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How Customer Success Can Support 10 Million+ Users (Strategies from Slack & Hopin)

Actionable strategies that can help your Customer Success team support a large number of users.
Patrick Icasas
April 6, 2022
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10 million users. 

To many SaaS businesses, this number is so huge it can sound virtually unmanageable from a Customer Success perspective. How does one onboard, track, and sustain 10 million users without getting overwhelmed?

This is the scale at which companies like Slack and Hopin operate. You may not be at their size yet, but you can still apply their secrets to your own business right now

Whether you’re scaling up to 10,000 or scaling up to 10 million, the challenges are very similar - and so are the strategies required to overcome them. 

In this article, we’re going to share some important learnings that Junan Pang, Slack’s Head of Customer Success, and Rosie Roca, Hopin’s Chief Customer Officer, shared during Catalyst’s Customer Success at the Center Summit

Here are some key, “must-do” strategies you should perform in order to deliver high-quality Customer Success experiences at scale:

Understand what your customers need to be successful

Simply letting your customers loose inside your software may be low-touch and easy to do at scale, but it’s rookie-level Customer Success and will result in churn. Instead, businesses should understand what their customers need to succeed, and empower their CS teams to do everything they can to achieve the customers’ desired outcomes.

“Structure the organization around what the customer needs to succeed,” Rosie says. “At Hopin, we have teams with specialized capabilities that map to specific activities and outcomes that correspond to each stage of the customer journey: Events, Customer Support, Renewals, technical teams, etc.”

In other words, as you scale, your CS function should become increasingly specialized. In the early days, your CSMs might be doing everything from onboarding to customer support, but as you grow, instead of hiring more CSMs and keeping the “breadth over depth” strategy, start to hire specialized people to own support, implementations, renewals, etc..

Build different strategies to address different personas

Let’s not forget that not all customers are made equal–especially with a customer base in the millions. 

According to Junan, “Customers are not some big monolith where you treat them all the same way. You’ve got different persona types that get different values from your platforms. Figure out what is the value that each persona group gets, and build off of that.”

“You have to get down into the line of business and figure out what’s actually valuable for each persona. A CSM will have different values from a sales person or an engineer. Breaking it down into smaller blocks helps our CS team deliver better value for each end user.”

The key thing to remember is that no matter how big your customer base gets, the number of persona groups will stay roughly the same. Sure, each group will get bigger as you scale, but the same strategy should still work across the group’s population, which makes things easier process-wise. 

Align reality to your vision 

Visions are often set aside or ignored when they get in the way. If that happens too often, then the vision no longer has any power. That’s why it’s important for your company to keep a strong focus on the vision at all times. Stay true, even if it’s inconvenient. 

Practically speaking, this means building the infrastructure, team makeup, and policies that will incentivize people to behave in a way that lead towards your business’ vision.

“Take a moment to look at current roles and responsibilities,” Rosie recommends. “Then evaluate what tools, mechanisms, and organizational measures you can put in place to help customers achieve their goals and get you closer to your ideal vision.”

You don’t just have to keep your vision internal, either. Show customers your vision for success. Get them excited and turn them into champions, because it’s those champions that will help drive engagement at scale. 

Junan says, “Champions take all of our content and spread it to the edges of the company. They advocate for specific use cases, and they advocate to leadership. We nurture that relationship because that’s super important to how we can drive value to a large user base.”

Invest heavily in your operations teams

The larger your customer base grows, the more vital Operations will be to ensure your team can handle the work without a drop in quality or efficiency. 

Ops expands the capabilities of your Customer Success team. They streamline and help to effectively automate time-consuming functions and processes, so that all of your customers will be more likely to receive the appropriate amount of support, onboarding, and guidance necessary to meet their goals. 

But Ops doesn’t just help CS do their jobs. It also helps management make the right decisions. 

Rosie explains, “The Ops team builds the infrastructure required to collect and understand customer data. They bring the right tools to help you track the activities that really matter. They dig up data points and insights and stitch them together to reinforce our intuition, strategy, and vision for the customer journey.”

The not-so-secret secrets of scaling

No matter what stage of scaling your business is in, you are still facing the same challenges as giants like Slack and Hopin: growing a CS team while maintaining quality of service. 

You can enjoy the same level of success by leveraging the same strategies that these global SaaS companies do, like:

  • Forming and adhering to a strong vision
  • Focusing on the customers’ needs
  • Addressing the needs of individual customer personas
  • Investing heavily in Customer Success Ops 

If we were to give you 3 immediate next steps from here, they’d be:

  1. If you don’t have CS Ops, start building the case for it right now. The sooner you make this hire the better.
  2. If you haven’t already, analyze your customers and see if you can create a few different persona buckets that you can use to represent your entire customer base. This will streamline your decision-making and prioritization.
  3. Ask your CS team if they feel like they have what they need to make their customers successful. If not, ask them what they are missing and see where there are opportunities to fill gaps.

Bear in mind that companies all vary in terms of maturity, industry, philosophy, etc., so these lessons may take some massaging to fit your particular situation. We’re confident, however, that you’ll still be able to benefit strongly from what these leaders from Slack and Hopin shared, and spin off your own unique take on their approach to implement at your company. 

Want to watch the entire discussion between Rosie and Junan? Watch the online recording of the Customer Success at the Center Summit.

Better relationships. Less churn.

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