Talking with Robert Chatwani CMO of Atlassian

March 9, 2021
To listen to the full episode, click here

Speaker 1 (00:00):

Welcome to the DNA and experience podcast from cloud app,where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and thepsychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us.

Speaker 2 (00:18):

All right. Welcome everyone. I'm excited to have RobertChatwani with me. Robert is the COO of at LaSeon and, uh, at, for anyone thathas watched any of these, um, over the last couple of years, you've seen mehave much longer hair than I have now. Uh, so I'm definitely very jealous of,of Roberts Roberts do, um, makes me regret my decision a few months ago to cutit so excited to have Robert with me and would love for you to give a minute totalk about yourself and what you're up to now.

Speaker 3 (00:49):

Well, fantastic. Well, Joe, let me, let me first say thankyou. It's great to be here. I don't do this often, but, uh, um, I enjoy sort ofstepping back, zooming out in, you know, what can I ask for better than this,which is just to spend some time with, uh, with, uh, with a colleague in theindustry. Um, I'm Robert sherwani, I'm the chief marketing officer at LaSeon.We are a, uh, software company focused on, um, collaboration, uh, but ourmission is really to unleash the potential of every team. And so we reallythrive at the intersection of, uh, teamwork, technology, collaboration, um, andnot just the technology there, but the, uh, practices and principles thatdefine, um, high-performing teamwork. Um, that's where we love to helpcustomers. And a lot of our products, perhaps you or others have, um, becomefamiliar with over time products like JIRA, JIRA, software, Trello confluence,um, often the products that really underpin, uh, collaboration across teams.

Speaker 3 (01:57):

Uh, I've been at Alaska and this month it'll be fouryears. So it's incredible how fast time flies. Um, uh, it's been a lot of funand the company seen a lot of growth, but in many ways we're just gettingstarted. Um, and then before it lasts UN uh, have a lot of experience atstartups, larger companies, the longest of which was that E-bay, uh, where Iwas for 12 years. So quite a leap to come from a consumer enterprise to, um, uh,what I would call more classic software company. Um, but it's incredible withhow things are changing, uh, these days with consumerization of the enterprise,that those lines are really starting to blur.

Speaker 2 (02:34):

Yeah, absolutely. You know, I'm such a fan of, of, uh,Atlassian products, JIRA confluence, Trello, you know, we use all of them hereat cloud app and I use them at Adobe as well. And so, yeah, I'm excited to kindof chat through some things with, you know, collaboration is such a key of, ofreally connecting internally and making sure that you're connecting with yourcustomers externally. What is the DNA of a good customer experience? What doyou think are some key elements of that?

Speaker 3 (03:06):

Um, well it's a big question. So maybe I'll, I'll, I'lltake a piece of it, uh, but you know, as I'm a marketer, but as marketers, asengineers, as product managers, um, the CEOs, I think this is really somethingthat all of us share, which is what can we do what's within our control andwhat's within our influence, uh, to help deliver a better experience forcustomers. You know, I, I think in particular it's worth highlighting that. Um,this is a critical time, uh, for question like that. If you look at the pastyear, really the shock to the system with the global pandemic, um, has changeda lot, both in terms of expectations that customers have, and also how we workwithin organizations, whether you're a startup or a large company, how do youactually choreograph the resources you need to deliver a great experience?

Speaker 3 (03:58):

Um, and so I feel like in many ways, uh, you know, I'llgive you my view on, on what defines a great experience, but I think almostanyone is qualified to really answer this, um, you know, a few highlights, afew principles of how we think about it at it last year and how I think aboutit. Um, the first is what I call the experience gap, um, as a customer, um,what do I expect versus what do I actually experienced if I have extremely highexpectations for what an experience will deliver. Um, but that's not what Iactually experience that gap is what I believe leads to, um, a bad experience.Um, similarly if I have very low expectations of an experience, uh, and I cangive you some examples of this, but I walk out of a retail experience ordealing with, um, a vendor or frankly, any interaction, and it's a fantasticexperience.

