Zoom's CEO shares his secret: 'Every day, I join customer meetings'

Eric S. Yuan, the founder and CEO of Zoom, says his mission is to create customer happiness. In this exclusive CXOTalk conversation, he explains how Zoom delights customers despite growing at a breakneck pace. Learn how to delight your own customers and create a great customer experience.
Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor

Eric Yuan started Zoom in 2011 with the simple goal of building a better video conferencing product. Today, the company is one of the world's most recognizable brands and among the fastest-growing companies anywhere.

How does this CEO ensure customer happiness while growing and managing in the harsh spotlight of a world stage? It's a tough challenge that is central to how Yuan operates the company.

In 2018, I asked Yuan to explain the relationship between employee experience and customer happiness:

"When you build a business, you cannot, as a CEO, do everything. You need to count on your employees."

"If employees are not happy, customers can feel that and will not be happy. For me as CEO, my number one priority is to make sure our employees are happy, and then they can deliver happiness to our customers. Internally, our number one priority."

More recently, on episode #709 of CXOTalk, Eric Yuan shares the keys to customer success at Zoom.

Watch the complete conversation embedded above and read the full transcript. Here are edited comments from my most recent conversation with Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom:

What does customer happiness mean at Zoom?

Customer happiness is still our core value. That has not changed at all.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Zoom was built to serve enterprise, business, and government customers. But since last year, we've had many new consumers, [so] we feel great responsibility. Not only do we deliver happiness to the enterprise, but also, we want to embrace those new use cases and do more for them.

First, we've got to look at everything from a customer perspective. That's number one.

Number two, because we have so many first-time new users, we need to keep everything open and transparent. Make sure we share with them and communicate with them about why we will make a change and why they have to upgrade their plan or the next release, next version. We've got to communicate with them well because a lot of new users are first-time consumers. That's the second thing.

Third, internally we've got to focus on our company culture. That's extremely important.

Why is company culture important to customer experience?

Company culture is the number one important thing.

In December 2019, daily meeting participants on a peak day were around ten million. Back in March and April, it was 30 times more. It jumped quickly to 300 million daily meeting participants.

If we did not invest in our company culture, I could tell you a lot of employees might have quit already because it's huge pressure, working very hard around the clock.

When you invest in the company culture, employees do not complain. They just move forward with solutions, with the plan.

We more than doubled the size of the company last year because of the company culture.

Our company culture is just two words: deliver happiness. As CEO, my number one priority is to make sure our employees are happy. Together, as a business, we make our customers happy. That's our company culture.

Our company value is just one word: care. Meaning, care about the community, customers, the company, teammates, as well as ourselves.

How do you connect customer happiness and business growth?

When you look at growth, think about the value. What kinds of value can you create for your customers?

Look at growth from the customer's perspective. Solicit their feedback, talk with them, understand their pain points, and then think about things you can do differently to add more value to customers. Then you can drive up the growth.

Every day, I join customer meetings. If I did not do that, the customers say, "I want to talk with the CEO to understand the reason," if you say I'm busy, I do not have the time; they are not going to trust you anymore. You've got to lead by example.

How fast has Zoom grown?

If you look at the last 12 months, I would say that's hypergrowth in terms of usage on many fronts. We also have quarterly revenue growth, and we doubled the size of the company.

We want to leverage this opportunity to think big. We can do differently for future innovation because our vision is video conferencing like Zoom delivers a better experience than face-to-face meetings. We are not there yet.

Imagine a world where you and I have a call. I can give you a hug. You feel my intimacy. You get a cup of coffee. I can enjoy this remotely, with real-time language, AI-based translation. If we can be the first vendor to get us there, I think we can maintain that hypergrowth. That's why we need to think about future innovation.

CXOTalk offers in-depth conversations with people shaping our world. Thank you to my research assistant, Sumeye Dalkilinc, for assistance with this post.

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