Unlocking Growth and Retention with Tessa Thorburn (Loom)

Learn how Tessa's scaled and strategic CS org creates delight for Loom customers.

Tessa Thorburn
February 1, 2024
Unlocking Growth and Retention with Tessa Thorburn (Loom)

Alexa, CEO of Pocus, hosts Product-Led Sales (PLS) “Ask Me Anything” sessions with PLS experts to share best practices, frameworks, and insights on this emerging category. These AMAs are an opportunity to ask PLS leaders any question — ranging from hiring to sales compensation to tech stack — in a low-key, casual environment.

The PLS AMAs are for members of the Product-Led Sales community, the place to learn, discuss, and connect with go-to-market (GTM) leaders at product-led companies. The goal of the community is to bring together the most thoughtful and innovative GTM leaders to build the next generation of sales together.

Interested in joining? Request an invite here.

Meet Tessa Thorburn, Head of Customer Success at Loom 👋

Tessa Thorburn has spent over ten years in various go-to-market roles spanning pre and post-sales. She began her career as a sales engineer before moving into customer success leadership roles. For nearly four years now, Tessa has been at Loom (recently acquired by Atlassian for 975M) and leads the Customer Success organization. Tessa has built an incredible CS organization responsible for keeping Loom’s 18 million + users happy while also helping grow revenue. 

We sat down with Tessa for a Pocus community AMA to learn more about her journey of building and scaling the CS organization at Loom. Continue reading to learn more about:

  • Moving Loom’s CS team from generalists to specialized functions
  • Building scaled and strategic CS programs 
  • Creating cross-functional alignment that benefits customers 

Renewal focus 👉adoption focus 

Customer Success teams typically have one primary function – retain and renew customers. This was no different for Tessa’s team at Loom. In the first year, her team of generalists was entirely focused on renewals despite there often being other priorities like onboarding or expansions. Tessa recognized that renewals bubble to the top because of their direct impact on revenue. Still, she also felt that the team needed to move the needle on adoption more proactively to truly help customers get to value with Loom. 

This problem is not unique to Loom. Many growing startups have teams focused on multiple metrics, but the truth is that most teams can only really move the needle on one thing at a time after hitting a certain level of growth. 

Recognizing that Loom was hitting this inflection point, Tessa spun up an experiment to move one CSM off their book of business and into a focus on adoption across all accounts. The metric she specifically wanted to influence was the number of users recording Looms or “recorders,” as they called them internally. The CSM built out a new scaled webinar program as an experiment to see if they could drive up the number of recorders.  

The result? Immediately, they saw improvements to the number of recorders and an uptick in hand raisers from those webinar sessions. 

This validated that Loom’s CS team needed a more specialized approach to the areas of their customer journey that had the highest impact on revenue.

Next up: revamp onboarding. 

Revamping the customer journey at Loom

The competing priorities between renewals and everything else meant that everything else always took a backseat. But Tessa identified that onboarding couldn’t be a backseat priority for Loom. How do you align on which areas of the customer journey need that dedicated support? What functions are better served through scaled programs? 

Pain and risk framework 

Tessa shared that she and her team knew it was time by first auditing their existing customer journey and looking at it through the lenses of risk and pain. 

  1. How painful is each step of the customer journey for customers today?
  2. What risk does it pose for revenue (i.e., renewal)? 

Onboarding was identified as an area that needed attention through this process. It was an area of relatively high pain for customers and posed a risk for adoption and retention. 

Before launching a dedicated onboarding team, CS at Loom owned the entire customer journey, but all metrics played secondary roles to renewals. As a result, they weren’t seeing enough customers moving out of their defined exit criteria for onboarding. This gave Tessa enough ammunition to build out the dedicated team to revamp onboarding. 

“The [new] onboarding team was focused on [one] goal – hitting exit criteria in the first 60 days…We saw our rates of hitting exit criteria almost double just in the first quarter of having this onboarding team.” 

Optimizing for your team's skills

While finding areas to specialize the team into different parts of the customer journey, Tessa also considered the strengths of the individuals on her team. She advises looking at the skillsets and finding opportunities to optimize for strengths before adding an additional headcount. 

She suggests mapping individual skills to the pains and risks you identify in the customer journey. Are there folks on the team who spike in their commercial skills? Have them own renewals and expansions. Is anyone good at thinking about scale? Have them focus on adoption across the entire journey. 

Scaled vs. Strategic Customer Success

Many Customer Success teams struggle with prioritization. You want to delight every customer but most teams can’t just grow linearly with their customer base, you eventually have to figure out where scaled programs can fill the gaps. 

Tessa shared her approach to scaled and strategic Customer Success at Loom. Here’s how she defines the two models:

  1. Scaled Customer Success: Helping customers realize value but doing it more efficiently. Tessa described scaled CS as “meeting customers where they are.” Scaled is important in Loom’s PLG motion, where customers don’t necessarily want or need to speak with someone. However, this low-touch playbook doesn’t only apply to smaller self-serve customers. Even larger accounts might prefer a low-touch approach. 
  2. Strategic Customer Success: The CS team partners with customers on strategic initiatives. This high-touch motion typically requires more synchronous collaboration with customers. 

Despite scaled programs' reputation, they can be a great way to get more frequent touch with even your largest customers. Tessa shared that they invite the Hubspots and Atlassians of the world to their scaled programs. 

Async QBRs

Since Loom is a pioneer in the async communication space it’s not a surprise that Tessa’s team use Loom themselves to share async updates with customers. 

Rather than synchronous QBR meetings with customers that might feel like a chore for both sides, Tessa’s team shares more frequent async updates. 

“People work harder for smaller amounts of money if it's coming in frequently versus getting a consistent paycheck every quarter. This is human psychology. So we translated that into how we provide value for our customers. Instead of doing these big quarterly QBRs, we want to provide them with these little aha moments. And so we'll do that via Loom.”

The 🔑is cross-functional alignment 

One of the keys to Tessa’s success as a Customer Success leader? Cross-functional alignment. In her view, goals like adoption should never be solely the CS team's responsibility. Adoption is a cross-functional goal and it’s important that CS voices this during whatever goal-setting or OKR planning process exists. 

Especially for PLG businesses aligning incentives between teams and creating overlapping shared goals leads to better outcomes for customers. At Loom marketing is not just focused on pipeline they also have an adoption goal. Sales have incentives to help make onboarding successful because they are compensated for expansions. Finding these areas of overlap and creating incentive alignment makes handoffs between Sales and CS smoother. 

Tessa stressed the importance of mapping the customer journey cross-functionally. If possible she recommends translating that customer journey into a tool that can provide a single pane-of-glass view of sales, marketing, and CS playbooks. This helps create cohesion in the customer experience. Loom leverages Pocus as its revenue team’s operating system (learn more). 

Learn more about product-led Customer Success

Interested in learning more about how other go-to-market experts are building their product-led functions?

There’s no better place to rub elbows with PLG leaders from OpenView, Slack, Notion, Asana, Atlassian, and more than in the Pocus community. Request to join today. 

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Tessa Thorburn
Head of Customer Success
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