Speaker 3 (04:54):

Um, I'll be very satisfied. So I think as designers,engineers, product managers, marketers, really thinking about the gap, um, in,in shrinking that gap and over-delivering even what a customer might, mightexpect. Um, the second thing I'll mention is high consistency. So with everyinteraction with a brand or with a company, do I feel that I get a predictableand consistent experience, uh, and hopefully consistently positive experience?Um, I think that's also very defining. Um, and then lastly, you know, many ofus experience hurdles or friction, I have a lot of, uh, good examples of thisthat when we can create low friction experiences, meaning the amount of energythat I as a customer put into something, um, relative to the value that I getout. Um, I think that's a really important sort of design principle as well.

Speaker 2 (05:47):

I love that. I think those are all three, three reallygreat things you dove into, you know, the low, low friction, especially, um,it's so hard to create a good brand experience as well across all the channelsthat I'm sure you guys are involved in. How can you really stand out or how,how can a company stand out by kind of providing a good experience, beingconsistent, closing that gap and having the low friction opportunities?

Speaker 3 (06:17):

Um, well, before, before I jumped to that, can I actuallygive you an example? So I'll give you, this is going to be a really sillyexample. Um, but, uh, like many of us, we're all at home, uh, with ourfamilies, you know, with our pets, um, my wife and I, we have three kids. Uh,one of the things that we've started to do much more of in the past year, welive in California, Northern California is take road trips, you know, safe roadtrips with the kids, get out of the house. Um, we were on a road trip to MountShasta, which is about, uh, four or five hours from where we live at first. Youknow, first time we visited there, my daughter, um, hurt herself on a, on asledding sort of, uh, on a sledding Hill. Um, we're on the way home turns outwe were out of band-aids were out of first aid stuff in the car.

Speaker 3 (07:05):

We had a few things that we had picked up there. Um, andwe're kind of in the middle of nowhere, you know, pull over, try to find aspot, a convenience store, a drug store or something. And the only thing thatwe could find was a dollar store. Um, now I don't have experience going to toomany dollar stores, but when I have, um, I have, let's just say extraordinarilylow expectations. I have to tell you probably one of the most interesting andcompelling retail experiences I've had in months from the minute I walked intothe door, the person who greeted me, guided me to the first date aisle helpedme and stood with me to make sure I found exactly what I was looking for withmy daughter, with me, um, unlocking a little cabinet, cause we bought somethingthat was sort of behind lock and key walking me to the register and then askingme if there's anything else I needed, um, this sort of a silly, but I think itreally good example of having extremely low expectations, uh, but walking outwith what was a great experience.

Speaker 3 (08:09):

Um, and you know, I think across all of the interactionsas consumers, we can probably classify it. Every experience we had with one ofthese two categories. Was it great or did it, you know, was it belowexpectations? And I think as marketers, as leaders, as designers, we need tothink about putting ourselves in the customer's shoes around how to stand outand is any sort of, exactly, you know, to your next question. I think it startswith brand promise, right? What is your purpose? What's your company? Andorganization's reason for being, um, companies like Nike and Starbucks BMW,right? When I say these brands to the extent that we've had interactions withthem, I imagine most consumers in some form have with at least of those brands,um, we can probably with pretty reasonable precision state, their purpose orvision. And when you have that galvanizing North star, I feel for anorganization or a company, it really serves as the starting point, um, forthen, you know, delivering a great experience.

Speaker 3 (09:13):

And then, you know, the way I think about it is it, itthen goes to culture, right? Do you attract and cultivate employees who want tobe part of a culture where you have empathy for your customer, do you care?Right. So not only do you need the mission and purpose, but do we have the DNAto really deliver against that purpose and mission, uh, when it comes to agreat customer experience and then ultimately I think teams really need to feelempowered. Uh, can someone call BS if something that's being shipped is sub-parright. Um, you know, are, are there examples of that that get talked about,Hey, you know, six months ago our company was doing XYZ, but so-and-so in thisparticular team, um, call BS on it and said, it wasn't good enough. And themore of those stories you have, I think I feel that more, you can reinforcewhat grace should look like. Um, and then the feedback loops are important. AndI often think that's where a lot of teams often start, which is like, do wehave NPS ratings? Do we have C-SAT customer satisfaction, ratings, all that isimportant. Um, but I believe that those are just the table stakes capabilities.It's those other things I mentioned, I think are critical.

