Talking with Scott Morris VP of Marketing at Zendesk

September 28, 2020
To listen to the full episode, click here

Joe: (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 the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us.

(00:19)
Hey everyone. I am thrilled to have a, another Adobe colleague alum with me. Scott Morris. Scott is currently the VP of marketing at Zendesk has a wealth of knowledge to share with everyone. And I'm excited that we can kind of dig in a little bit on customer experience marketing, and also just I'm a big fan of Zendesk and all that they do to help companies and their support teams. Uh, so I'm excited to dig in a little bit more on that. Scott, if you wouldn't mind, uh, giving us a little intro on yourself, kind of how you got to Zendesk, what you're kind of doing over there and we'll go from there.

Scott: (01:11)

Awesome, Joe, thanks. So great to be here. Thanks for inviting me. So I'm VP of integrated marketing at Zendesk. I've been there about two and a half years now. Um, for those who don't knows, and dusk is a software company based in San Francisco. Um, we make customer service software, but also SFA Salesforce, sales, automation, software, and customer engagement solutions, uh, which is basically another way of saying that we like many other companies are in the business of basically helping our customers create great experience for their customers. Right. It's really all about CX for us. Um, uh, my role in particular at Zendesk is I'm responsible for what we call sort of life or integrated marketing. Um, it's really the campaigns that take customers and prospects from awareness to consideration to purchase and beyond are big global at-scale campaigns that we do in all the regions and countries in which we do business globally. Um, I also manage the regional marketing teams in North and South America, like AKA field marketing in the Americas. Um, the global events team, that's responsible for our big annual user conference, which obviously looks very different now.


And our big of marquee live events. And now, you know, online events around the world, uh, our partner marketing team, and then finally engagement marketing, which is basically the team that handles some of the highest, uh, highest volume customer touch points, like email and in product messaging and webinars and localization and stuff like that. And, um, prior to Zen desk, um, which is where we crossed paths. I did spend quite a few years at Adobe. Um, most recently I was in an integrated marketing role there for a couple of years. Uh, got a chance to live in Tokyo, which was really awesome, a great opportunity that was thrilling and one of the most exciting parts of my career to date. Um, and then I spent quite a few years in product marketing there and, um, what I did among other things I launched creative cloud, which is for those who don't know, it was one of the first and biggest of sort of a traditional software company to move to subscription in the cloud.


Well, I actually didn't, I mean, I kind of knew, but I didn't didn't make that connection that you were a big part of that, um,

Meaning the product marketing team during all that. Yeah. I started just doing the video products there and then over time also took on Photoshop and imaging products and then the web products and the design tools like InDesign and illustrator. Um, and so it was, and then I was actually, yeah, on the front lines, it was a tough time, right? Some people didn't like the shift of the business model. So I literally was the spokesperson kind of out there trying to get designers and creatives to understand actually the, the good, you know, the benefits of this and all the cool things cloud could bring them, but you know, it wasn't that common then. So they just looked kind of like working in their desktop tools and at that time, or it sharing other, all their files in the cloud and collaborating through cloud and doing all those things that everyone's doing now. Um, so it was tough times, but, but really, really fun and, uh, you know, high point in my career for sure.

Joe: (04:05)
Yeah. That's super cool. I mean, I, so I, you know, obviously we had so many all hands meetings, uh, like monthly, I feel like it's so cool to kind of be a fly on the wall. You know, I was, uh, I think I'd been the company for maybe a year or two, so I was kinda just getting my feet wet there, but it was, it was such a cool experience to be a part of that's that's really, you know, I'm sure you lost a few years of your life.

Scott: (04:30)
Yeah, definitely. It was, you know, one of the things that was hard about it, I think is that it was so new. Right. And so what Adobe basically did out of the gate is they just offer their desktop tools as a subscription. Right. And the cloud value is something that built over time. It started cloud storage for your files. And so it was hard for people to see, like, how was this better other than I get updates all the time without having a great, but then there'll be, has invested so much. And all the collaboration tools that are kind of built into it, things like, uh, what was formerly Typekit fonts that you can put on your website embedded in it just really, really strong, uh, also like the ability to share your brushes and pallets and things like that across the creative applications, which you couldn't really do before. Um, so by really adding all that value where like, Hey, the cloud is actually different and better, and here's what you get that you wouldn't get the old way. That's what really was like the tipping point where it just took off and a company is doing amazing right now. Right.

