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Why Cloud 100 startups are investing in CX

The Forbes Cloud 100 list recognises top cloud and software startups. Find out why so many of these companies are prioritising customer experience.

By Sarah Olson, Senior Associate, Content Marketing, @seolson5

Last updated August 21, 2023

This year, we’ve seen an unexpected acceleration in cloud and software companies, driven by the sudden shift to remote work. In particular, business-to-business (B2B) software is ‘having a moment‘, and the trend seems likely to continue.

In this context, the announcement of this year’s Forbes Cloud 100 list takes on new significance. The Cloud 100 is a list of the top cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies based on factors including growth, sales, valuation and culture, as well as a reputation score determined with help from their public cloud-company peers, which this year included Zendesk.

More than 75% of the Forbes Cloud 100 use Zendesk to help give their customers a great experience, suggesting that customer experience (CX) plays a role here too. Read on to see why so many of these startups are investing in CX – and why you should be too.

  1. Cloud companies know that their software needs to be seamless and they want their customer service to be seamless too.

    Less than a third of the startups we surveyed for our Startups CX benchmark report 2020 had a CX solution in place, but many of the Cloud 100 winners do. These companies are in a unique position to recognise the value of good CX because the success of their software depends on it.
    Companies such as Culture Amp and Airtable need to have an intuitive user interface that customers love to use. It makes sense that they’d want their customer service to be just as seamless. They’re investing in solutions that make life easier for the customer and, based on their success, it seems that the investment is paying off.
  2. In an ever-changing world, it’s more important than ever to be able to meet your customers where they are.

    Elena Gomez, Chief Financial Officer at Zendesk, says that this year has been a long lesson in the need for organisational agility and flexibility to underpin everything you do.
    ‘SaaS companies are well positioned to embrace this constant change, as nimbleness is built into their core,’ she says. One of the ways they’re doing that is by meeting their customers where they are.

    SaaS companies are well positioned to embrace this constant change, as nimbleness is built into their core.
    Elena Gomez, Chief Financial Officer, Zendesk

    This is consistent with other successful startups. In our startups benchmark, we found that 25% of fast-growing startups added omni-channel support within the first two years of founding. Omni-channel makes it easy to connect with customers on the channels that they prefer – even when their preferences suddenly change, as we’ve seen with more customers relying on messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. There’s no shortage of competition between cloud software companies, and CX can be a differentiating factor.

    More companies are likely to enter the cloud software market in the years ahead. As competition intensifies, SaaS companies will need to rely on more than just their product to set themselves apart.
    Good CX is one way to win customers over. More than half of customers said that they would switch to a competitor after just one bad customer service experience, according to our Customer experience trends report 2020. This suggests that for companies facing stiff competition, CX is a good investment. It may also explain why so many Cloud 100 companies are prioritising it.
    Furthermore, over 60% of customers said that the speedy resolution of problems was their top priority when evaluating customer service, and our startups benchmark showed that companies prioritising CX investments were resolving customers’ problems twice as fast as their counterparts after two years.

Looking ahead

We will face many challenges in the months and years ahead, and the Cloud 100 companies are no exception. However, according to Gomez, if there’s anything we can learn from these successful cloud companies, it’s that putting customers first pays off.

‘As we look ahead to 2021, we should all be thinking about how we can continue to help our customers, our people and our communities,’ Gomez says. ‘Growth and scale start with prioritising the customer experience – whatever challenges lie ahead.’

Want to hear more insights from top cloud companies? Take a look at the