Speaker 2 (10:27):

Yeah. And your, your stories is almost like a nice littleanalogy filler to, to like your customers that are coming in on the tech side,are they, they need help with something. If they find you from a Google search,they're trying to save time, or they're trying to save an issue of timemanagement or collaboration with lots of different people. And so that's kindof your first point is your messaging from that, that landing page or whateverthat they first land on. And then all the way through now, the crisis ofreaching out to customer support and their, uh, their product roadmap is downand they need it for a board meeting and it's on their Trello board or it's on,you know, some Atlassian product. And they're trying to figure out how to getaccess to it from support. You know, it goes all the way from that first stepto support kind of solving their problem. It's it's got to have that unifiedconnection unified message like you mentioned.

Speaker 3 (11:32):

Yeah. Yeah. And I think the, what you're pointing to is,is a lot of what gets discussed these days, which is the journey, right? As acustomer, if I am initiating a particular, uh, interaction with, uh, with acompany, um, what is that end to end journey look like? Um, for different typesof customers, potentially new customers, customers, customers of different, uh,across different segments in, in, in, in cohorts, the ability to zoom out andtake a systems view at that, um, becomes increasingly complex, particularly inlarger organizations where, uh, goals and often objectives, uh, tend to getdisconnected. Um, it's those individuals, regardless of where you sit in yourorganization, I feel that it's not just your responsibility, it's yourobligation, um, to help the customer think about bringing the best of yourcompany forward. Right. Um, I often talk about, you know, great experiencesshould not be relegated to just the design team or just the marketing team orjust the sales team or just the engineering team. It's how all of that workstogether. Um, and how all of that, not just work together, but work together todeliver the right experience and outcome for a customer particular membersneed.

Speaker 2 (12:53):

Exactly. Yeah. And, you know, uh, w one thing we try anddo here at cloud app is we obviously use the product quite a bit and we closeevery ticket with a support ticket with a video or screenshot, if it'srelevant. Um, we send out videos to, instead of long emails for when we'reprospecting with, on a sales side and that's 10 X, our conversion rates withthe sales side and, and we've had like four or five straight weeks of a hundredscores on our, uh, customer support

Speaker 3 (13:26):

Side. All right. Congratulations. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (13:29):

And NPS is more than doubled over the last two years. Um,so what, what are some ways, you know, visuals and video, uh, can help,especially now in our remote world, uh, to really connect with, with customersand make that even better?

Speaker 3 (13:48):

Well, I'm not, I'm a marketer and I can tell you that, um,the use of media beyond just text is extraordinarily powerful in so many ways,the least of which is bringing your message to life. Um, you know, my datapoint here, uh, unsighted and dated, um, data point that I remember from myconsumer marketing days at eBay. Uh, but one we, we tuned into quite a bit iscustomers recall over, uh, over two thirds of what they recall, um, is fromwhat they see in less than 10% of what they recall is from what they hear. Now.I think that's a really important stat because it reinforces, oftentimes welean on, um, written communication or verbal communication, but to the extentthat those messages can be brought to life through visuals, um, I think thatthat's extraordinarily powerful because the brain also processes imagery much,much faster, um, than we process text or we process the word.

Speaker 3 (14:52):

Um, and so, you know, what does that actually mean? Um,again, from a marketing perspective, uh, I'll give you an example, which isthat last year, uh, we used to have blogs that covered almost every dimensionof what we do as a company. Um, a couple of years ago, we relaunched, um, howwe think about content. And we have a, a blog platform in a vehicle calledworklife by it last year. And if anyone visits, work-life, you'll notice thatthe content is extraordinarily visual. Every blog post is accompanied with agraphic and an image, and we use images to tell stories. Um, what we found isboth, you know, traffic numbers are way up, but the engagement and interaction,um, with that content is also, um, uh, extraordinarily relative to what it wasin the past. And so, you know, you're in the business of video, um, we'rerecording video right now. I think any ways in which we could use multipleforms of media to convey our message, knowing that individuals interpret anddigest data and information in different ways, um, using a multitude of, ofmeans, uh, visual auditory, otherwise, um, I believe it's just a reallypowerful mechanism to help communicate, um, no matter what business you're in.Yeah.

Speaker 2 (16:11):

And you guys, you guys put out this really great, you'vementioned the work-life, uh, blog, which I think is really great. I love kindof the nice launch, you know, with, with the move to home and kind of like workis all around you now. And you also did this really great survey, um, in thefall of last year, talking about, uh, you know, 5,000 knowledge workers and,and kind of the changes in remote work. Everyone is managing more, there's somuch to consume here. What, what was kind of like your favorite stat from that?