Joe: (05:30)
Doc did not slow down when, when either of us left. Um, so let's, uh, you know, we came from Adobe, which was kinda making an experience, was the brand motto at kind of the end. And obviously, you know, Zendesk is on the front lines of customer experience, leading support, and people have, uh, you know, researched a whole bunch of things before they maybe use the Zendesk tool to like connect with whoever they're frustrated with.

Scott: (06:02)
Wow.

Joe: (06:03)
How have you kind of, what is the DNA of a good experience? Uh, how does kind of like, I think integrated marketing is obviously a key piece of that. What are some key points that you think really, or marketing really fits into that customer experience or the customer journey?

Scott: (06:20)
Yeah. Um, good question. So, uh, as you know, everyone sort of defines customer experience so differently, giving so many things to so many people, so like to kind of cut cut through the clutter and confusion. And I always just think of it as the customer journey, right. Customer experience equals customer journey. And so what is the role that marketing plays in that? Uh, and so to deliver a really amazing customer journey, in my opinion, you know, there's a couple of things you have to do. And of course, there's the obvious ones you have to think full funnel, how do you drive awareness and bring prospects through and just deliver a delightful experience. But I think, you know, for me, a really important part that makes a customer journey super successful is you obviously have to make it relevant, right. And a great way to do that.

(07:07)
Not all companies do it. Zen desk is actually on a journey with this ourselves, but things like segmentation and personalization, right. Um, really helps drive a stronger emotional connection because you've, you know, you've sort of shown that, you know, the customer, right. You know what they're looking for, you sort of put in more effort to deliver an experience that's aligned with what you think they care about, or, you know, you care about it's oftentimes think, um, and you know, we're still on that journey. It's Endesa rights, for example, segmentation pretty deep. We do it really well. We would around buyers, all the personas in the buying center, including the influencers and market segments and industries, but, um, personalization is harder. Uh, and we're just starting on that journey. Right. Really putting that right message at the right time, across the right channel that feels very personalized and relevant.

(07:59)
Um, another thing that, um, that I have spent a lot of time on, I did this at Adobe and I've spent a lot of time on this Zen desk is that, you know, a really important part of the good customer experience is everything that happens after they've purchased. Right? I mean, so many marketers were so focused on acquisition because that tends to be where our KPIs are. We want to drive pipeline, want to help the sales team, close deals, whatever your, you know, your acquisition KPIs are. But, um, you know, using the Adobe example, we actually struggled with that in the early days when Adobe moved to cloud, because, you know, Adobe never really had to worry about that, just experience, you know, with a product like Photoshop, people bought it and they were generally happy with it. And maybe technical support is where you would maybe have to reach out post-purchase.

(08:49)
But, you know, with subscription customers voted with their wallets every month. Right. And making those customers successful kind of became job one because customer success basically equals customer happiness. Right. And what does that mean? Um, it's going to be different based on what you're selling, but in sort of the SAS world, it's getting set up onboarding, learning how to get the most out of what the company just sold. You, you know, all that stuff, which really hugely important. Um, and, uh, you know, Adobe ended up investing a lot in that to really get that right. Um, and you know, we've been doing the same thing here at Zandesk over the last couple of years. Um, tons of time focused on that post purchase experience.

Joe: (09:37)
Yeah. That's, those are really, really great points. I think, uh, you know, definitely like you, you learn, especially at, in like a lead role, how different, like an educator who might be a decision maker responds compared to like a B2B CIO, or even like a CMO, whoever your end kind of seller is, you kind of have to really structure, you know, how your campaigns target those different people. Uh, and to your point, yeah. Personalization is such a difficult thing to nail cause it's, it has to be like a balance of not creepy, but like provides a good experience. And maybe it's just, when you're logged in, you get a nice, simple, hello, and the experience that you might expect for your role. It is really hard to now.

