CX Stories

What can we learn about Customer Experience Excellence from Slack?

Written by Vivek Jaiswal | Co-founder, Customer Guru

Who would have thought that there is more to an office communicator until Slack was born?

By now everyone knows what Slack is, so I am going to skip the introduction (if you are still wondering, here’s your quick intro to Slack).

According to data from financial information firm Pitchbook, Slack became the fastest start-up company to reach a $2 billion valuation. It reached the milestone before its two-year anniversary, at a rate faster than companies such as Twitter and Uber.

While there are many reasons why the company has and is experiencing this exponential growth, one of the biggest reasons is its focus on customer experience. The co-founder Stewart Butterfield and CMO Bill Macaitis are known for their laser focus on being customer-centric. When the product was in its beta-stage, Butterfield and the other co-founders ensured that they took every feedback as an opportunity to make their product better.

Slack’s fun to use, and simple enough to get addicted to. We are a user and a fan, and as a customer experience company, we are learning a lot from Slack’s monumental success story. Here are some inspiring lessons on Customer Experience Excellence that every organisation can adopt from this young organisation:

When Customer Experience is at the core, it shows

Bill Macaitis openly shares that customer experience is the second biggest group employed at Slack. Their focus on customer experience is so profound that even engineers need to take turns serving in a customer support role. Here’s how Slack ensures everyone is onboard their customer-centric culture:

It is obvious that this organisation is pretty serious about customer experience!

Every interaction with the customer counts

You get a great experience right from the time you start signing up. Slack’s user onboarding and getting the entire team on it is so fluid that it’s difficult to resist! Within a few minutes, you’d have your whole team signed up and sharing on Slack. That’s the sign of exceptional customer experience – people can’t tell it while it’s happening, but they can’t stop talking about it once it’s over. It’s memorable.

To drive the point home, we’d like to quote Bill Macaitis from his recent article on Mashable:…a brand is the sum of every experience a customer has with your company, and a strong brand will always generate long-term growth and revenue. It’s important to think about the entire customer lifecycle and relentlessly improve the interactions customers have with your company.

Customer experience and growth should not be viewed as competing forces or a zero sum game. A great customer experience will yield happy customers who recommend you more. Additionally, word of mouth recommendations are usually the best converting lead sources.

Be open to feedback and adapt quickly

Stewart Butterfield started off to build a massive online multiplayer game, but eventually ended up building Slack. Some might call it a side project, but it soon became the centre of everything that the team was doing. From day 1 they were extremely open to feedback and as the size of their user base increased, they discovered new ways to help teams collaborate. All of it being built with constant feedback from early users. It is like a love story between a product and it’s users.

Undoubtedly, Slack has been extremely fastidious about gathering customer feedback, working on it and ensuring that the problems are sorted. Quoting Butterfield, “If you put that all together, we probably get 8,000 Zendesk help tickets and 10,000 tweets per month, and we respond to all of them.” Responding to ALL the tweets?! Is that not amazing for a company that is just getting started? Moreover, in the initial days, Butterfield responded to a majority of the tweets himself, setting the perfect example for how the founders can ingrain customer centricity in an organization’s DNA.

Instead of feeling burdened by the feedback, Butterfield and the other co-founders ensured that they took every feedback as an opportunity to make their product better.

Slack is the quintessential example of a start-up that has been successful in ingraining the customer experience culture in its DNA. The founders, the management, the employees and the culture – all of them are customer-centric. It is a lesson to learn for all of us.

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