Your phone buzzes. You look down to read a text from your favorite online retailer. “Hey! Take 15 percent off your next order. Just ‘cause.” You didn’t exactly need a new sweater, but it’s winter and you don’t not need a new sweater. You click over to the site and see what’s new.
For years, email has been the tried and true way of reaching customers, but Klaviyo, a marketing automation platform, recently went a step further to keep up with trends in the world of marketing. By building upon the existing email functionality Klaviyo has championed for years, it launched an SMS service that allows customers to reach out to their own clients via text.
So, with the resources it takes to create a new product, why did Klaviyo go for it? Because their customers asked for it.
Klaviyo prides itself on being a customer-centric company — and that’s not just fluff, says Andrea Wan, product lead at Klaviyo. “It’s extremely satisfying when something you build is exactly what a customer needs,” Wan said. And the SMS feature was exactly what the customer needed.
Meet the Players
What she does: Wan and her team create solutions that make Klaviyo the best tool for the user. From beginning to end, she oversees the development of new features and looks to make them as successful as possible.
“I’m most excited about helping our product team become known in the Boston area as the team all product managers want to work on. The exhilarating pace at which we can develop and release new features is a PM’s dream!”
What he does: Homes and his team ensure Klaviyo’s customers have a frictionless experience by problem-solving and acting on feedback.
“What attracted me to Klaviyo was not only the problem the company is trying to solve but the passion and sophistication of the teams that are building it. It’s extremely rewarding to learn among hard-working, talented people every day and see a product that is clearly accomplishing its mission.”
Listening to the Customer
In early 2019, many of Klaviyo’s customers were saying they’d like to see an SMS feature that would allow them to communicate with their customers via text.
With higher open rates and quicker response times, text messages are a powerful marketing tool for e-commerce companies. With message options like a welcome series, reminders when users have items left in their cart, and thank-you texts with shipping information included, SMS messaging can have a serious impact on customer relations and sales. Since Klaviyo already handled all email communication, it only made sense that its customers would want to bundle SMS capabilities in with the platform.
We take requests from our customers seriously, and learn from individual use cases.”
Wan: More and more customers were mentioning that they wanted to explore SMS, but the options were limited. Either customers needed a ton of development resources to build out a custom solution or they had to rely on one of the other providers that had limited offerings. As we dug into what this could mean for Klaviyo, it quickly became apparent that not only was the appetite for SMS huge, but SMS would allow us to explore new segments and use cases beyond e-commerce.
Over the last couple of months, SMS has emerged to be Klaviyo’s first-ever new product line beyond email, which makes it equally exciting internally as externally. For our customers, they will soon be able to create targeted experiences for their customers that combine email and SMS.
Holmes: We take requests from our customers seriously, and learn from individual use cases. We hear ideas on a daily basis and communicate them respectively. We really feed off our customer’s excitement about new features. We’re put in a special position to be able to learn from brands how features are used, what problems they help solve, how they can be better. That energy is contagious and super fun to be a part of.
Collaborating Across Teams
The SMS product was a sizable undertaking that required cross-team collaboration and a lot of communication. The crew at Klaviyo are no strangers to collaboration and actively sought feedback and help from their peers, no matter if they were on the product, engineering or support team.
Holmes: Collaboration is everything at Klaviyo — it’s amazing to see how instilled in the culture it remains as we grow. In support, it’s essential for us to be on the same page with various teams in order to best serve our customers. Lines of communication include regular meetings cross-functionally, channels in Slack and everyday face-to-face interactions.
Collaboration is everything at Klaviyo — it’s amazing to see how instilled in the culture it remains as we grow.”
Wan: On a daily basis, I am communicating with marketing, sales and support to continue educating our internal teams, listening and learning about our customers, and leveraging our collective knowledge to drive my projects.
We pulled together a team focused specifically on launching Klaviyo SMS with representatives from each department. This allowed us to stay tight on our communications across the company by having the representative share our updates and bring back other teams’ concerns to the launch team. We identified a set of over 100 tasks to be split across the team and worked to ensure that each department felt ready and empowered for the launch.
Iteration and Beyond
It’s not unusual for Klaviyo to build and ship off iterations weekly based on feedback from customers and other teams. It’s a great opportunity to continue growing and testing things out, and it’s a major draw for those who aren’t satisfied until they get a product just right — and even then, there’s room to tinker.
Though the SMS product just launched, it will continue to be improved with time due to the endless feedback cycle. The customer will continue to stay in the loop as an important voice in future iterations — as well as for new products that don’t yet exist.
Holmes: The feedback cycle between the teams at Klaviyo is never-ending. Because we’re always learning, growing and increasing perspectives, the tool benefits. Being on the frontlines with customers, we naturally develop an understanding of how the product is used. This feedback is important for product and engineering teams to ship thoughtful features. We’re present in product meetings as advocates for our customers, we’re familiar with the brands that would serve great as great early access testers, and we contribute to the feedback loop for areas of improvement.
Not only is it great to connect in person with customers, but it gives me such an appreciation of everything they do as it relates to Klaviyo.”
Wan: I love that we have over 25,000 customers — it makes it so easy to reach out and have a conversation or workshop an idea with an actual end user. Not only is it great to connect in person with customers, but it gives me such an appreciation of everything they do as it relates to Klaviyo. I’m able to bring those stories back to my role and have the customer’s considerations in mind as I go through each step of our product development process. It’s extremely satisfying when something you build is exactly what a customer needs.