Scott: (10:26)
Well, I think one of the things that makes it the hardest is what, what I call the matrix. And it was the first thing that I was confronted with when we started doing even our initial efforts and personalization Zen desk. It's like, every time you add another dimension of personalization, you just multiply the number of experiences you have to deliver. Right. If you're trying to deliver, even if you think about like, are they a prospect or are they a customer, okay, there's two Zendesk case. Are they a sales buyer, a support buyer or the it buyer, an HR buyer. Okay. That's those four times the two that you had that's eight, right. And then you add something else in like, you know, maybe what they've done in the past, where they came from most recently, and you just have this incredibly complex, um, set of options and experiences you have to deliver, which is of course why people turn into marketing automation software to help them do that and manually out of the gate.

Joe: (11:21)
Yeah. That's a really good point. You know, we've kind of, we've kind of gone a little broad, uh, with, with topics. I want to dig in a little bit on Zendesk personally. Um, you know, Zendesk is, is such a leader in customer support software. It's a GoTo for enterprises and small businesses. Um, how does it really kind of help improve that stage of the journey? Uh, there's definitely an automation element to it, but there's also a human element to it. Uh, what are kind of some of the key points or core values or things that you guys try to point?

Scott: (11:54)
Yeah. Uh, great. Um, I think most people, so by the way, you're right, we're basically a customer service company, but as I said, you know, we have an SFA now is that we also have products for the sales buyer. We have, you know, a pretty broad portfolio. We're not like deep into, you know, uh, digital marketing and marketing automation, but we've got a bunch of other elements of this. But if we just talk about customer service, right. Which is how Zendesk got started, how we're known the best. Um, most people think of customer service as something that happens when people need to reach out to a business with a problem. Right. Um, but that's really only half the story like customer service. Isn't just when a customer calls or emails you, um, it also is when people are shopping for something, um, and they find your business and customer service is actually happening, even though that person isn't a customer yet, right.

(12:51)
Or when they're, uh, in your knowledge base answering their own questions, that's customer service too. And in all of these scenarios, customers expect really fast replies and they expect them on the channels of their choice. Right. And they expect that as they move between those channels, like they might've interacted with you via email. And then they interact with you via online chat on your website and then a messaging app like WhatsApp. They expect you to know all those conversations they had with all those people across all those channels. And that's, that's hard, right. That's hard to do successfully. Um, and I think winning customer experiences are really about how the customer feels they're being treated. Right. Like I said, if a customer bounces between has to keep repeating themselves or they bounce between those different departments, that's super frustrating. And they feel like their time was wasted.

(13:40)
They weren't respected. Right. Whereas like really excellent customer service happens when a customer, a company exceeds a customer's expectations, right? And this could be delivering proactive support, answering customer's questions or getting ahead of a problem before it happens as opposed to always being, um, being reactive, uh, and also means going the extra mile. I think one example I like to cite is one of our, one of our customers, Zappos of their customer, they're really known for their customer service, right? And their team is empowered to basically do what ever it takes to build real human interactions with their customers. Um, they can stay on a call for example, as long as it's necessary. They tell us that the longest call they ever had was 10 hours and 51 minutes calls lasting around two hours have been almost daily. Um, so, you know, that's amazing the company can empower their team to help customers, you know, so deeply.

(14:40)
Um, and then just one final thing on the Zendesk side, I would say, um, you know, proactive engagement again is super, super important. Like I said, reactive support. Sure. That standard, you wait for customer to contact your business, but Lockton is, is critical. Um, it means anticipating, you know, what your customer's issues are and addressing them before they even need to reach out to you, right? Like any commerce company getting ahead of an abandoned shopping cart, for example, by deploying a chat bot on their checkout page to answer your frequently asked questions, or I dunno, your Comcast sending customers that text about getting upcoming service interruptions, you know, before they actually have the interruption.

