Inside Customer Success: Moz

July 6, 2016 Matthew McLaren

With more than 23,000 paying customers worldwide, Moz provides analytics software to track all of a website's SEO and inbound marketing efforts on one platform.

We sat down with Ellie Wilkinson, the Senior Customer Success Team Manager at Moz, to discuss how Customer Success has evolved over the last two years.




Can you tell us about your responsibilities at Moz?

As the Customer Success Team Manager, I manage a team of nine onboarding specialists, two account managers, and one churn strategist. I also set the strategy, position, and direction of Customer Success here at Moz.



How did you get started in Customer Success?

Before becoming a Mozzer, I was an SEO Specialist providing consulting services for car dealership clients. Before being an SEO Specialist, I was actually a journalist. I got a lot of experience with writing, communicating, and talking to people! I’ve always had a passion for teaching, as well, and I was then able to bring that experience to Moz.

My career overall has been focused on communication and teaching, and I use a lot of those skills now in Customer Success to help educate our customers, connect with them, learn about their goals, and show them how they can use our tools to succeed with their marketing goals.


"My career overall has been focused on communication and teaching, and I use a lot of those skills now in Customer Success"


How have you seen Customer Success change at Moz over the last two years?

Customer Success at Moz began with three CS Engineers who reported to the Director of Customer Success and Support. I was actually one of the original three Engineers.

The mission was to increase the Moz Pro product trial conversion rates. We began with live chats and found that it was pretty successful, so we expanded the team and hired two Live Chat Operators to help customers get all set up with the Moz tools.

I was promoted to lead in October 2014 to manage the growing team. After launching a successful live chat program, we moved on to test the impact of using automated outreach to decrease involuntary churn rates and boost the percentage of onboarded customers.

Just recently in March, we launched a revamped strategy to create a funnel to better support our Moz Pro customers. Now we’re focused on reducing customer churn rates, increasing retention, and boosting product engagement percentages.

We have a funnel now where we start with a live chat in the beginning when a customer signs up for Moz. From there, we hand them off to our Onboarding Specialists, who give 1-on-1 personalized demos to customers. Then we have our Churn Strategist who sets the messaging strategy for customers’ lifecycles. That’s more of a 1-to-many Customer Success approach. We also have our two Account Managers who help our customers on higher-value plan levels. They give them a little bit more hand-holding with setting up the tools. Finally, we have training which we offer to those who are more about self-service and those who require account management. We offer workshops and personalized training courses.

We’ve grown a lot as a team and gotten to this point now where we have a full funnel to support customers at all points of their journey with Moz.




Would you say that understanding the customer journey is your team’s biggest advantage, or is there one that surpasses that?

I would say that our biggest advantage right now is that we’re able to provide our customers with the support they need to succeed with Moz at any point in their journey. All of our team members are aligned towards that common goal. Because of our customer base, the funnel matches what we need to be flexible -- we have so many different customers with different goals and different levels of experience with SEO. So we really need to be flexible to provide them with the support that they need.


"The funnel matches what we need to be flexible -- we have so many different customers with different goals"




What would you say is your team’s biggest challenge?

I would say that our biggest challenge right now would be driving signups for demos that the Onboarding Specialists give. To address that, we’re adding more messaging in the product, trying to get banners within the product itself to promote the demos, and really bridge that gap between the product and Customer Success.

Another challenge is scalability. If we need to help more customers, we can scale up in terms of hiring more staff. But we’re always looking for ways to increase our efficiency and do as much as we can with the resources we have.



What does the culture of Customer Success look like at Moz?

Our culture is very experimental and very business-oriented. When I’m hiring, I look for people who adapt to changes easily and offer creative solutions -- people who don’t just go with the flow but can also say, “Hey, we could be doing this better,” or, “Hey, my customer had this piece of feedback, how can we make this process better?” We look for resiliency and perseverance -- people who have the courage to speak up and advocate for customers are really important.