Speaker 3 (16:45):

Well, we're all living in this new reality as knowledgeworkers, um, whether it's working from home, uh, looking at the disappearinglines between our work life and our home life, um, that integration, right, uh,that, that is increasingly happening, uh, happening increasingly I should say,um, these are all trends that largely are here to stay. Uh, they will adapt andreshape and reform, but that survey that you mentioned that, that researchproject, we did, um, 5,000 individuals, knowledge workers across five differentcountries. The first and foremost takeaway is, uh, everyone is working more.Um, and so the fatigue that we may be feeling, um, the stress that may comealong with that, um, the sheer volume of work as we've removed a lot of thefriction of commuting and a lot of the friction of what I call thoseinteraction costs, um, is having a real toll.

Speaker 3 (17:43):

However, on the other side of this is really aregeneration and rethink of what it means for us to, um, uh, deliver results,innovation. Um, the way teams are coming together across functions, how wedefine, uh, the ways of working, uh, through the use of technology. These areall inputs into a whole new generation of how teams and companies are gonnainnovate in, in deliver, um, for the future. You know, I think there are somany downsides to clearly a global pandemic, like what we're suffering. Um, butwith every human experience, there's also this flip side, which is thecreativity and the opportunities to learn. Um, and so through that data, whatwe revealed is there's unbelievable amounts of innovation. That's taking place,um, video conferencing events, uh, telemedicine, uh, delivery services,wellness apps. And I believe, you know, when we look at this one, two, three,five years from now, we will see this as almost a Renaissance moment, um, inthe development and in creation of new ideas. And so a lot of the research thatwe've done is showing us, you know, we get the benefit of looking at 200,000customers and how their teams work together. And we are seeing an unprecedentedamount of, um, innovation that's coming from new ways of working.

Speaker 2 (19:15):

Yeah, I think it's such a great, um, you know, you guyscame together and put together this, this content and provided such great, youknow, experience your customers in a way that provides them with content andkind of clarity on what the future might bring and just being a leader in thefuture of work. You, you mentioned that experience, uh, earlier, um, is, isthere another one or another recent experience where, um, you may have become amore loyal customer because something, you, uh, uh, a co a company whoover-performed either in the tech space retail, where, where you were thecustomer?

Speaker 3 (19:58):

Um, yeah, I have, I have so many my brain tunes into this,right. As a, again, as a marketer, I think about who designed what I'mexperiencing, uh, I'll share, I'll share, I'll share an example of one company,uh, but two examples. Um, and the reason I use two examples because they'recompletely disconnected, but as a customer, I experienced, um, a very positivesentiment as a result of it. And it's one that I think everyone can connect tomany, many can connect to, which is Apple, um, millions of customers around theworld. Um, but I'll, I'll give you two very quick examples of my Appleexperience. Um, the first one actually goes back several years now, I forgetwhich I phone edition. It was probably the, um, iPhone eight. Um, I have areally good friend mine who always wants to be the first to get the device.

Speaker 3 (20:50):

Um, we went to Palo Alto store auto retail store and notin line at 4:00 AM. And first time they've ever done this, right. Uh, that'snot, I tend not to be the first adopter, but he is. And he wanted me to do, um,we were in line at 4:00 AM. The line wrapped all around the block, off a universityAvenue, if anyone's been to that, that Apple store. And, uh, it was dark. Itwas cold. Um, I don't know, September, October, whenever it was. And we were inline for about half an hour. Um, and I remember the store didn't open till 8:00AM. So we had four hours of waiting, uh, at a minimum. And we saw this bus pullup and out of the bus jumps out, uh, about 15 or 20 Apple employees wearingblue shirts. And Apple had sent a bus, I dunno, where maybe the Cupertino askfor employee volunteers to come and simply, uh, keep folks in line comfortable.

Speaker 3 (21:50):

And they walked out with a coffee cart, bottles of water,high-fiving everybody in line just to sort of keep them entertained and engagedin the cold until the store opened. Um, and I just thought that was a small,but such a meaningful example of creating a good experience out of effectively.What is hours of waiting at the end of the cold and the energy, the positivesort of vibes that were coming for that from that team were just incredible.And it also created a sense of anticipation and what's about to come. So that'sone experience where I would say unexpected, um, but also very positive, notfunctionally or logically. It was great to have a cup of warm coffee. Um, butemotionally it reinforced sort of what the company stood for fast forward twoor three years later, I was on a flight from San Francisco to Sydney and myiPhone slipped between, uh, the, the planes seat mechanisms.