Joe: (15:22)
Yeah. I mean, those are all, some really great points. I like how you kind of applied customer services to so many stages. And it, you know, I was talking with, um, David Hunt, who's the, the head of customer support at HubSpot, A podcast, a few episodes go and him and I were talking about like, by the time they actually get to a person, hopefully they don't get to your person to be honest. But by the time they get there, they've already searched everything on the web. They've probably like seen some random forums that you may not have control over. They've definitely like done all the automated stuff that you mentioned, like Facebook messenger or WhatsApp or whatever. So, you know, you better have, first of all, good stuff at that first 80% and then really good reps at the end who are kind of, uh, you know, helping finish the finish.

Scott: (16:18)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, do you like pick up the phone and call about a problem before you try to seek search out online, how you can fix it? Or, I mean, I always go and try to figure it out myself first and then, you know, if I haven't actually interacted with the customer with the company directly, I understand it. But if I have, if I, if I emailed them a problem or if I chatted online and then I called them and they don't have any record of that stuff, that's super, super frustrating.

Joe: (16:43)
Yeah. Yup. And then obviously the last thing you want them to do is like, uh, you know, go out on social media kind of complaining about your product,

Scott: (16:51)
Which I do though. Right? Like how great it's always what their problems were. Right.

Joe: (17:01)
I managed a social listening, how Adobe kind of near the end of my time there. And I definitely got still got a lot of like angry customers.



Scott: (17:13)
Adobe is the devil of Subscription service. Um, yeah. So it's always an actually had, uh, during that first year, I actually had hand drawn, um, drawings of me not a flattering nail to the office with quotes that I had said on like interviews completely misconstrued it. What was funny as it looked like it was drawn with like Gran like drawing it, I thought, is this really a creative fro this doesn't look like they could have done this and illustrator if they're really that pissed off. Oh, that's awesome. That's like that's of those things that's really fun to look at.

(17:51)
Yeah. Well, I gotta think of some things in arrows, you know, so yeah.

Joe: (17:58)
We're, you know, we're, we're communicating over video right now. Uh, zoom has exploded. Uh, we're all kind of maybe have a little zoom fatigue. Um, but customer support is a big kind of piece of, of cloud apps business. We have a lot of people whose companies are using us for closing tickets faster, having higher satisfaction rates, not sending people to FAQ pages, they're like creating a video or image. How can like async tools like cloud app or like even a real time chat if people are using zoom for customer support, um, really be helpful and kind of closing something with visual, um, evenly in like your knowledge base, you know, if you're using it in Zendesk, um, how can that kind of be helpful with, uh, loyalty and satisfaction?

Scott: (18:51)
Yeah. So, I mean, I think, you know, certainly every marketer knows how powerful video can be. It's a little funny now because of the zoom fatigue that you mentioned, right? Like we're literally on video all day, every day in ways that we never, at least most people including myself never were before. And so sometimes you can talk about like how awesome video is people think about the fact that there are videos all day, but if you put that aside for a minute and let's actually talk async video, right. Um, you know, th definitely top of mind in terms of thinking about the ways that businesses can connect with their customers, right. Especially in this distributed world that we're in. And I think, you know, everyone has different preferences and I don't want every experience to be video, frankly, but there are a lot that can be greatly improved with video.

(19:40)
Y'all using that little example that, um, and I'll be honest, we do use video a lot at Zendesk, but it tends to be a lot of like highly produced by our brand team video that's on our homepage and things like that in terms of using sort of fast, kind of do it yourself to get a quick message out video. That's something that we are still early in our journey around, but increasingly it's becoming more and more important. Um, I think where we really started to see the power of that was actually, I don't know, a couple quarters ago, uh, our European marketing team actually was one of the first that really kind of tackled this. And they, um, you know, as, uh, uh, as with many B2B companies, you know, our inside sales team, our BDRs or SDRs, they manage a high volume of interactions with prospects and clients, but mainly prospects.

Joe: (20:27)
Um, everyone is aware of like the email fatigue and it's something almost every marketer struggles with, you know, everyone receives loads of emails every day. So how can you make it more engaging? And we also, I think have all heard the like humans have what, eight seconds of attention span a shorter attention span than a goldfish. So like how do you really engage folks and get them, you know, peak their interest basically. And so the European team a little while back, you know, came up with this pilot where they actually got the, those inside sales team members, the XDR as we call them the BDRs and SDRs, as well as our account executives to actually be, you know, doing quick video recording, some screen grabs, et cetera, to create a more personalized and engaging way of reaching out to their, to their prospects. And just even a little pilot that we did.