"We look for resiliency and perseverance -- people who have the courage to speak up and advocate for customers is really important."


How have you seen your user base change over the last few years?

I do think that overall our user base has gained more general marketers. We’re seeing a lot of general marketers now who do a lot of different things in marketing, including SEO, but that’s not their primary focus. We also have a lot more international users as well.




What does a typical day look like for a member of your team?

They all do really different things, but they’re all united toward a common goal. The day-to-day consists of talking to customers, continuing to advocate for them and passing that along to other teams. We work with a lot of other teams, so we’re not just spending time with each other on the Customer Success team, but also working with Marketing and Product and passing on customer feedback or improving the experience for customers.


"They all do really different things, but they’re all united toward a common goal"




What kind of metrics do you watch closely?

We look at churn, retention, product engagement, training sales, and lifetime value -- those are the main ones.

Compared to your competitors, how do you think you differ from them in terms of Customer Success?

I’d say we give more support for free -- we give free demos to those just getting started with Moz and don’t really charge additional fees for onboarding. We give free live chats to people doing our free trial.

Our process in terms of the tools we use differs as well. We use Intercom, and I think that really helps us stand out from the competition. It gives our customers an easy way to reach us at any time. We actually noticed that some of our competitors added Intercom after we did. We were an early adopter of the tool.




What kind of news sites or blogs do you read religiously, or have piqued your interest recently?

I do read our own blog -- Moz blog -- to keep on top of what we’re putting out here. I also read the Buffer blog a lot -- they have some really good insightful articles and they’re really transparent, which I respect. I read the Intercom blog, too. They have a lot of good insights on Product Development, Customer Success and Support. Lastly, I’m also a member of some Customer Success groups on LinkedIn, so I stay on top of discussions happening in there as well.



So what role do you think Customer Success has played in developing the overall strategy for Moz as a business?

Customer Success has been important at Moz -- it’s helped Moz continue to focus on the customers and has helped us improve the product and build new features.

In terms of what role Customer Success should play overall in a business strategy - I think it’s crucial. The team can really own retention and lifetime value and be responsible for driving growth and expansion. It’s also just that human face of a company for customers. That human element really adds to the business.

Our team is a good source for feedback to help other teams get ideas of what to improve and prioritize and what to build next. We’re also the team that helps the business make money! We’ve had customers literally tell us they’d pay for training, and so we’ve decided, “Let’s try this, let’s offer training!” Our team has helped the company find other revenue streams.


"We’re also the team that helps the business make money!"




At the end of the day, how can you tell that you’ve made your customer successful?

At the end of the day, if the customer knows how to use Moz, knows which tools to use to accomplish their particular goals, and feels like they can do it on their own without needing help … that’s success right there. It’s like teaching them to fish -- teaching them to use the tools and being able to use the tools efficiently to get what they need. We have a lot of customers who have their own clients so they really want to know how to do things themselves. To me, that’s what makes our customers really successful in the end.




In your everyday life, how does success look like for you?

As I was saying before, I really like helping others learn new things. So success for me is helping others achieving their goals. I care about both my team and customers in that regard. Success is working together in harmony -- everyone’s on the same page, everyone knows what’s going on. Clear communication is really important to me as well. A win/win situation for everyone is success for me. 



What’s some advice you have for CS professionals just starting out?

Have a clear idea of how you’re going to measure success -- define metrics, set goals for yourself. Even if it means having to do some research or getting out there and asking other Customer Success teams to get more information, having an idea of how to measure success is really important.

Also, get yourself plugged into the Customer Success community because it’s such an important resource as you’re getting started to see what others are doing. It’s still such a new industry so it’s important to stay connected and see how it’s changing over time, so you can make sure you’re up-to-date with the changes too.


Photos by Seattle Flashing Lights Photography.

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About the Author

Matthew McLaren

Matthew McLaren works as a Digital Marketing Manager at Amity. His passion for creative design has motivated him to explore the many uses of technology.

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