Ever wondered how to use customer feedback to build world-beating software and become a household name? Then you’ve come to the right place.
It's true that there are many different kinds of SaaS leadership style, but if there's one thing that's tried and true, capturing the voice of the customer is always gonna is always going to give your SaaS data a major boost! 💪
At the Future of SaaS Festival 2021, Jahed Momand, Head of Customer Insights at Typeform, led this fascinating discussion on using customer insights to develop outstanding SaaS solutions for the new remote era.
Jahad was joined by Joe Vachon, Enterprise Customer Success Manager at Zoom, and Corinne Goldberg, Customer Success Manager at Slack, who shared what they had learned about implementing customer feedback to create some of the world’s leading B2B products.
The whole fascinating discussion is available on demand right here, but as a little taster, we’ve compiled some of the top highlights from the conversation right here:
Dive in and refine your SaaS leadership skills!
- Why have this conversation?
- Adapting to changes
- Gathering the data
- Acting on insights
- Leveraging the data
But first things first, let’s establish the purpose of this discussion. 👇
Why should we be having this conversation?
Jahed Momand: Post-pandemic, we've had to rapidly develop tools for how we communicate, how we work together, and the new model of work that’s being forged in front of us.
We've had a little bit of a chance to adapt to this remote setting at Typeform. And our two experts in this discussion can really provide us with some expert insights on which tools to utilize.
So if you’re thinking, “How do I plug the gaps between the various customer-facing functional groups in my business? I need to drive expansion and reduce churn for my SaaS products,” this should be an interesting conversation for you.
What kind of changes have you had to make to adapt to this new demand and better engage with your customers?
Joe Vachon: There's been tremendous growth. I'm coming in near the tail end here at Zoom.
We got catapulted into the stratosphere, and not just at a local or domestic level, but literally at a global level. Any gaps in the workforce had to be filled and filled quickly. And it’s not just about hiring talent, but finding and cultivating the right talent.
A lot of new systems have been put into place too, and a lot of building has been done along the way. Many of the new systems are around looking at information data and how it's collected. I can't think of being a CSM without tools that help collect that information.
That data is how I work collectively with my account executives and outreach people.
Our aim is to ensure that when we talk to customers, we're targeting the right ones and going after the right pieces of information. This is gonna help us uncover either something that's untapped or a problem that we weren’t aware of.
I will also say that a lot of us talk about “the new normal.” I call it the “now normal” because the now is here, and the now is always changing.
Where we thought we would be now is not where we are, and where we think we're gonna be in six months may not be where we wind up. Constantly being able to adjust and flex is so important.
Corinne Goldberg: Joe, you raised some really great points. We're all trying to figure out what the new normal is and how it fits in this new hybrid world that we're living in.
I think Slack has been really fortunate to have experienced pretty substantial adoption of the platform. It’s probably been similar in many ways to Zoom’s tremendous growth and strong retention.
The pandemic has created this new demand for tools that enable employees to work remotely, and many businesses have looked to Slack as one of those tools.
So I'll just share two approaches that we've launched here at Slack to better engage our customers in this new normal or this “now normal.”
We're fortunate at Slack to be in this stage of maturity as a software business where we can enable customers from a product perspective, as well as a thought leadership perspective.
From a product perspective, our product board has responded to the market need for meetings with voice and video, in-screen recordings, and lightweight audio. We're calling these meetings
Huddles, and customers are now able to use them to build a world-class digital HQ in Slack.
And then from a thought leadership perspective, we've also recognized a market need from our customers to figure out hybrid work and bring leaders together to talk about the challenges and opportunities that all of these different organizations are facing.
We launched a Slack-backed think tank or consortium called the Future Forum, and that's an opportunity for us to bring customers together for roundtables and discussions about the future of work and share some of the research.
As far as data goes, we recognize that customer success for our marketing org needs to be intentional and proactive in the way that we use data in this new remote world.
This is in large part because we don't have the benefit of in-person interactions or hallway conversations with our customers that might have given us a really strong pulse on risk and opportunity.
How do you typically gather the data that you use to enhance your platforms?
Corinne Goldberg: It's been really fascinating to be part of an organization that's created a new category. We call it “channel-based collaboration.” Here at Slack, we collaborate exclusively on our platform.
We don't really use email, either internally or with our customers. And so for that reason, we lean a lot more into live signals that we pipe directly into Slack.
We have built Signals, which takes advantage of our adoption and maturity data and can tell us when there are spikes in Slack adoption and when there has been deep provisioning of the platform.
It also shows us when the customer visits our pricing page so that we can take action on those insights immediately.
Signals has, in many ways, replaced what might formerly have been learned through conversations with customers.
These insights are piped directly into Slack’s internal account channel so that sales, product, and marketing all have visibility into those sorts of indicators, and then can action them accordingly.
Joe Vachon: At Zoom, we've launched our community page where we're getting a lot of feedback from customers because your best source of really good information about what the next release or patch or update should come from your customers.
Having that community page, allowing people to come out, ask questions, and produce information, creates cohesion in that partnership.
Taking that information from the community page makes it even more actionable. Because of where it's coming from, it’s clear that we need to do something with it.
And so a lot of the improvements over the last year-plus have come from interactions between the CS organization and customers, through direct feedback, conversations, and submittals. This is all tracked through Jira and Productboard.
We’ve developed a lot of enhancements lately, and they're not just around Zoom with meetings. There’s also Zoom Phone, Zoom Chat, Zoom with the whiteboard features, and translation services – everything that customers are asking for.
But how do we know that this is what the customer needs? We know thanks to the insights and use cases that customers give us. If they say “I would like a translation service,” we want to know more.
When we have more context around why that live translation service from English to another language is so important, we get an idea of where this lies in the importance hierarchy for our customers.
Collecting this feedback in a way that we can manage and then deliver as a product is really our lifeblood, and it can really boost your entire UCaaS solution globally.
How do you ensure that new insights aren’t lost and that it's acted upon as soon as possible?
Corinne Goldberg: For us at Slack, and in CS specifically, there are a couple of tools that have worked pretty well.
If a new feature request is coming in from a customer, we want to make sure that product management sees that.
I'd say leaning on channel-based collaboration for the way that we share information with relevant departments has really been vital to ensure that we get that information to the people who need to action on it most.
We have channels for different features where we can share a feature request directly with the product team. We can iterate on that live, and we have transparency because the channels are public.
So, you have various departments that can access that information and see whether or not the product team is actioning on a feature request.
So, bringing visibility through channel-based collaboration has been a really positive way for us to reduce information silos.
How can we leverage customer data insights to empower customer success, sales, and marketing?
Corinne Goldberg: For businesses that are using Slack, the natural recommendation that comes to my mind is creating a channel taxonomy that works for you and that reflects the way your business collaborates with different cross-functional partners.
Channel-based collaboration for us here at Slack has been monumental in being able to virtually eliminate information silos.
Joe Vachon: From an internal perspective, never underestimate the power and value of your internal network. I’m not just talking about your immediate network for that account, but your network throughout the entire organization.
One key executive can make all the difference to how your solution is viewed. You could have the best solution under the sun, but if that one person in your organization is not a fan or doesn’t understand the value of your solution, that can nix it right then and there.
And so really thinking about what that key team looks like, being thoughtful and taking time to meet with them, can be invaluable.
Externally, if you're a customer and you're looking to get the best value out of a product, engage the CSM.
We're here to make you look like champions; we're here to make you look like the people who are going to bring that solution into your organization, make it successful, and create the value proposition.
And if you don't understand or you think you're missing something, simply ask the question because we're here to help you.