Scott: (21:22)
Um, so a couple of stats, cause I did a little bit of, uh, research on this. So, um, we doubled the email, open rates by doing that. I mean, if we compare it against the control, we went for that type of email. Um, it was actually back when we were doing live events, inviting people to a live event cause that spring, I think, or early spring, um, 34% was our typical email open rate jumped to 68%. And the click through rate went from 4% to 88%. Like I literally had to triple check that because I couldn't do that. It was increased. I think what's really important though, like the end result, um, cause those are great, but those are just engagement metrics. Right. Um, the goal of the program was to actually get people to come to an event and to schedule a meeting. And when we compared to similar programs where we didn't use that sort of, it's kind of quick and dirty, but it's great in personalized video. Um, we ended up booking something like 20 or 30 times as many things and getting folks to the event as they had done previously. So like, if you need anything to prove that video works, you know, that's, that's a good example.

(22:31)
Yeah. That's it, you know, we, so we kind of started building our SDR BDR team law in Q four last year and we actually saw exact similar result. Like we started doing one line of text and then like a cloud out video and it was pretty insane. Like same type thing. I was like, ah, we need to check that. Like I want to write a blog post, but we really need to like check that and make it

Joe: (22:56)
Sure it's accurate. You guys are in a hot space. I mean, it's definitely, as, as companies are starting to experiment with technologies like that and they see results like that, I think we're going to take off Scott.

(23:11)
We've got some really great experience. It's been a wild year. You've got a big org. Take me through kind of the inside of being a leader during this time. Um, you know, it's, I find it's pretty fascinating to hear like, uh, how things kind of went down, how you've kind of adjusted, um, and w just digging a little bit on, on how it's been to be a leader during this year.

Scott: (23:38)
Yeah. Um, great. So, uh, something that I think a lot of people might agree with is, um, I don't think I've ever learned as much about how to lead and how to nurture a team as I have in the last six months. Um, I mean, I hate using the word unprecedented because it's used so frequently, but like literally the edit in the dictionary, I think this is what will eventually show up there. Um, and so if I think about,

(24:07)
Um, some

(24:09)
Key things that I've learned, let me talk first about my team. And we talked a little about customers, right? So for my team, I think the number one thing I've learned is really the importance of empathy and don't get me wrong, but not like I wasn't before the pandemic. And it's always been important, but like, wow, you really need to understand and feel what each team member is experiencing from within their frame of reference. Right? And in some ways, like when we were all in the office, it was like this democratizer because everyone had the same opportunity to show up in the same. I don't want to say it was a level playing field, but all of the other things going on in their lives were in some ways left behind, at least that's the way to be. But every dynamic in someone's personal life is like rock right into that and work life silly things like you're on a zoom with someone and their kids, you know, interrupt. So there's their family situation. Their partnerships, you know, their literal living space has all been sucked into their work experience. And by the way, there's no way to separate your work from your personal cause it's also munched together, right? That's huge, huge issue with the team and finding right work balance when work is where you sleep. Right.

(25:22)
And so, you know, really, really being able to understand what someone's situation is and sort of where they're coming from, resetting your expectations, giving more room for there to be a wider range of how people are going to need to tackle things. And maybe even the timeline they'll need to do it. That's, that's been really important. Um, and that, I think from a customer perspective, I think, uh, the number one thing we've learned like as a company, not just myself, um, is, uh, actually one of your previous episodes with our former colleague, Chris Kohler from box to that a couple of days ago. And he talked about the importance of simplicity, right? So everything that we do, and we just like any company, things had gotten so complex, we had these long range projects we were working on. We were almost trying to do too much.

(26:11)
And Zendesk sort of said, you know what, we're going to simplify this. We're going to start with our customers always first. And their experience are going to work back from there as opposed to what our plans are and try to make the customer spit into it. It means complete transparency, right? No imprint, asterix, no complicated processes that only makes sense to Zendesk and not to our customers. Uh, and so that's been a huge thing that, um, that won't end when the pandemic ends and we're all back to quote unquote, that's something that's now like, it's just part of who we are.

