The Curse of Silos in SaaS Startups

I work at Akkroo, a SaaS start up of around 40 employees (at the time of writing this). Year on year we are making leaps and bounds in the world of Event Lead Capture, not to mention sales, client relationships, referrals, and advocacy. It was only recently that I started to look into why this was the case for our company and not all companies in the SaaS world. Surely it can’t just be because we are all bloody amazing individuals who are incredibly good at their jobs, right?

Our clients work within a large variety of industries from biomedical and pharmaceutical to consumer brands. We learnt very quickly that although all of our clients wanted the same thing (which is a top notch lead capture tool), what they needed differed depending on a number of factors from the size of the trade shows they were attending, to the speed they needed to get their leads into their CRM post event. This is where the success of communication and growth becomes apparent.

It’s a bit of a no-brainer that the individual teams within your business should be growing. It might even seem easy as you have a goal and a focus, and you know how your team works inside out. The tricky part to get right is the interdepartmental evolution.

My role is in the Customer Success department. I think one of our main strengths that sets us apart from many other companies is our dedicated focus on individual areas and our ability to make change to accommodate further focus where we see benefit in doing so.

For example, our Customer Success department has taken a number of forms and structures over the years and it has evolved as the company has grown. Read my article on Taking the Lego Approach to Customer Success for more on my thoughts about this.

The biggest lesson during our evolution as a company has been to make sure our communication and connections with other departments doesn’t break down. It is a fundamental part of accelerated growth to make sure that teams continue to collaborate effectively.

In Akkroo, we have a number of teams that work very closely together, see my crude sketch for an idea, I’m sure the amount of touch points feels familiar to you:

We know that if we ever get to a point of a company of silos, then we’re in big trouble. There is a lot of value in the subtle relationships that keep the wheels greased and the cogs turning. As we have grown, we’ve had to work hard to make sure the communication channels are open and effective for all those involved. By no means do we get it right all the time, and it’s something we constantly have to be aware of and work at. Navigating this is a tricky task!

One way that we have made an improvement is how we communicate updates from the product team to the customer facing teams. We use multiple channels to make sure we cover all bases. So, we don’t just use Trello to update people, we also send automated slack notifications, an email, and then it might also get mentioned in a meeting to top it all off. It may seem like overkill on the surface, but it works when you need a catch all. We know that the more we grow, the more important it becomes.

We recently implemented a Customer Success platform called Akita in order to have a more centralised system for managing our clients. This is now our central place for CSMs, Account Managers, Customer Support, and Customer Experience to find out the information they need. A bonus has been that our Product team now also uses it to gain valuable insight into our clients’ behaviour.

If you build it, they will come! (bonus points if you can name the movie)

So tell me, how do you go about making sure your teams continue to work well together as you grow?