Speaker 3 (22:50):

Right. Adjust the seat. I had just woken up. I hadn'trealized that I adjusted my seat and I heard a crack on my iPhone wasshattered. Yeah. Landed in Sydney. There's an Apple store right by our office.Um, during lunch went over there with a shattered phone, had again, zeroexpectations and the genius bar experience was fantastic. Um, within about 15minutes, um, uh, the Apple employee was able to get me a new phone and I couldtell that there were about 10 or 15 different types of like interactions thathad to happen. Um, but I was on the other side of the world. They had checkedmy account and they checked my Apple care warranty. They checked the model thatI had, um, as a customer, all of that complexity of the work processes, therules was hidden from me, right? Yeah. I just walked out of there with a newphone.

Speaker 3 (23:45):

And at the end of the day, it worked exactly as I neededit to, um, in the company effectively removed all of that friction for me as acustomer. Now, again, I had low expectations. Uh, it turns out I was fortunate,it was under warranty. Um, but the process was so delightful. Um, and I'mtalking to you about it right now. Those are very different experiences fromthe same company, two different parts of the world. And what I would, what Iwould, what I would argue is that that really comes down to culture in, in, inpurpose and mission. It starts there, and then it gets down to the actual,okay, what are the mechanisms that need to be put into place to deliver a greatexperience?

Speaker 2 (24:27):

Yeah, that's, that's such a good point to look under thehood and realizing that it's so operational, like the, the money that had to beinvested to, like you said, make all those connection points in infrastructureto get the employees to go on, get on the bus in that first experience. Andthen the second experience having all those different things, talk to eachother on the different side of the world is, is definitely something companiesmay not want to invest in, but it's, it's so important to, to do, to reallyform that, that full experience.

Speaker 3 (25:01):

Yeah. And it requires, it requires an ability to look, tolook at the opportunity from a customer's point of view in work and then workthe way in, you know, and I believe any of us could do this. We could gothrough any experience and do a write-up of an audit, right. I want to purchasea new item. I want to contact customer support, just do the audit, identify theexperience gaps. And then the hard part is now how to close those gaps. Um, andthat's where the challenge comes in, but companies like Apple, at least in myexperience in these two examples, um, did it extraordinarily well,

Speaker 2 (25:36):

Awesome proverb, it's been such a pleasure chatting withyou. You've had some great stories, a great knowledge bombs. I'm excited tokind of put together some, some quotes from this, uh, as your kind of partingwords, your crystal ball, what do you see the future of experience businessbeing,

Speaker 3 (25:56):

Uh, you love big questions, don't you? Um, you know, Ithink, I think the companies that will adapt to our customer needs are changingand the customers, the companies that do that the best will be the ones thatreally, that really thrive. Now's the moment, um, to really do that. Uh, youknow, I was recently in a conversation with somebody who's on the board of bestbuy and she was explaining to me, I didn't know the story that best buy pivotedtheir entire retail model. Um, right when COVID was beginning in the U S inlate February, early March, 51,000 employees shifted within 48 hours toaccelerate their curbside delivery program. And that has resulted in incrediblegrowth for that company since. Wow. So, you know, my parting thoughts would beone, uh, systems thinking, you know, really look at the entire journey from acustomer's point of view and, and how you design that to be the best possibleexperience. Um, agility, the organizational agility. You need to really seamlesslyconnect teams, regardless of what function you sit in. I think that best buyexamples are really good. Um, a good one, um, just to showcase the need forspeed and agility. Um, and then lastly, you mentioned this earlier, uh,measurement, you know, have the basic data insights, the instrumentation inplace. So you get those feedback loops.

Speaker 1 (27:23):

Awesome. Those are all really great. Robert, thank youagain for your time, and I hope that you have a good rest of the day and restof the week. And we'll talk again soon.

Speaker 3 (27:33):

All right. Thanks, John.

Speaker 1 (27:37):

Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. Wehope you learned something that will help improve your collaboration andenhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0movement today by getting cloud app, the instant business communication tooluse to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and gifts. Perfect forboth internal and external communication. Get started Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.