Since engaging Engine Yard eight years ago, CustomerSure has seen nothing but reliable service, no matter what the circumstances, and some instances  have demonstrated the real value of engaging the experts at Engine Yard. For example, when one of CustomerSure’s customers ran an ad during the Super Bowl, the result was a deluge of online traffic and customer surveys. Despite the tidal wave of service requests, the Engine Yard Ruby-on Rails infrastructure performed flawlessly.

“The line between application development and hosting can be fuzzy,” said Stainthorpe, and there have been occasions when CustomerSure’s software needed additional troubleshooting from the hosting side. Unlike other Rails hosting providers, Stainthorpe found that the Engine Yard’s engineers are always available to help. These are just two examples:

CustomerSure continually updates its software and on one occasion, the latest software update didn’t work when it was pushed to pre-production. Since the new code worked perfectly in development, it wasn’t obvious where the problem lay. The CustomerSure developers contacted Engine Yard for assistance; they soon discovered that between the development environment and deployment, a single blank space had been inserted in a configuration file, and the problem was quickly corrected.

In another instance, CustomerSure engineers encountered a problem with emojis. End users were starting to use emojis in survey responses and the data wasn’t being properly translated when it was collated. As it turned out, the database wasn’t recognizing emoji symbols; the database settings were correct in the development environment but hadn’t been modified in the production environment. With assistance from Engine Yard, the problem was isolated and corrected in a matter of hours.

Engine Yard has been an instrumental part of helping CustomerSure expand its business. Stainthorpe notes that Engine Yard has a deep technical knowledge and hires global experts so you can reach people who have answers to your questions. The Engine Yard team also understands the difference between mission-critical and “nice-to-have” features, which means they are there to provide support when they are needed.

Perhaps most importantly, CustomerSure has never had to challenge Engine Yard or their service since the business was launched. Engine Yard is always there as a silent partner, providing the kind of reliability that you take for granted over time. After all, Engine Yard’s mission is similar to that of CustomerSure, to “be boring” by continuing to deliver business-critical services without disruption or surprises.

About Engine Yard

For more than a decade, companies have relied on Engine Yard to keep their online operations running flawlessly. Engine Yard is one of the most trusted names in Ruby on Rails development, deploying and managing business-critical apps for customers in the cloud. In fact, Engine Yard was founded by leaders in the Rails open source community, and the company’s team of Rails support engineers continually receive a 98 percent satisfaction rating from customers.


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