One thing you do hear once in a while is that you shouldn’t really need a customer success team because if the company truly believes in it, then everyone lives it in their day-to-day. I think that’s very aspirational and idealistic. I don’t actually think it’s super pragmatic. There are certain metrics that are really important to drive and someone’s got to own those metrics.
If I’m in a SaaS company and we’ve got engineers who live and work deep in the data center, I can’t actually afford to have them be spending 100% of their time thinking about customers, they need to think about things like databases and servers and files. At the same time, I want them in some part of their brain to be thinking about the implications of what they do on the customer experience.
What I think you need to do, particularly as a company scales, is keep the customers front of mind. As you grow, and as you create more specialization, you’ve got people in roles that are very, very specific to what they do, accounting clerks, database engineers, and QA engineers. It’s not going to be the most immediate thing for them to think about. You have to do some things proactively to bring that front of mind, including making it one of your core values, not just throwing it up on the wall but actually talking about it.
A couple of examples: We work really hard to bring customers to the company. We have a Friday lunch every single week. It’s company-wide, it’s streamed and recorded, and we invite customers to come speak, typically once a month or so depending on availability. People will point to Jim in the lunchroom, standing up with a microphone, saying “I want that feature.” People don’t forget that.
We also do advisory boards. We have an executive-level CIO advisory board and a product advisory board that’s a little bit closer to the action on the customer side. It’s great to have a strategy conversation with a CIO, but what about the person at General Electric who’s responsible for making Box work every day? What does he think? What is he looking for?