Understanding Self-Serve, Acting on Customer Feedback, and Leading at Notion

A Conversation with Kate Taylor, Notion’s Head of Customer Experience

How do you build a strong customer feedback loop across CX, Sales, Product, Engineering, and beyond?

This is a very common issue for companies to struggle with. I believe we found the right answer at Dropbox and it came down to embracing that you will need both qualitative and quantitative tracking.

What does an “insight report” look like at Notion?

Let’s take a specific case study: Everyone wants access to the Notion API. For us, the insight report is simply our way of going several levels deeper on a common product request. We synthesize information from one-on-one interviews with customers and our feedback database with the goal of deeply understanding a customer’s motivation. We tease out the four or five sub-themes attached to that product request. Synthesizing all of the on-the-ground feedback into a concise report that unpacks the sub-themes and customer motivations will make it easy for the entire organization to consume and act on those insights.

How do you think about hiring people to work on a growth / self-serve team?

Curiosity is the number one thing that we look for. On the whole, we’re looking for people who are curious, have a growth mindset, and who are customer-focused (and of course, love talking to people) because this person will need to transition seamlessly between thinking through a Product lens (i.e., deeply understanding a customer’s needs), and then through a Growth lens (i.e., what do we need to do to solve all of our customer’s problems at scale?)

What lessons did you learn early in your career at Salesforce that have stayed with you today?

The most formative insight from my early career that I still reference to this day came from a conversation I had with Marc [Benioff] at Salesforce. He said, effectively, that if you train talented and hungry team members on the fundamental tools and sales process — and then let them spread their wings — you’ll create the conditions for greatness. In other words, micro-management is never the answer to building a scalable team.

What have you learned about leadership in the COVID-19 era?

How I approach work: As a starting point, it’s important to talk about how I personally approach work. What matters the most to me is doing great work, building lasting relationships, and having fun while I’m doing it. The third is perhaps the hardest thing to recreate in the Zoom era, so we spend a lot of deliberate time on this. On just about every Zoom, whether it’s an internal or external meeting, we try to make sure everyone’s laughing at some point in the conversation. One of the simplest ways to do that is to make fun of yourself a bit more.

How do you leverage your most active customers?

We’re fortunate to have built a very devoted community of users. It’s been very impactful for us to harness those super users into a deliberated and structured program. A well-run super user program (more on the Notion Ambassador Program here) gives you a lot of surface for feedback from your most passionate users, and allows you to incentive referrals through an ambassador network that has been huge for growth in an age of viral products.

How important is content in your self-serve motion, and specifically in nurturing?

The short answer is that it’s important. But we’ve learned a few things that guide how we apply our content strategy.

What tools can you not live without?

At Notion, we’ve deliberately tried not to embrace a “big company” approach to tools, both because they’re not a big company and because it’s aligned to the Notion ethos.

What is your favorite question to ask customers?

“Why are you asking about this?” Oftentimes, a user has some deeper motivation or need behind a feature request, that they perhaps haven’t even articulated out loud yet in any meaningful kind of way. So rather than trying to push their thinking in a certain direction, or educate them on features that we already have, this question lets us go several levers deeper to understand their real needs. We figure out what they’re really trying to do, and solve backwards from there.



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