Joe: (26:47)
Yeah. I'm sure that's been really interesting with Zendesk kind of spanning, spanning so many different sizes of businesses. Uh, you know, just like the trickle down of like, uh, smaller business using Zendesk and then smaller business, not making any money for six months. Yeah. And they're like, uh, Hey, we can't pay for your tool anymore. And I'm sure you have like, you know, your marketing and sales team and support team are like, well, let's like work something out and figure out how we can keep you.

Scott: (27:14)
That's just been pretty, pretty crazy. Yeah. And in fact, we did a lot of that. Right. But actually the very first thing that our CEO came out and said he wanted everyone to do is protect our customers, meetings, whatever it takes to make it right for them. And yes, you are absolutely right. We have a lot, especially SMBs. Right. Um, they got, and they're in like restaurants, small restaurants using about what they went through in the early stages of the Penn DEMEC and the rule was basically do whatever it takes. You need us to pause your billing portability. It's do something special for you to do something special for you because Zendesk is not luxury software. It's what customers, you businesses use to have important interactions with their customers. And because someone was in some hard times or wasn't able to pay or whatever, like we didn't want to take that away from them. So sure.

Joe: (28:03)
That's really cool. Well, thanks for kind of digging into that, you know, at the last question I always ask is what is the crystal ball question? Um, look into kind of the future a little bit, not thinking about that Pandemic, nothing about what kind of times we're in, what do you think is like the future of marketing customer service? Where do you kind of see see trends moving?

Scott: (28:22)
Yeah. Um, one thing that is, you know, even when we're post pandemic, I think, I think is here to stay is that, um, marketers are going to need to basically know how to reach and engage prospects and customers digitally all the time for now and forever. Like, I don't think you can ever depend on being able to reach someone in a physical space, even when the pandemic is over and more people are back in offices. I mean, I think there's just been this fundamental shift there. And so how you differentiate your digital experience is really how you're going to stand out even more than today. And dusk, I've been calling this, you know, simplified digital first marketing and scale, right. It's all about how do you like bring the richest most immersive experience to an online only world, um, and also get great ROI.

(29:12)
I mean, I was actually really surprised that when we move only online events, like every other company in the world, not only did it have a good ROI, because guess what, they were a lot cheaper, we actually generated more pipeline than from our in person events, just like kind of amazing to me. And so, you know, and also like, I don't know that we'll ever go back and do big conferences again. I mean, I actually managed the team conference and we have this conversation all the time, like how we're going to be interrupted. We'll do live in person at some point and at some scale, but just really rethink about all of that. Um, but re rethink all of that. And the other thing, which is sort of not related to that is, um, I think more and more brands will define and differentiate themselves based on attributes that are outside of their product offering or their creative expression.

(30:00)
Right. So in other words, how do you weave your cultural attributes, um, to really become customer facing and weaving them into your brand attributes? Right. And the examples of how we're doing this is on desk now that I think is going to be more and more commonplace in the future is thinking about the community involvement as a company. You know, we roll up our sleeves and find our roots and the communities that we call home. And how does that become literally part of our brand, even in terms of how we do acquisition programs, right? We're good neighbors. How do we really focus on social impact and make that a core part of our brand diversity equity inclusion? Obviously, it's still huge right now. And we, we have, you know, like any company, we have a long way to go when it comes to that, but how do we weave all that stuff together and use that, uh, as a, as a differentiator, we also have this word that I love it's test that says we're humbled int right. It's a confident and humble kind of smashed together. So how do we like infuse all of that stuff to actually, you know, differentiate ourselves so much that we're able to attract people to our brand in ways that, uh, you know, maybe your competitors aren't gonna be able to do.  

Joe: (31:11)

I love that Scott. There's some really great thoughts. Thank you so much for digging into a few things about customer experience, Zendesk overall, and the future of marketing. Really great conversation today.

Scott: (31:22)
Thank you. Thanks Joe, for having me great catching up with you too. You too. See ya. Bye.

Joe: (31:30)
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