CX lessons from Slack, Salesforce, Dropbox, WordPress, Help Scout, and Zoho


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This article was originally published here.

The SaaS world is replete with cut-throat competition; the same services are provided by many brands, all of which have wonderful products. In such a scenario, what differentiates one SaaS brand from the other? Customer experience, but of course.

This blog discusses what customer experience lessons one can learn from the best-in-business SaaS brands.

Build a robust customer success team with a focus on the human touch – Slack

Slack needs little introduction. It is one of the most popular collaboration hubs, whereby an organization’s communication is streamlined. Launched in 2014 by Stewart Butterfield, it boasts of being the fastest growing business application ever! It is no mean feat that 65 companies from the Fortune 100 have paid Slack workspaces.

There is no denying that the product is just brilliant. However, the success of Slack, in part, can be attributed to its robust customer success team. The cornerstone of this team is that of building human relationships with customers. Would you believe that the success-testing parameter of this team is not just ticket response times? Its job is not to just respond to queries and reduce the queue. Rather, the team members are evaluated on how, as a team, they respond to queries in a manner as “human” as possible. Little wonder that the customer satisfaction ratings of Slack hover around 97%!

Earlier, we had written a blog on what customer experience lessons one could learn from Slack.  But this trailblazer teaches us newer lessons with each passing day.

Treat your employees like family – Salesforce

Salesforce, the much-led and renowned CRM platform, is the pioneer of SaaS. Founded way back in 1999, Salesforce was found with the vision of replacing the desktop CRM platforms with a cloud-based one that could be accessed from anywhere.

One reason for the huge success of Salesforce is its employees. The organization has consistently been ranked as one of the best to work for. The foundation of Salesforce’s employee engagement program is the concept of Ohana – a Hawaiin word for ‘family.’ The story goes that Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce, was on a holiday to Hawaii, where he was introduced to the concept of Ohana. This is that all families – blood-related, adopted, or otherwise – are intertwined, bound together, and responsible for the success and happiness of each other. This is not just limited to the employees but to all stakeholders – vendors, clients, and partners.

This culture of trust not only empowers employees to succeed in their personal and professional lives but also builds a culture of ownership and responsibility towards the organization. Clearly, the employees feel responsible towards the happiness of their customers, a fact that shows why Salesforce is so loved by its customers.

Solve a problem and keep it simple – Dropbox

Dropbox is the most used file hosting service platform that provides features such as cloud storage, personal cloud, and file synchronization.

Its website proudly says, “We’ve always been obsessed with making work better for people.” And that is truly something that Dropbox has done. It started off by finding a simplistic solution to a problem that was ubiquitous before we all started using Dropbox – how to get all your files from all your devices into one location? Simply create a folder that has all your files and that can be accessed from anywhere at any time. And why wasn’t this created earlier? I really am not sure!

Further, the first thing that impresses a Dropbox user is its simplicity. The app is the epitome of minimalist design – no frills attached, just what is required. Also, its sign up process is extremely simple – one of the reasons for the exponential increase in its users.

Never let the barriers of physical location be a constraint – WordPress and Help Scout

WordPress is the most renowned content management system across the world, powering a lion’s share of the internet. Help Scout, on the other hand, is a help-desk software company that is making massive strides.

WordPress and Help Scout are two of SaaS companies that have one other thing in common apart from the exceptional products – they have a passionate team working remotely from locations across the globe. While Automattic, the parent company of WordPress has a distributed workforce of 700+ employees, Help Scout has just about one-tenth that number. Both the organizations thrive on a culture of transparency and on a belief that creativity flourishes with empowerment.

These two organizations are a testimony to the fact that a passionate workforce, even if not working of the same location, can create amazing and revolutionary products that can change the way in which the world functions.

Invest in training employees – Zoho

Zoho Corporation provides a suite of online tools and solutions for businesses that include a suite of IT management software, and an office tools suite. According to its founder Sridhar Vembu, Zoho provides the broadest and the deepest cloud suite, much bigger than what Microsoft or Google provide. Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Chennai, India, Zoho was earlier called AdventNet Inc. What is remarkable about Zoho is that it is one of the very few successful SaaS companies that is privately owned!

Zoho has an innovative and unique manner of hiring that reinforces that effective training of employees can create the best of the talents. Vembu has believed that the traditional manner of hiring could be ignoring a much larger pool of talented people. To bridge this discrepancy, Zoho has started off a concept called ‘Zoho University’ that, in its initial years, trained students from modest backgrounds. These students, who might not have had an exposure to computers, were trained and within a year, they were on par with college graduates. This is a 24-month program, whereby students are initially taught subjects and subsequently, are moved to teams to gain hands-on experience. What started off as a small experiment with just six students in 2005 has groomed more than 350 students. Currently, students from the Zoho University are significant contributors to the workforce of Zoho and account for around 15% of the new recruits.

This reinforces that employees with the right attitude, when trained appropriately, can help in creating the best of the products.

In an earlier blog post, we had discussed employee engagement lessons from the most successful SaaS organizations. Who are the other trailblazers in this arena that provide us with great learnings? Do leave your comments!

Sonal Jaiswal
I head the content creation team at Customer Guru, a boutique consulting firm that helps its clients become customer-centric. From implementing the best customer experience metric to supporting change management, Customer Guru also sets up the right team structure and processes. Along with consulting, it also specializes in implementing leading customer feedback management tools.


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