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Customer Success at scale: Tips from Hotjar's Christian Nussbaumer

scale customer success

In her latest episode of Churn It Up, Aly spoke with Christian Nussbaumer from Hotjar.

You can listen to that episode here.

Christian is the first Customer Success Manager at Hotjar, and so he’s had a lot on his plate. Despite his mammoth to-do list (managing 200,000 accounts!) he still manages to stay on top of it. Here’s how.

Support and Success are not the same

At first, the Customer Success team at Hotjar tried to do too much. They balanced the responsibilities of both Customer Success and Support. Unfortunately, they soon found that it was an impossible task.

When you’re trying to solve a customer’s issue from the Support perspective, it’s hard to be proactive, find time to upsell, and make sure that they’re on the right subscription.

Equally, when you’re trying to develop relationships with the customer and find opportunities to upsell from the Success perspective, you don’t have as much time to spend on solving their issue.

Christian found this out the hard way so you don’t have to. Instead, consider splitting up Success and Support into different roles, so each can focus on what they need to add to the relationship.

The Pomodoro Technique

It turns out Christian is a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique, using it to ensure he completes the tasks at hand.

When faced with a large and menacing task, break it down into smaller chunks and spend a short period of time working on it. Then have a short break. Repeat this process.

hotjar customer success

The idea is to remain focused on the task at hand for each period of time, so that you’re super productive and get stuff done.

Tip: we’ve been using the Tomato One app to practice Pomodoro here at Receptive.

Focus on the essentials

Christian made it clear that you shouldn’t focus on the small stuff. If it can wait, then you should leave it for now and add it to the backlog for later.

By focusing on the most essential stuff and prioritizing your tasks, you’ll ensure the important work is done before having to worry about little, less important things.

Combining Sales and Success

Interestingly, Hotjar gives both Sales and Success responsibilities to the Customer Success team. Their reasoning is that having one contact to deal with makes their customers feel more comfortable when dealing with the company.

This means that Christian has to be in Sales mode while also working on Success. He reasons that if the customer is on the wrong subscription plan, helping them upgrade is the most effective way for them to be successful.

He says that if you don’t believe in what you’re selling, then you should change your job or the company you’re working for.

The numbers game

In case you missed it, Christian’s team has a whopping 200,000 accounts to deal with. One of the main things that ensures the team stays sane is a self-service model.

hotjar scaling

If people want help, they can easily find it or get in touch. That way, he only needs to deal with customers who need extra support. In fact, he told us that at least 50% of his customers reach out to him first.

He tries to focus on spotting potential companies and opportunities for growth early so he can get the ball rolling.

Christian also mentioned a tool called aText, which he uses personally (in addition to Intercom across the team) to quickly key in preset responses to any common queries or issues. This saves him a lot of time.

How to manage customer feedback

With that many accounts to deal with, it stands to reason that Christian must receive a lot of feedback.

He started off using Trello and eventually ended up with around 1700 cards on a single board, with up to 680 users tagged. Unmanageable is an understatement. Not only that, but he had no insights into the requests.

Christian now uses Receptive (ahem, shameless plug) to manage any feedback as he’s able to automate most of the tasks, and can also see key insights into the data he’s collected.

His biggest mistake

We all make mistakes, and before he left, we asked Christian what his biggest mistake was.

saas scaling

He confessed that the biggest mistake he makes is not asking for the upsell and pursuing it, despite it making most sense for both Hotjar and their customer.

The takeaway from that is to always keep the upsell in mind, and if you deem the time to be right, to go ahead and ask for it.

That was all we had time for, we’re afraid. Hopefully you’ve found some of the tips that Christian shared useful.

Don’t forget to go and give the podcast a listen if you haven’t already, we haven’t spoiled it too much!

Otherwise, thanks for reading!