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How We Drive Change Management at Slack – Keynote Recap from Customer Success Summit 2017

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Slack, the messaging app that is designed to connect you to the people and the tools you use everyday to do your work, has shown astronomical growth since 2013 by developing a massively sticky product, with 4M daily active users, spending 2.25 hours/day in the tool.

The stickiness and success of Slack is not a happy accident or coincidence. They focused on developing an effective adoption method that is simple and easy to explain to customers. At Customer Success Summit 2017, Rav Dhaliwal, Head of Customer Success (EMEA) at Slack, shared the structure and underpinnings of this winning process in his keynote presentation, and we’ve put together a recap of his invaluable recommendations.

The best way of making a product sticky is to make it valuable to the customer by showing a bottom-line impact on their business. But even if a product is valuable, if someone is told to adopt something, instead of having an independent desire to adopt, that person is far less able to adapt to the change. So an important part of your company’s job is to help those hesitant-adopters find a new way of working and embrace the change.

“No major software implementation is really about software. It’s about change management… When you move (systems), you are changing the way people work… You are challenging principles, their beliefs and the way they have done things for many years” – Jeri Dunn, VP and CIO of Nestlé, 2002

Slack’s change and adoption method involves four phases that are designed to achieve the following:

  • Raise awareness of your product
  • Create a desire to use your product
  • Give people the knowledge of how to use your product
  • Apply this knowledge to day-to-day problems they’re trying to solve in their work
  • Sustain the new way of working


Our change and adoption method

Phase 1: People and Purpose

Define business reasons for change and assemble a team of employees with internal buy-in to drive the change. Note: It’s important to explain the cost of not changing as well as the reason for changing.

Phase 2: Business Uses

Gradually introduce use cases in successive levels of maturity/sophistication. Start with lightweight processes with minimum impact. Then engage in day-to-day work. After that, embed your product into core business processes.

Phase 3: Setup

Remove technical barriers to adoption by establishing your product as compliant and showing users where they can go for help.

Phase 4: Sustain Change

Maintain momentum through ongoing awareness of your product with communications before, during, and after launch. Ensure employees have continued awareness, desire, and knowledge to use your product, or you’ll see a drop-off in usage.

Successfully running these four steps in parallel should result in a graph that looks a little like this:

Accelerating adoption of Slack

Key Takeaways:

  • Adoption is about more than just deploying technology
  • Change is really HARD for customers
  • Make the case for change EARLY! (Research shows that customers that deploy software as part of an overarching change program are 6x more likely to achieve their business goals)

According to Rav, the job of customer success professionals is to educate the customer. To view the slides of Rav’s presentation, click here.

Or watch the full session right here:

Ravit Danino

As our head of product, Ravit is building the next generation of Customer Success. She brings a wealth of experience leading product at Marketo, HP, and Mercury Interactive.

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