Zoom – the next generation
In Part 1 of this article, we sat down with Jim Mercer, Zoom’s Global Head of Customer Success, just as the company was launching a new partnership with the Gainsight customer success platform. While we had him in the chair, we took the opportunity to ask Jim about the future of Zoom, and what the Gainsight partnership would mean for the development of the archetypal video conferencing tool.
So what does Zoom’s customer success strategy look like in the (hopefully) post-pandemic era?
Data insights drive Zoom innovation
The five lines of focus.
Ha. I appreciate the “hopefully.” I’m not even sure what the post-pandemic era is going to look like, but as far as our strategy for this year and beyond is concerned, a lot of what we’re doing now is future-proofing the team and running “What if?” scenarios. For example, “What if we don’t get any incremental budget?” and “What would we do to repurpose to ensure that we’re staying ahead of our customers’ needs?”
There are really five things that our team is focused on. The first is delivering customer happiness. And that really starts with us, our team is Zoom’s happiness delivery mechanism. So we’re focused on proactively engaging our customers in more thoughtful, data-driven ways. And truly driving adoption, which means ROI across the platform. That can be challenging, because as you say, a couple of years ago we were that ubiquitous video conferencing tool, but there are a lot of different options for video conferencing out there now. We’re not that one trick pony anymore. There are a dozen plus different features or pieces of that product now, so it’s super important that we’re articulating that and selling that vision to our customers.
The second is loyalty and advocacy, and really growing our methodology around promoting programs that really foster that growth through customer loyalty and community. We need to really give them the platform to speak as subject matter experts, because our customers are often doing it best, even outside the confines of what we thought was possible.
Third, and if I were to have a favorite part, this would be it (but I’m trying not to play favorites here) is protecting and growing the base. That’s really the nuts and bolts of our lifetime value. And when you think about lifetime value, our “true north” is our customers and their outcomes. Protecting and growing the base means attending to the building blocks that helped us create everything. So the outcomes that we’re building, our objectives, our KPIs, are all built around that strategy.
Thinking about that allows us to more quickly identify upsell opportunities and mitigate risk in our account base. That’s imperative. That’s customer success #101. And there are a lot of leading indicators around adoption, but over time, those become trailing indicators. Often, when you notice an inflection point around usage, it’s too late. And it’s a very competitive environment, so you can’t afford to be too late.
Gainsight and its tools should give us customer insights in time to spot the indicators and react to them effectively, to maintain and grow our customer base in a more systematic way.
Culture and caring.
And the last two areas of focus?
Fourth is operational excellence. There’s no such thing as a successful CS team without a nimble operations team. So think about the systems, data, and enablement teams. When I talked about internal enablement, during that process, we’re upscaling the talent that we have, and that really allows us to do these things. And NPI (new product introduction) is super important, not just for our customers, but for our own folks, especially when you think about the retention of our own employees and our own employee happiness. It means we’re really ensuring that we’re upskilling those folks. After all, Zoom is a much different landscape from a product perspective now than it was just a couple years ago.
The fifth pillar of our focus right now is culture and caring. That’s not too dissimilar to a lot of other companies, but really the foundational building block is caring for each other by investing purposeful, deliberate time, effort and energy into our own folks. You have to really lead with work/life balance activities, not just saying it, but leading by example as leadership teams. You put in place programs where you’re ensuring that you’re driving that accountability around taking time out. But also, there has to be career path development and team building, which often gets lost in the mix when you think about a quickly growing organization such as Zoom has been over the course of the last couple years.
That seems to be a general trend coming out of the pandemic – those companies that are investing in the whole care and culture aspect of work/life balance seem to be making faster forward strides than those that aren’t.
It’s super important, especially as you and I and they sit at home, working remotely. There’s no longer a delineated divide between work and home life, so it’s up to us to ensure that one still exists, even if the strict “location” of work and home are the same. And it’s an opportunity for Zoom to actually be better at this, rather than just having the products that allow us to do this.
We need to drive these meaningful experiences and ensure that we’re promoting these things and walking the walk of really taking time away and stepping out, so that the lines between home and work life are not so blurred right now as they would be if we didn’t drive those experiences. It’s potentially a slippery slope, because it can be really difficult to step away, and then you get elements of burnout, right? So it’s really important that we’re guiding our teams towards best practices and universal truths around workspace, regardless of environment.
Not your Grandma’s Zoom anymore.
We’ve heard recently about office culture in 2023, and how there isn’t really a 9-5 anymore, and that hybrid working is here to stay. As an original key enabler of that, it makes sense that Zoom would be keen to establish those lines of work/life balance.
We need to do a better job of evangelizing this. But as I mentioned before, Zoom’s not just your mom and pop’s video conferencing remedy for the early Covid blues any longer. It’s just in this unique environment where we’re purpose-built for enterprise and consumers alike. And it would be almost a contradiction in terms in most technology companies, but we’re in this really interesting dichotomy of scale here at Zoom. And part of my own motivation for being at Zoom as long as I have been is tied to how quickly we continue to innovate, despite some of the challenges around us that are outside of our control.
Those pesky macroeconomic headwinds.
Yes. In spite of which, over the course of this last calendar year, we’ve launched over 1500 features and enhancements to our platform. There are really close tie-ins there to how Gainsight helps us, because at the end of the day, think about that NPI that I talked about, and the importance of ensuring that we’re equipping our internal teams, having those data insights tied to each of our new products that we’re releasing and as close to real time as possible. I just can’t imagine a world in which that wasn’t the case.
1500? In a single calendar year?
Right? We’ve announced Zoom Mail and Calendar, Zoom Spots, Zoom Phone – that seems to be a huge revenue driver for us, and Zoom IQ, to name just a handful. They’re all built on the Zoom platform. Zoom Rooms continues to be top of mind, especially for our enterprise customers, in our direct business around reservation enhancements, doing more with traditional room spaces, even outside the confines of leveraging the Zoom Room software. We’ve also released a contact center platform this year, in addition to announcing Zoom Virtual Agent. We’ve acquired an AI chatbot which helps customers resolve 50% of their requests without the involvement of humans. And we’re hosting Zoom events and webinars, and obviously, drive more ROI from remote and hybrid events.
When you think about just all that that’s happened, we do need robust platforms and partners such as Gainsight that can truly help us at scale, identify our customers’ needs ahead of time and really help us meet them. Zoom become that Kleenex as it were over the course of Covid, synonymous with remoting in and or having a video conference, but it’s still insanely positive to me, despite some of the challenging economic times, that we continue to innovate at breakneck speed. And again, we need partners and tools such as Gainsight to really help us achieve some of those proactive engagements with our customers.
This ain’t your Grandma’s zoom no more.
And it’ll keep developing, with better customer insights to guide its way.
26 May 2023
26 May 2023